EVERYONE has seen the photo of Pat Lipinski by now.
When he was drafted to the Western Bulldogs in 2016, it became viral. A picture of him high up in the MCG, watching his beloved side claim a drought-breaking premiership. A little while after, he was recruited to that very club when the Dogs took him at pick No.28.
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But that moment, until Saturday evening, had eluded Lipinski as a player. He couldn't make a difference as a Bulldog in 2021, left out of the side that ultimately lost the Grand Final to Melbourne.
His absence from that Dogs side culminated in his departure to Collingwood a couple of months later. Now, a couple of seasons later, he has finally tasted the feeling he enjoyed as a fan once again. But this time, he's done it as a player.
"I can't believe it," Lipinski told AFL.com.au.
"I think I got drafted eight weeks after that photo was taken. You just want to play one game, then you want to cement yourself, so to be able to be a premiership player … it's just the best feeling ever."
Lipinski played Collingwood's final 13 consecutive games, having missed the start of the season with a shoulder injury. However, ahead of Saturday's Grand Final, he was made the tactical substitute for the first time in that run.
For some, the call to be dropped from the starting 22 might have been taken harshly. But for Lipinski, there was a positive spin. No matter the role he played in the Grand Final, he was determined to do it well.
"I'm so happy," Lipinski said.
"Once I was the sub, I just had to accept that it was my role. I was going to be the best sub I could be. I think I took my opportunity and was part of the team and played well. I'm a premiership player, it's crazy."
Lipinski was one of two alterations to Collingwood's side from its preliminary final win over Greater Western Sydney, with Jack Ginnivan and Billy Frampton coming into the 22 for himself and the injured Dan McStay.
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He found out earlier this week, having been called into coach Craig McRae's office to be told the news, but still came onto the ground quicker than many might have anticipated when defender Nathan Murphy suffered a concussion in the opening term.
Lipinski did what he had earlier promised McRae, winning 16 disposals to go with three clearances and five tackles as the Pies eventually secured their 16th premiership by winning a four-point thriller. He had done his job.
"It was fine," Lipinski said.
"I went into Fly's office and he said I was going to be the sub, so I just accepted that role. At the end of the day, I'm still part of the team playing in a Grand Final. How many people growing up want to do that? I had a positive mindset."
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Collingwood had just finished second-last when it traded pick No.43 for Lipinski back in 2021. It was also a summer where the club brought in McRae as coach, before then nabbing Nick Daicos as a father-son prospect in the draft.
That, for Lipinski, was enough to suggest good times would be right around the corner for the Magpies. Barely two years on, as they celebrated a well-deserved premiership, he would be proven right.
"When I got here, they'd just been 17th. But they'd brought in Fly and changed the whole club. We were obviously really good last year, so from that we got so much belief. Anything was possible," he said.
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"But if you had told me two years ago, when I was sitting on the deck at Optus Stadium with the Bulldogs teammates after they'd lost, that I'd be a premiership player … I don't even know what I'd say.
"It's so good. I can't believe it. I'm a premiership player. It's just so good."