Captain Bob Murphy has hailed Matthew Boyd as the self-confessed grump who shone brightest when times were toughest at the Western Bulldogs.
Boyd is the latest AFL veteran to announce his impending retirement, humbly saying he is embarrassed to be calling it quits at the same time as Luke Hodge, Nick Riewoldt and Sam Mitchell.
But Boyd’s career stacks up in comparison – former captain, three-time All-Australian, three-time club best-and-fairest winner, premiership player.
With 291 games, he holds the record among rookie-drafted players.
Starting on the rookie list meant Boyd did it tough and he developed a well-earned reputation for his intense, driven character.
“The real man is much more rounded than that,” Murphy said.
“The grumpiness is now kind of his badge of honour, but it’s something we tease him with.
“It’s exaggerated, because he has such a big heart and a genuine care for people and this place.
“You can still see the claws occasionally and he has been my attack dog.”
Boyd was a key member of last year’s premiership team, only two years after the club was on its knees – again.
“We’ve gone through a lot of tough times and you need people with the steady hand,” Murphy said.
“When things are at their absolute worst, that’s when Matty is at his absolute best.”
But there was no avoiding that grumpiness on Tuesday, much to everyone’s amusement.
With wife Kate and their three children Chloe, Asher and James looking on, Boyd noted in his retirement speech that their elder daughter had picked up on Dad’s serious side.
“She (Chloe) knows the day before a game, because she says ‘Dad, you’re even more grumpy than usual’,” Boyd said.
He still sometimes pinches himself about last year’s historic flag, but Boyd is also proud about how he has handled himself since.
Boyd has no regrets about going on for another season, even though he has managed only nine games and will miss Friday night’s blockbuster against GWS as he nurses a leg injury.
“I feel really fulfilled with my career, given the year I’m going through now,” he said.
“I’ve been able to handle myself in the right sort of way and let my character show through and handle myself with integrity.
“That makes me feel really good about my career.”
* DOB: 27/8/82 (34)
* No.23 selection in the 2002 rookie draft
* 2003 AFL debut, 291 games (most by a rookie-drafted player)
* 2016 premiership player
* Captain 2011-13
* Three-time All-Australian
* Three-time club best-and-fairest winner