Melbourne AFLW premiership winner Daisy Pearce couldn't resist a cheeky dig after her drought-breaking grand final triumph with the Demons on Sunday. Pearce became Melbourne's first AFLW premiership captain after helping the side to a four-point upset win in a tense and low-scoring decider against the Brisbane Lions.
In front of a packed crowd of 7412 at the Lions' new Michael Voss Oval, the Demons kept the hosts goalless after quarter-time to prevail 2.7 (19) to 2.3 (15). The win helped Pearce and the Demons erase some of the heartbreak from their grand final defeat to the Adelaide Crows in April.
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An inaugural marquee star back in 2017, Pearce had achieved so much in the sport without being able to break through for a premiership - until Sunday. The 34-year-old - who is understood to be weighing up whether or not to retire - was beaming with joy after the game, and keen to focus on her team and their incredible achievement.
“I’m just so proud of our group. They played their absolute hearts out,” she said. “It’s not a game that looks like one of our games but we found a way just through sheer heart and our spirit. Every single one of them had a moment today and I’m just so proud.”
Just like in Melbourne's last grand final against Adelaide in April, Pearce's partner Ben and their twins Sylvie and Roy were there to share the experience. The difference this time was that it was the Demons celebrating after the final whistle, with Pearce offering a cheeky swipe after spoiling Brisbane's house-warming at their new facility in Springfield.
“To do it here today, to have to come up here to Brisbane ... we don’t care where we’re playing, we’re playing in a grand final and we’re going up there to win it,” Pearce said. “They invited the wrong team to their house-warming!”
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Pearce said to win the flag in front of her partner and children was all the more special, adding: "It's crazy what they (the twins) remember. They kept saying, 'I hope you're not the team that's sitting on the ground disappointed'.
"That was what Sylvie said to me, and that was her lasting memory from Adelaide Oval earlier in the year. I'm so glad that in one year of their life, while they've been so young, we've shown them how to lose well, how to get back on the horse and just try and get better.
Daisy Pearce finally ends premiership drought
Pearce has carried a significant burden as the face of Melbourne and the AFLW. Arguably the biggest storyline leading into Sunday's grand final was if Pearce could finally win the flag that had eluded her, even if she insists that it was not something that weighed on her.
"I didn't feel a single bit of pressure because I hadn't thought about myself for a second. I was just wanting to get the job done for Mick," Pearce added.
Pearce has been tipped to retire and continue her burgeoning media career, with a coaching job at Geelong also waiting for her when she ends her playing days. However, the 34-year-old would not be drawn on her future plans after the game.
"I've felt uncomfortable the whole time, the narrative, it being about me, I feel like that's a glorified thing that happens outside of these four walls," she said.
The 34-year-old became emotional when talking about coach Mick Stinear's influence on Melbourne. Along with Lions counterpart Craig Starcevich, Stinear is the only coach left from the first season of AFLW almost six years ago.
"He makes you want to be the best footballer and person you can be, but he just sets such an incredible environment," Pearce said. "It's just such a joy to come to work because every single season I've turned up thinking we can win this thing."
Pearce will enjoy the spoils of victory before making a call on her future but Stinear hopes she can continue.
"Why wouldn't you want this wonderful human and fantastic footballer as part of your team for as long as you can?" Stinear said. "I'll definitely have a spot for as long as she wants to keep playing."
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