AFL Rd 4 - Saints v Dockers
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 18: Zac Dawson of the Saints celebrates with fans during the round four AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Fremantle Dockers at Etihad Stadium on April 18, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

Former Saint Zac Dawson's preparation for the 2009 AFL Grand Final clash against Geelong was less than ideal.

The defender got food poisoning from Subway right before the grand final parade just 24 hours out from the big one.

It left him hospitalised on a drip later that night and in the early hours of the morning of the grand final.

Speaking on former Blue and Giant Dylan Buckley's Dyl and Friends podcast, the backman recalled the disastrous build up.

"I went for something (from Subway) I probably shouldn't have," Dawson said.

"I got through the parade, got home, then had the worst food poisoning I've ever had in my whole life the night before the grand final.

"I was on the drip in hospital from 9am-midnight the night before the grand final, from 6am-9am at the ground and at halftime on grand final day.

"No one knows about that."

The Saints entered the grand final with momentum after a dominant 20-2 home and away season to claim the minor premiership.

Dawson, who only missed two matches during the season, had taken over the mantle as St Kilda's number one lockdown defender from veteran Max Hudghton.

However, a late change was looming for the decider, with Hudghton told to pack his gear to prepare to come in for the unwell Dawson.

Having not drank or eaten anything in the lead up to the marquee match, Dawson recalled a stark pre-game conversation with then Saints coach Ross Lyon.

"(Lyon said:) 'How you feeling? I heard you've been pretty crook. Are you going to be okay?'

"I said: 'Should be alright.'

"He goes: 'Well make sure you make the right f***ing call. This is going to make or break our friendship.’”

After passing a fitness test, Dawson got up for the match and said the adrenaline of the occasion carried him through.

He played out the game unscathed, gathering 15 disposals and taking some big intercept marks early in the contest.

Unfortunately, the Saints were edged out by the Cats by 12 points in a thriller.

"Great day, besides from the ending," the 166-gamer said.