Just as the result of the  2005  grand  final was devastating from the club’s perspective, midfielder Sam Butler was doubly shattered with his personal performance in the biggest game of his fledgling career.

He was gutted. Felt he had made little contribution in a match where any extra effort could have influenced the four-point margin.

The match committee had shown faith in selecting the-then 19 year-old, who had not played senior football since round 17 and was itching to prove that his mentors had made the right decision. An attitude you would expect from any young man in his position. However, the day ended very differently  to how Butler envisaged, with just two handballs in his stats columns.

He knew almost immediately what would fill the hollow feeling created by the loss and that was to have another crack at it. But considering the work that had gone into getting the club to the 2005 final, a West Coast Eagles premiership – as with any club – was easier said than done.

Powering through the arduous training schedule up to the start of the pre-season competition, it took a downward turn for Butler  when  he tore a quad muscle. That injury sidelined him for five weeks before he did it again, finally breaking into West Coast’s line-up in round 13 for his first game of the season.

In contrast to 2005, Butler held his place in the side from there on in, playing through the midfield and from half-forward and registering 20 possessions or more in seven of his 14 matches for the season. One of those included a 30-possession effort against the Western Bulldogs in the semi-final.

A week later and Butler, along with each of his teammates, got his year-long wish. West Coast was into the grand final.

“The major portion of my thinking  ahead  of this grand final was spent thinking about the lead-up to last year’s grand final,” he revealed. “I remember leading into it just thinking ‘I’m going to be a premiership player’ and obviously that’s a dream.

“And then this year it was to concentrate on the game because that’s the most important thing. You can’t count your chickens before they hatch.

“I’d been waiting for  that  weekend,  that game, for a year and everything that had been leading up to it – as the whole team had,” he continued. “The disappointment that everyone shared and especially myself, being obviously disappointed by my performance, to come into that week really focuses your mind.

“That was our goal the whole year and  we were never going to give anything less than our best. When you know that everyone out on the field is going to do that, then you can’t really be disappointed or you can’t really think you’re not going to make it.”

While Butler kept “a pretty simple mindset” heading into the  match,  there  was  a  sense of déjà vu with Sydney as West Coast’s opponent.

Having played the Swans in the clubs’ other two encounters since the 2005 grand final, he also expected a close contest. He soaked up the pre-match formalities, noting that  during the national anthem “I remember looking over at Sydney and thinking we’ve got to beat these guys.”

The margin that  separated  the  two  teams at half-time was probably a little more than expected with West Coast 25-point leaders and, by that stage, Butler had tripled his 2005 effort which surely eased any pre-match tension of a repeat performance.

His defensive efforts displayed a determination and hunger that may have been swallowed by stage fright a year earlier. On top of that, he registered seven tackles for the match, an equal team-high.

The second half brought a much stronger contest as Sydney surged to within one point but never snatched the lead; a crucial  goal from teammate Steven Armstrong – West Coast’s first of a two-goal final term – a stirring memory.

“I was right behind him when he kicked that in the last quarter,” Butler said. “That’s pretty fresh in my mind. Obviously  120 minutes of football kind of blurs into one after a while but there’s a couple of things that stand out.

“It was unbelievable, especially when they were coming that strong at the end,” he recalled of the final quarter. “I finished up on the bench and remember (skills coach) Robbie Wiley sitting there going ‘two minutes left, one minute left’ and then going ’20 seconds left’ and I was just so scared.

“Then that final siren, he’d called out ‘one second left’. I  think  there  was  one  second to go and I was out in the middle of the park in half-a-second’s flash when it went. It was amazing.”

Butler charged out onto  the  hallowed  turf, as did the rest of the interchange bench, to embrace and congratulate his teammates.

For the moments  that  followed,  memories of the grand final of 2005 took a back seat though there was some role-reversal with the dejected Sydney.

Butler, his side’s second youngest  player  on the day, is well aware of his fortune. Twelve months earlier had brought experiences more valuable than ever expected.

“People have said to me that it’s amazing, you look at some players and they’ve never won one and you’ve been fortunate enough to be in a side,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with luck, I suppose. I just came around and was there to be picked at the right time, the fact that the coaches put me on the park for the whole second half of the year was amazing.

“I don’t reckon it really changes things too much. Obviously you’ve got your name on your locker but that’s in great memories. Other than that I don’t think it stops your desire to win another one or it stops you wanting to try harder next year. We want to improve just like we wanted to improve after last year’s grand final.

“In some ways it changes your life massively… but at the same time nothing really changes much.”