Melbourne veteran Nathan Jones says the prospect of an elusive premiership pushed him through difficult years to 300 AFL games.
The former Demons skipper played through some of the club's darkest years - including wooden spoons in 2008 and 2009 and a lengthy finals drought.
On Saturday night, Jones will become just the second Melbourne player after David Neitz to reach the 300-game mark when the Demons face Richmond on an Anzac Day eve.
"I've probably been dreaming of that (a premiership) my whole career really," Jones told reporters on Monday.
"A lot of people say 'why did you stick around through difficult times?'
"That dream was the thing that probably kept me alive (in the AFL) really - it kept driving me towards wanting to stick around."
The 33-year-old seriously considered retiring at the end of 2020 - a season in which he struggled with both form and injuries.
When he decided to play on, Jones had been prepared for the possibility of not playing at AFL level at all in 2021 but has featured in every game of the Demons' 5-0 start.
"When I wanted to play on last year I had a good chat to (Simon Goodwin) and it wasn't about reaching this milestone," Jones said.
"It was more so about being able to play in a successful team and contribute as much as I could on the field and off-field to get the group into a position that we find ourselves in now.
"I don't know how long it's been but in the time I'd been here I hadn't even won three in a row and we've won five in a row at the start of the season."
The darker years at Melbourne weigh heavily on Jones' AFL stats - with 98 wins, three draws and 198 losses.
But he will head into his milestone game with the Demons on a high.
"I never really considered leaving (Melbourne) - but yeah, those years sucked," Jones said.
"I was lucky to play finals in my first year and I was thinking 'how good's this?'
"And I think we finished second bottom the year after and had a handful of wooden spoons after that and not many wins.
"... The dream was always, 'can you imagine what it would be like if we turned it around? Imagine the Melbourne fans, imagine the team.'
"That was sort of always ticking in the back of my head.
"We got a taste for it in 2018 and and it's starting to feel like that again."