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To Freo legends Aaron Sandilands and Hayden Ballantyne, Saturday night’s clash with Essendon at Optus Stadium was more than just a celebration of their careers, it was a celebration of their friendship.
The pair played their final home game at Optus Stadium in front of the Fremantle fans in what is also very likely to be their final game together.
Sandilands is set to retire after 18 years at Fremantle, and the duo have been teammates since Ballantyne joined the club 11 seasons ago.
“You meet some special people along the way and Hayden is one of those,” Sandilands said post game.
“(Sharing the night with Hayden) was really special. He’s a really close mate of mine.
“To be able to run around together for the last time, they’re moments I cherish.”
In a spur of the moment decision, both players moved away from the tradition of being chaired off on the shoulders of two teammates.
Instead, the 211cm Sandilands carried the 175cm Ballantyne off on his own back.
Ballantyne said that he wasn’t going to argue with Sandilands’ suggestion.
“It wasn’t planned. Aaron said to get on my shoulders and when Aaron tells me to do something, I do it,” Ballantyne said.
“It was actually pretty high up, I’ve never been that high up before on the footy oval.
“(The lap of honour) was pretty solid, I was welling up a little bit.
“It was really special to say goodbye to all the fans, especially getting to do it with Aaron.”