Evergreen ruckman Chris Stewart and brilliant forward Kwame McHarg are the only two players to have featured in every one of Deer Park’s five consecutive Western Region Football League division 1 premiership glories.
Stewart, the former captain, would have played just about every minute of those grand finals, save for a couple of spells on the bench in junk time blow-outs.
Such was the intensity and competitiveness of Saturday’s three-point grand final win over Sunshine Kangaroos, even Stewart thought he might not last the whole match.
Sporting a shiner under the eye post-game, a weary Stewart revealed that if the game had gone for another five minutes, he might not have been able to physically give any more for his side.
“The runner came out and told me there were five or six minutes to go and I said ‘I don’t have that in me’,” he said. “Sixty seconds later, the siren went and I’m just glad it went.
“At the moment I’m feeling a bit like my eye, a bit battered and tired and stressed.
“We had to stick to it for 120 minutes of footy to get the win.”
Stewart had a superb battle with young Sunshine ruckman Jesse McInneny.
McInneny represents the future of the big-man department in the WRFL, while Stewart will go down as one of the greatest ever.
It was an enthralling battle to watch and you could say it was honours even at the end of the day.
“He’s one of the best big men going around in the league at the moment,” Stewart said.
“He’s a quality fella too, a really good bloke and, credit to him, he played really well.”
Stewart has been front and centre for all of Deer Park’s five straight premierships – the nail-biting one-point win over Spotswood in 2013; the 77-point slaughter of Spotswood to claim back-to-back flags in 2014; the 136-point annihilation of Werribee Districts for the three-peat in 2015; and the 114-point domination of Hoppers Crossing for the record-breaking fourth last year.
Had Stewart not been wooed to Deer Park and sold a vision of league domination,
the history books might have told a different tale.
Shannon Byrnes, a two-time premiership player with Geelong in the AFL, has played with some superstars in his time, but he marvels at what Stewart has achieved at Deer Park and still rates him as one of the most important players in the side.
“When you look up and down the line, if he’s not going to mark it, he’s going to bring it to ground,” Byrnes said.
“He’s an amazing asset to have as a bail out kick, to know if you’ve got no options, you can kick it to the big guy and he’ll do something with it.”