Former Fremantle defender Antoni Grover has detailed the heart-wrenching decision he made in 2007 to rush from his late grandmother's side to become a western derby day hero.
Grover, who retired at the end of last season after 202 games in 14 AFL seasons for the Dockers, said he was minutes away from pulling out of that year's second derby at a late stage as he and his tight-knit family mourned the loss of Eileen Grover at a Claremont hospital.
Despite having only just tied his boots before the team ran out under then caretaker coach Mark Harvey, the defender stormed into attack to receive a handball from ruckman Robbie Warnock and kicked the first goal of the match, sending the Dockers faithful into raptures.
He then ran back to his mark, kissing a black armband in a touching tribute to his grandmother, who had died that morning.
He had been living with her when he was drafted by Fremantle in 1999 as a rookie at a time when he had seriously considered quitting footy.
"It's a personal one because my grandma passed away the morning of the derby ... emotional," Grover said. "I was at the hospital and my missus had to go home and get my stuff because I wasn't too sure I was going to play.
"I pretty much rocked up and didn't even have socks on. It wasn't until the priest had come in and spoken to the family that I made the decision to play. It was just this moment of clarity when I knew I should be playing.
"I kicked the first goal of the game and remember kissing my black armband - it was probably one of the most special moments of my career, if not the most special.
"It was intense, you know, and amazing."
Fremantle went on to win by 27 points in one of 11 victories Grover enjoyed over West Coast in 19 games. It was the first of seven consecutive derby wins for the Dockers in a period where Grover said the club felt they had the measure of their cross-town rivals.
"Seven in a row, there's three and a half years of football we'd beaten them in, so we definitely felt like we were on top of them," he said.
A lighter derby memory was when he received his first free hotel "drink card" after Fremantle's first derby win in 1999, even though he did not play. He recalled the team's celebrations at The Left Bank in Fremantle and how he spent all the credit on the card.
"I was earning $12,500 for the year . . . there was nothing left," he laughed.
Saturday's western derby will be the first since 1999 in which Grover has not been a Dockers player.
"It will be massively different," he said. "I'd love to be running out there. We all know how the intensity rises, and the fact that both teams will have a week's break after it will step it up even more.
"You know what you're running out for when you're running out for a derby."
Grover will play for Subiaco in the WAFL this season, once he recovers from knee surgery.
He has also replaced former Freo teammate Des Headland as the Lions' ambassador for community engagement.
The program aims to keep children aged 10 to 16 in the school system in areas such as Balga, where Grover grew up as a "one-eyed Eagles fan".
The 33-year-old confirmed he had once cleaned out his Dockers locker and was bound for a trade to North Melbourne, having lost the faith of former coach Chris Connolly.
But the deal fell through and he stayed at Fremantle to become the first indigenous player to reach 200 games for the club.
Grover is keen to watch new indigenous Fremantle recruit Josh Simpson, who will wear his old No.14 guernsey.
"Hopefully, he has some more successful times at the football club than I did," he said, referring to his record of one win in four finals games.
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