AFL: Saddest photo of grand final winning team

The Bulldogs celebrate winning Saturday's grand final against the Sydney Swans. Photo / AAP
The Bulldogs celebrate winning Saturday's grand final against the Sydney Swans. Photo / AAP

At first glance it's one of the happiest moments of AFL grand final day.

After their fairytale 22-point win against the Sydney Swans, the Western Bulldogs pile all over each other with the premiership cup in a traditional pose performed by all successful teams.

The looks of unadulterated joy on the faces of players like Easton Wood, Luke Dahlhaus, Tom Boyd and Marcus Bontempelli can't help but bring a smile to your face.

But then you look closer and your heart breaks.

The Bulldogs did everything in their power to include injured skipper Bob Murphy in their momentous win.

Coach Luke Beveridge's touching gesture on the premiership dais - where he called the 295-game veteran up and draped his medal over his neck - was one of the most moving moments ever seen in Australian sport.

Murphy was part of all the celebrations too, from the first hoisting of the cup, to the team song in the rooms, to the presentation of the trophy to the long-suffering Dogs fans at the Whitten Oval the following day.

But there was one moment he wasn't a part of. Spotted him yet?

Look to the right of finger-raising Fletcher Roberts in the top right hand corner of the photograph above. Heavy.

It was clearly unintentional but AAP photographer Julian Smith just happened to click the button on his camera as Murphy, head bowed, walked away as the 22 players who took part in the game gathered for the team shot.

But there were plenty of happy moments for Murphy and the Dogs, too. Like this one.

Robert Murphy of the Bulldogs and Jordan Roughead of the Bulldogs carry the premiership cup off the field during the 2016 AFL grand final. Photo / Getty Images
Robert Murphy of the Bulldogs and Jordan Roughead of the Bulldogs carry the premiership cup off the field during the 2016 AFL grand final. Photo / Getty Images

Beveridge revealed a children's book was one of the driving forces behind the Dogs' inspired run to the flag.

The book, Salty Dog, was given to Beveridge by football chief Graham Lowe at the start of a season that culminated in the Bulldogs' first premiership since 1954.

"I was reading through this book and ... it's about confronting your fears," Beveridge told Fox Footy's On The Couch.

"As I read each page it was quite simple, it's like a children's book, but it had really powerful messages in there.

"So we had 100 copies printed and had our logo printed on the back ... and we gave each player a book. We talked about the content and to our players' credit they confronted their fears.

"All year, every time there was a trial or a tribulation, they met it head on."

So powerful was the message, along with other themes that Beveridge declined to divulge, that by the time the Dogs reached the grand final they had already conquered their fears.

"In the end, part of going into the grand final was bringing it back to what they'd already done," Beveridge said of a season in which his club conAFL: Saddest grand final photo for winning teamfronted a horror run with injuries.

"And on the last page it says 'Run towards the fire' and they were basically in the fire.

"They'd met all of their challenges head on, the grand final was as hot as it was going to get and they were ready for it." Most associated with the Dogs have been reluctant to declare the grand final win over Sydney the start of a dynasty.

But Beveridge is already focused on making sure Bulldogs fans don't have to wait another 62 years to see their team lift the cup.

"We're definitely not in a space to think that we're the best (team) even though we've just won the grand final," he said of his team that finished the home-and- away season seventh with 15 wins.

"There's still plenty of work to do so it will take a concerted effort by everyone to make sure that we keep our feet on the ground.

"When our players go away on holiday they need to make sure they keep themselves in good order - that's their big test."

- with AAP

- news.com.au

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