"WE CAN'T change the past and results of the past. It is: what can we create and what can we influence?"

For Patrick Dangerfield, there has always been time. 

When drafted by Adelaide in 2007, he was given time to complete Year 12 the following year. 

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When he began to establish himself as an elite talent from 2011 and definitely by 2012, he always had more time than those around him with ball in hand. 

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When his first club stint ended without both the Brownlow and premiership he was always predicted to achieve, at 25, there was plenty of time for that to be rectified. Personally, that time came the very next year, 2016, when he won the Brownlow as a Cat. 

Back then, there was still a lot of time to achieve the only thing he really wanted. But he'd just been part of a team which had lost a preliminary final, the second time that had happened (2012 at Adelaide the first).

Patrick Dangerfield in action for Adelaide against Hawthorn in the 2012 preliminary final. Picture: AFL Photos

It happened again the following season, the Cats losing another preliminary final. Time was still on his side. When Geelong again lost a prelim in 2019, for the first time, time was ticking away for Dangerfield. 

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At 30, at his fifth crack at preliminary final, a Dangerfield team won through to a Grand Final. Tonight at the Gabba, the eight-time All-Australian footballer-showman finally gets the chance, in game No.269 and after 13 seasons, to enter the only stage he's ever truly sought.

It was a relief to reach this day, but that is all it was. 

"It's one thing to get there but the challenge is to get there and win it," Dangerfield said on the Gold Coast this week. 

"It's great, absolutely. But it's not much without winning it. I've got some great mates who have played in Grannies and haven't been part of a successful side, and that is a really tough day to deal with, and ones they still often still refer to and think about."

Patrick Dangerfield leaves the MCG after Geelong's preliminary final loss to Richmond in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

Dangerfield and a Grand Final were meant to happen. One of the game's biggest ever names getting to play on the game's biggest day.

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There has always been a showman in Dangerfield. But as the 2020 season wore on, and moved from the home-and-away season into the finals, the showman disappeared. He knows there may be not be another time like this. 

"We can't change the past and results of the past. It is: what can we create and what can we influence?" he said this week. 

When asked what it meant to be able to display his skill set on this day, Dangerfield reverted to normal footballer talk, that being exclusive team-talk. 

"(A premiership) bonds and unites groups, and I have had plenty of teammates who bond every year at reunions and the stories that come out of those years, and that is what myself hasn't been part of, and that's what we want to join in on, that's the thing that puts a smile on my face," he said. 

That's Dangerfield yearning for the right to feel a certain way in a future time, a right that by 10pm AEDT tonight, he is hoping to have finally earnt. 

Twitter: @barrettdamian