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Premiership Pride: Darryl White

Premiership Pride: Darryl White Darryl White reflects on the 2003 grand final and all the celebrations.

For most premiership players, the moment the final siren sounds in the Grand Final is what they remember most fondly.

But for Darryl White, a 268-game legend of the Brisbane Lions, there was another moment in the 2003 Grand Final against Collingwood that remains the clearest in his memory.

“We were up by 45 or 46 points and it was midway through the last quarter and I looked up at the scoreboard,” White told lions.com.au as part of their Premiership Pride series.

“I took a gaze around the ground and next minute the ball is coming down to me…it sort of shocked me.

“That was the only time I actually enjoyed a moment in a Grand Final. It was like I was stargazing for 30 seconds.

“We had it then. It was an unbelievable feeling. I didn’t feel that much after the game…it was more like, ‘yes another win’.”

For White, the build-up to the Lions’ third consecutive Grand Final was laden with pressure.

“We knew what to do. Everything was put in place,” White said.

“The crowd expectation was a bit more – everyone was expecting us to win. Our preparation was right and it was a beautiful sunny day. 

“Leigh was calm in his pre-match speech. He saw us 90 minutes before the game and then we didn’t see him again.

“We had a game plan and knew our structures. It was about going out and performing.”

White’s versatility, which saw him play a multitude of positions for the Lions in his career, again came to the fore during the match.

“I had the luxury of taking whoever was there in the back pocket,” he said. 

“But then Beau McDonald went down again and I ended up being in the ruck. I was even up forward for a couple of minutes.”

Unlike the tense 2002 Grand Final, the Lions dominated for the majority of the match against the Magpies, leading by 14 points at quarter time and 42 points at half time.

Collingwood mounted a brief fightback in the third, but a six-goal last quarter secured a huge 20.14 (134) to 12.12 (84) victory for the Lions.

White finished the match with 14 disposals, five marks and three tackles. 

After the siren, he felt relief and did his best to soak in the feeling. 

“I was always the last one into the rooms. I walked right around the oval with my kid,” he said.

“You never know. It’s relief first than euphoria. The next two weeks were fantastic. 

“The build-up, the expectation…it was a part of history that we all over the next 24 hours soaked up.

“No team had achieved three in a row for a long time.”

A monster crowd awaited the Lions when they returned back to Brisbane, with fans lining up for hours just to grab a glimpse of their heroes.

“I remember the crowd here at the Gabba lining up to get autographs when we got back. I felt so sorry for them,” he said.

“It was dark and the line was still back to the other end of the goal line. The biggest human snake you’ve ever seen. We sat there until the sun went down and made sure every person got an autograph.”

15 years on from the 2003 Grand Final, White admitted he doesn’t think back to that magical day at the ‘G very often.

“I don’t reflect or think about it too much. Three-time premiership player sticks with you,” he said.  

“We had an unbelievable side, but we had a lot of blokes who were genuine people. I think that’s why we were so good.”

White joined the Brisbane Bears in 1992 and played 90 games before the merger with Fitzroy occurred. He went on to play another 178 games for Club before retiring at the end of the 2005 season.

Along with his three premiership trophies, White was also named as fullback and captain in the Indigenous Team of the Century in 2005. He was inducted into the Lions’ Hall of Fame in 2014.

Previous episodes of the Premiership Pride:

Episode One: Jonathan Brown

Episode Two: Shaun Hart

Episode Three: Marcus Ashcroft

Episode Four: Luke Power

Episode Five: Chris Scott 

Episode Six: 2001 Grand Final 

Episode Seven: Chris Johnson

Episode Eight: Jamie Charman

Episode Nine: Simon Black

Episode 10: Nigel Lappin

Episode 11: Tim Notting

Episode 12: Alastair Lynch

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs