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In his emotional farewell at the Doig Medal Presentation Dinner on Saturday night, Hayden Ballantyne spoke of the formative moment that would change him as a player.
Ballantyne, who played 171 games for Fremantle between 2009 and 2019, quickly earned a reputation for never standing down to his opponents, however the small forward said he still remembers a moment where he felt he let his teammates down.
“One of my first games, it was against Geelong down at the Cattery and Matthew Scarlett stuck his knee into Pav in a marking contest,” Ballantyne said.
“I didn’t go up and remonstrate and I was dirty on myself for not doing it.
“From then on, I thought that I won’t need to remonstrate, I’m going to start it all. I’m going to get stuck into them and they’ll have to remonstrate with me.”
And Ballantyne would continue to give Geelong trouble throughout his career, always seeming to find another level when up against the Cats.
“Geelong won their second premiership in three years in my first year. They were the benchmark side and I thought that if they’re the best, I want to beat them every time I go out against them,” Ballantyne said.
"I wouldn’t stand down to any of them. I thought if they’re the best, they’re going to have to try to beat us, and I made them work for it.”