FOR TONY Liberatore, the Western Bulldogs' breakthrough premiership was all the better for the wait.
Liberatore was in the stands on Saturday watching his son Tom achieve what he wasn't able to do in his own storied 17-year career.
In the Bulldogs' rooms after the match, the 50-year-old was overcome by what it meant to his club and its supporters.
"It's enormous - this is such a surreal moment," he said.
"Footscray people are incredible people; so humble. I'm just so happy - ecstatic.
"I can't believe it.
"I'm so happy for him and the boys, and Luke Beveridge. I'm not a big drinker but I'm going to have a crack tonight."
One of Liberatore's signature moments from his playing days was his joyful leap in the 1997 preliminary final, believing his fourth-quarter snap had put the Bulldogs 28 points ahead.
Unfortunately for the Dogs, his shot was judged a behind, and Adelaide went on to win by two points.
His celebration at Spotless Stadium last Saturday became the iconic footage of the Bulldogs' breakthrough to a Grand Final that he never played in.
Liberatore said being able to watch his son and celebrate with fans in the stands improved the experience.
"It's something I always wanted to achieve but it's better now," he said.
Tom and Tony Liberatore celebrate the premiership. Picture: AFL Photos
After watching the club fall short of Grand Finals on so many occasions, Tom Liberatore said he was still searching to understand what had just happened.
"I don't know what I thought I'd feel. I don't know what it feels like now," the 24-year-old said.
"It means so much to me because of growing up at the club and how hard it was watching those prelims. It's unbelievable.
"There's been moments but I'm sure it will sink in later."
Liberatore laid eight tackles in the 22-point win, contributing to a monster tackle count of 101-91, won by the Swans.
Liberatore senior said the high-pressure match made the win all the sweeter.
"That's our footy. That's us. That's the Bulldogs," he said.
"I love watching tackling. It's awesome."