RETIRING Bulldogs champion Chris Grant said he was "very comfortable" with his decision to hang up his boots, having recently witnessed the club's recent post-season review.
Grant, who told his teammates shortly before Tuesday night's best and fairest count of his intentions, said a three-year plan devised for the side convinced him he should step aside for the good of the club.
Physically capable of another pre-season but unconvinced of his durability for another 12 months of football, Grant made the call to pull the pin and allow his much-loved club to move ahead without him.
"It's hard to get the words out, but unfortunately I'm retiring," he told the crowd at Crown Palladium.
"I just wanted an opportunity to thank the players as a group, and this being the last official function of the year gave me a great opportunity to thank the club in general, and the supporters.
"I wanted to say it's the end of the road for me, but I think we talk about a lot of things and we say greatness a lot. We talk about the club as being a great club, and I think realistically, throughout the history of the whole club, you have to split that into two.
"From my point of view, I think we're a great club for what we stand for, and when I first arrived 18 years ago, the club was dead.
"The Fitzroy merger was on, and we didn't have a club. I think to still be here, and under the leadership of David and Campbell, to be in the position we're currently in, is an outstanding effort."
Grant said he would "never leave the club" he played for his entire career, and that he hadn't expected to fulfil such a lengthy and record-breaking stint for the one side.
Still feeling the hurt of having never played in a Grand Final, he also urged his former teammates to "learn from what Geelong did" next season in order to become a serious contender.
"We have to become a great club on the field. Eighteen years after me debuting and not having had the opportunity of playing in a Grand Final or premiership … there's no doubt for the rest of my life I'll look at that and envy Charlie (Sutton) and Herbie Henderson and EJ, because they had that opportunity," he said.
"There's no doubt while Brett (Montgomery's) retirement is a sad occasion, he can look back and say he's a premiership player and that he's played in that last day in September.
"For me not to have that opportunity, it just means that another 18 years have gone past where we've had great players, and we've had some absolute champions – Westy and Johnno, who are going to revered for the rest of their lives – but we have to change it and become a great club on the field.
"I know that it's time, after the year that we've had, to draw a line in the sand and change that around."
Club president David Smorgon simply labelled him as "exceptional, gifted and courageous". He also reflected on the career of the humble champion he personally fought to keep at the club in 1996, when rival teams attempted to poach the then out-of-contract emerging talent.
"Chris played his first game for us in 1990, which is a long, long time ago, and he still holds the record for the most goals kicked by a 17-year-old," he said.
"We remember you, Chris, as a skinny kid with broad shoulders and not much on those bones. All of us I'm sure in this room, and you could go around from table to table, would have a favourite Chris Grant memory.
"Chris has been one of those special people that a club like ours is lucky to have. We honoured Chris at a testimonial dinner two or three years ago, we honoured him last year when he broke Doug Hawkins' games record for the Bulldogs, 330 games and beating the Tigers at the MCG.
"There have been a number of occasions where we have honoured Chris. But for Chris to officially announce his retirement today, really is the final act for Chris as a player."
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Listen to Chris's speech here