THE final act didn't go according to script, but Leeton-Whitton skipper Bryce O'Garey has retired with his place in Crows history assured after announcing his retirement after Saturday's 21-point grand final loss to Wagga Tigers.
The AFL Riverina Championship decider at Robertson Oval, which saw the Tigers prevail 16.8 (104) to 12.11 (83) thanks largely to six straight second quarter goals, brought down the curtain on a memorable Crows era.
O'Garey, who led the Crows to their first flag in 39 years in 2017 and was named best on ground in the decider, was joined by fellow Tasmanians Daniel Muir and Jade Hodge in hanging up the boots.
Muir has coached the club the past two seasons while Hodge was at the helm for the 2017 premiership, when they defeated Collingullie-Glenfield Park by six points.
O'Garey is regarded as one of the best players in the Riverina since he moved from Hobart at the end of 2010.
Still just 30, he knew the time was right to depart after admitting he had lost some fire in the belly.
"That's the last one. It would have been nice to go out with a win, but not everything can be a fairy tale. That's the way footy goes," he said.
"I want to spend more time with family. Boston (son) is about to start Auskick, and at the end of the day I can't commit to the boys.
"Getting to every training session during the week was starting to take its toll, so I've decided to hang them up and enjoy some life after footy.
"Family comes first, I've had a pretty good career. I started young down there and I've done plenty of pre seasons.
"The desire to go to training isn't there any more and when it's a job to go to training you just know."
The Crows were made to pay for a wasteful 3.7 with the breeze in the first quarter, while the Tigers kicked six goals to one in the second term to build a match-winning lead.
Former Canberra Demon Lucas Meline was outstanding in the midfield for Leeton-Whitton, as was his brother Tom down back, while O'Garey and Ryan Grey also had their moments.
The Crows' coaching role will be taken over by former Western Bulldogs and Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL player Sam Darley for the next two seasons.
After two years in the job Muir is considering a move home to Tasmania for family reasons and will leave with his head high after helping the team bounce back from a wooden spoon campaign last year.
A number of Crows juniors returned to the club this season after most other leagues were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I'm done, I'm too old and grumpy now so I'll let the kids take over from now on," he said.