IN THE hours before breaking Melbourne's 57-year premiership drought on Saturday night, coach Simon Goodwin said he shed tears thinking about how far his team had come.
Just two years ago the Demons finished 17th, and following their historic triumph over the Western Bulldogs, Goodwin admitted he questioned his coaching ability following that 2019 season.
He said the pressure of the game had worn him down mentally.
But with some mentors by his side, and a fresh attitude to "be me", the climb to premiership glory began and now Melbourne sits atop the mountain.
"It's hard to put it into words," Goodwin said following the 74-point triumph.
"There's unbelievable emotion attached to 57 years.
"I was laying on my bed crying of how proud I was of the group.
"I spoke to them in the team meeting last night (Friday) and got a little emotional there because of how far they've come.
"Two years ago we were 17th. It's a long way back to the top and to play the way we've played, it's a big rise."
Not only has it been a big rise for the Demons, but a big rise for Goodwin personally, who admitted the job felt like it had become too much for him.
Although scrutiny around his position hit its peak late in 2020 and during the most recent pre-season, Melbourne's coach said his biggest doubts came two years ago.
"I could feel the game was getting hold of me from pressure and stress," he said.
"I was investing a lot and it was wearing me down emotionally.
"I got some mentors away from the game that were different.
"They worked with me around my energy, what to give energy to, what to let go, and just to be me and that's the most important part.
"I got back to smiling, I got back to loving the game, having fun, enjoying what I do."
There were moments against the Bulldogs when Melbourne was staring down the barrel, trailing by 19 points and struggling to contain superstar Marcus Bontempelli.
However, Goodwin said his team had been in that situation throughout the season and had the belief it would rebound.
He praised skipper Max Gawn, who encouraged Goodwin to keep rolling with NAB AFL Rising Star winner Luke Jackson in the ruck during the game's pivotal stretch in the third quarter when the Dees dominated in the middle.
Goodwin said it was the perfect illustration of his team's selfless nature.
"This is the start for our footy club. This is where we want to be."