It’s safe to say, no Deer Park player appreciated Saturday’s premiership more than its captain Jack Purton-Smith.
Purton-Smith could not have had more contrasting grand final experiences a year apart.
Last season, Purton-Smith made the heartbreaking decision to stand out of the Lions 114-point grand final win over Hoppers Crossing after tearing a hamstring in the pre-game warm up.
It was a tough call for Purton-Smith, but an unselfish move that he made in the best interests of the team.
“We do a three-quarter time kick-out on the ground during the reserves game to warm up and I tore my hamstring with my first kick,” he said. “It was a very hard decision [to withdraw from the team], but I didn’t want to let the boys down.
“It probably didn’t matter if I played or not because we won by 114 points, but anything can happen in grand finals, so I think I did the right thing even though it was really disappointing.”
On this occasion, Purton-Smith’s grand final day could not have gone any better. The hard-nut onballer got to toss the coin as captain, played a starring role in the midfield and got to hold the premiership cup aloft on the balcony with senior coach Marc Bullen.
“Today makes up for last year, that’s for sure,” Purton-Smith said.
“I’ve never cried from winning a game of football but there were tears of joy today.
“I’ve never been a part of something like that, it was incredible.
“I was so stoked with the players, it’s an amazing feeling.” Purton-Smith paid tribute to Sunshine for making the game one to savour. “Credit to Sunshine, they were unreal all day,” he said.