AFL Grand Final: Fans welcome defeated Eagles home

West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson greets fans. Picture: Joel Kelly.
West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson greets fans. Picture: Joel Kelly.

WEST Coast Eagles lost the 2015 AFL Grand Final, badly, which could have had a melancholy affect on the defeated team’s welcome home parade this afternoon.

But the few hundred Eagles supporters who showed up at Subiaco Oval today put aside yesterday’s disappointment and reflected on how far they had come.

While there were understandably a few grim faces amongst the Eagles players, the glass clearly remains half-full for the fans at the welcome home parade.

Many fans in the crowd said they had not expected West Coast to get this far in 2015 — neither did the critics.

It was supposed to be a year to rebuild and foster young talent, but the Eagles surprised everyone.

A win yesterday would have capped off a fairy tale season for West Coast Eagles following two previous seasons outside the top eight.

At the start of the season, there was barely a commentator who tipped Eagles to make the top eight, never mind the finals or the grand final.

Nobody expected the Eagles to soar this high in 2015, which the diehard Eagles fans realised.

In reflection, the 2015 home and away season can be considered one of their greatest ever in that it came from nowhere.

Make no mistake, West Coast Eagle’s 2015 grand final loss to Hawthorn was crushing for players and fans but the heart shown by this team has been a key element to its success.

The corollary of the Eagles’ renewed belief has been success and an infectious faith amongst fans.

Around one hundred fans stood outside the Subiaco Oval gates today, an hour before they were due to open, and all of them genuinely believe next year belongs to the Eagles.

It has been a tough decade for West Coast fans, marred by a wooden spoon, straight sets finals exits and scandal, but the current team has buried the past and shown there is plenty of hope for the future.

Next year will see the return of key defenders Mitch Brown and Eric MacKenzie, as well as expected improvements from young guns like Liam Duggan.

The Hawthorn team Eagles lost to are now an AFL dynasty, but the Eagles will learn from playing finals against such a team.

Captain Shannon Hurn put the loss to Hawthorn down to his team not making the most of its opportunities and thanked supporters for their belief.

As one of the young fan’s sign read at today’s parade: “You all tried your best, very proud”.