Two hours before opening bounce, Bryce Gibbs cut a lonely figure at Carrara.
The 31-year-old doesn’t typically venture onto the field this early, but with his shoulder strapped early by club trainers, he wanted to enjoy what would be an emotional day.
With a Sherrin in hand, Gibbs sat almost alone inside the 22,500-capacity venue, with a solitary groundskeeper providing the only form of company.
“I just wanted to walk around. There was no-one out there, which was really nice, really peaceful,” Gibbs told AFC Media.
“I just took it all in and soaked it up for one last time.”
Former teammates began to trickle out of the home team’s change rooms, with veteran midfielder Ed Curnow the first to join Gibbs in the middle of the ground.
Minutes later, Gibbs was flanked by two of his best mates in Marc Murphy and Kade Simpson - both groomsmen at his wedding.
They were already at Carlton when Gibbs arrived via pick No.1 in the 2006 AFL Draft with the trio having spent over a decade as teammates in the navy blue.
At the end of the match, after Gibbs had amassed 27 touches, seven rebound 50s and 549 metres gained, Murphy and Simpson appeared to chair their friend and former teammate off.
“I couldn’t have wished to finish on a better note,” Gibbs said.
“To finish with a win against some of my best mates … the two who chaired me off were in my wedding party, so obviously lifetime friends.
“It was a really nice way to end a career that I’ve been so lucky and so grateful to have.”
Around 30 minutes later, Gibbs again ventured around a near empty Metricon Stadium and reflected on a gamut of emotion experienced over the past week.
Thursday harboured exhaustion, after he told his teammates of his decision to hang up the boots for good and fronted a media storm for the remainder of the day.
Saturday brought a sense of sadness, cleaning out his locker and taking part in his final captain’s run.
But Sunday… Sunday had just one emotion for Gibbs: happiness.
“I’m just so happy,” Gibbs said.
“It’s been a big week, a big build-up and a lot of emotions.
That half-hour after the game was filled with special moments, kicked off by a hearty rendition of the team song as Adelaide’s players, coaches and staff gathered to celebrate Gibbs’ wonderful career.
Although no longer playing, Gibbs made it clear he would continue to support the Adelaide Crows in any way he could.
“I’ll keep trying to lend a hand where I can, keeping in touch and popping my head into the Club,” Gibbs said.
“I’ve tried to help the young players where I can... but their work ethic, enthusiasm and willingness to learn and get better, I wish I had some of those traits when I first started my career.
“It’s been unbelievable to watch their growth since they walked in the door and they’re starting to get the reward for it.”