The "Freo drone" went up inside Perth Domestic Airport this afternoon as the Dockers were welcomed home by 100 faithful fans.
The club song boomed over the loudspeakers and there was a carnival atmosphere inside the terminal, despite yesterday's heartbreaking defeat.
Purple and white balloons, blow-up anchors and signs declaring, 'In Ross We Trust' greeted the players when they arrived about 2.20pm.
Matthew Pavlich was one of the first down the escalator, his sombre mood mirrored by the entire playing group.
The skipper was unable to muster a smile but he still acknowledged and thanked the fans.
Star forward Hayden Ballantyne looked especially shattered, but long-time members Rosemary Kelly, 70 and Doreen Billingsley, 75, were there to cheer him home.
"For 14 years we've sat in the same seats and thought, 'Oh well, they lost again, maybe next week.' But this year, it's just been fabulous," Ms Kelly said.
"We're here to try to cheer them up and let them know we love them whether they win or lose."
Young gun Nat Fyfe was one of the next down the escalator and although his face showed his disappointment, he managed to dish out a couple of high fives to younger fans.
Serpentine's James Bakoto, 12, had flown back earlier yesterday from watching the grand final, but he stayed at the airport to see his heroes, including his favourite player Fyfe.
"When we started coming back in the third quarter I was nervous, but I knew how good Hawthorn were," he said.
"It was just good to be there. We were good at the start of the year and we just kept getting better."
Several of the players bore bruises and others walked with limps, but the rousing reception at the airport visibly lifted some of the players' spirits.
Darren Utting of Southern River was at the MCG on Saturday and said he had never felt prouder to be a Fremantle member.
"Even in the last quarter, we were five goals down but the players didn't stop," he said.
"The Freo people in the crowd were making a lot more noise than Hawthorn, too, even when Hawthorn were winning."
Once all the players had walked through the terminal and boarded the team bus, chief executive Steve Rosich thanked the fans for their spirit and energy.It wasn't the homecoming the club was hoping for, but as East Fremantle resident Stefanie Dobro said, they now had 22 players with grand final experience.