IT WAS always going to be an emotional moment.
With 52 years between premierships for the Western Bulldogs, it meant 52 years between the unfurling of a flag.
But what better moment to raise that 2016 flag than against the team the Dogs conquered on that fateful day.
Before the Bulldogs ran out against Sydney at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, the flag was hoisted inside the forward 50 at the Lockett End of the ground.
Carrying the flag out was a combination of past players and key figures, including Tony Liberatore, Susan Alberti - who was in tears while walking out - John Schultz, Brad Johnson, Gary Dempsey, Scott West and Ted Whitten Jnr.
Ahead of that collective were Bulldogs legends Chris Grant and Rohan Smith, who carried the Premiership Cup.
As the flag was hoisted, the stands erupted in applause.
It was a moment for all those who rode the tough times over the years - a reward for the Bulldogs faithful.
"This is a special moment in front of all of our faithful fans that have followed us through thick and thin," club president Peter Gordon said on 3AW.
"It's a great reward for following us throughout all the years without much reward."
Before the moment, Bulldogs legend West said he was "proud and honoured" that the club had asked the group to carry the flag.
"It's obviously a dream come true, we missed out on that opportunity but to see them win the flag last year was just such a proud moment for everyone who's ever been involved in the Bulldogs," West told Fox Footy.
"Tonight, it'll be such a special night to see the flag being raised and I'm sure all the supporters will just love it.
"You speak to so many past players that, they just wear their heart on their sleeve when it comes to the Bulldogs because we just wanted to win one.
"We were unfortunately not able to do that, but to see this group come through, to see what Luke Beveridge has been able to do for the football club.
"He's actually embraced the whole Western Bulldogs community and dragged everyone back to the footy club. And he's done such a good job, not just on the field but off the field as well."
AFL legend Alastair Lynch said while the players wouldn't see the flag unfurled, it would be an emotional moment of reflection when they spotted it on the field.
"The moment you see the flag you go 'yeah that was a pretty special time,'" he said on Fox Footy.
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