Thirroul coach Jarrod Costello had barely got his hands on the premiership trophy when his phone rang on Saturday. That he took the call in that moment said a lot about who was on the other end of the phone.
Long-time skipper Damian Sironen wasn't there at WIN Stadium, but he knew as well as anyone what his former coach would be feeling in that moment.
Since the heartbreak of the 2018 grand final defeat, Costello and the Butchers had been bent on redemption, and denied by circumstances within and without of their control.
Few stung more than being bundled out of last year's finals in straight sets after claiming the minor premiership, a fate the club also suffered after finishing top two in 2019.
Those twin disappointments came either side of trying two years for the game at large, with the Butchers running around for free in a statewide Presidents' Cup in 2020.
A stacked Butchers outfit was four points clear at the top of the ladder and looking close to untouchable when COVID called a halt to the 2021 season.
It's why you'd have never seen a more sombre shed than Thirroul's following last year's prelim final and a loss that looked to have slammed the club's premiership window shut.
Sironen departed along with the likes of Ryan Fletcher and Luke Dodge, the club having seen three-time Paul McGregor Medalist Joel Johnson previously depart.
There were some classy top-ups to the roster but, as it struggled through the regular season, the Butchers looked like a side on a rebuild after losing a class of stalwarts.
Skipper Hayden Crosland was the only survivor of the club's 2018 grand final defeat there on Saturday, something that wasn't lost on the former skinny winger, now back-rower come the final siren.
"It really hits home and really makes you feel proud," Crosland said.
"Everyone should be really proud about having all these legends of the club, blokes that have won, blokes that have lost, come and congratulate you. That's what it's all about at the Butchers.
"We spoke about it all during the week, what it feels like to lose, and we didn't want to have that feeling at all. We just feel like a different team than we were a month ago.
"A month ago, we were a bit down on confidence but, a few good wins on the trot, getting some players back, and the confidence just skyrocketed.
"That's what this whole performance was built on and it was just a performance built on effort. There were probably more try-savers than tries and that's what it was all about."
The five-year hard-slog, more than just the elation of victory, made for an emotional Costello in the aftermath of his finest coaching display.
"As soon as the game was finished I had a chat with Sirro and it was just a good reward for everyone that battled through all those years," Costello said.
"I was getting texts from guys like Dodgy (Luke Dodge) and Fletch through the whole week saying exactly that. Through the COVID years everyone fronted up, we played in the Presidents Cup. We haven't had everything go our way, but guys hung in there.
"Guys like Kaleb (Hocking) and Ammon Cairney came through the 2020 side that won the first division comp through that [COVID] year. They're still only 21 years old and what they did against that hardened [Collegians] middle was outstanding.
"We have to work really hard, our cub, to be able to put competitive sides on the field from a sponsorship point of view. It takes a lot of time from a lot of people.
"It's really nice to be able to take that trophy back to Gibbo and say 'there it is, we did it for you'."
While the coach is quick deflect praise from himself, having been the mainstay of the perennially contending side for more than half a decade, there's no mistaking who the club was really doing it for.
Crosland, somewhat prophetically, told this reporter as much three days before kickoff.
"The last nine years he's been my coach in grade and we haven't got one together yet," he said.
"He's the hardest worker I've ever seen. He watches so much video and puts so much thought and effort into everything he does. The whole team knows it as well.
"We know how hard he works so we'll definitely be out there trying to get this for 'Jacko' because we know how hard he's worked for the last 10 years."
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