Daisy Pearce has led the Demons to a fairytale AFLW premiership after beating a dogged Lions side by four points at Brisbane’s brand new Springfield Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
An emotional Pearce, the most legendary player in the female game, vigorously brushed aside questions about retirement right after the game – instead preferring to lavish praise on her teammates after the club’s first AFL flag.
Tayla Harris and Blaithin Mackin each scored goals as the wayward Dees posted 2.7 – 19 in somewhat wild Brisbane weather, while Cathy Svarc and Dakota Davidson started six-pointers as the Lions finished 2.3 – 15.
Harris, who suffered a shoulder injury in the match, is finally the premiership winner after appearing in three losing grand finals for three different clubs.
Melbourne Demons players celebrate their first ever AFLW premiership after beating the Lions by four points at the brand new Springfield Stadium on Sunday afternoon
But it was all about Pearce, the 34-year-old mother of twins, who just keeps going; and if her performance is through this game and all of 2022, she’s not done leading.
“I’m just so proud of our group, they just played their heart out… we found a way, just through pure heart and our spirit,” an emotional Pearce said on Channel 7’s post-match broadcast.
“Her (Kate Hore) last quarter and also Tyla Hanks, the ability to finish that game the way she did, I think she’s the most underrated player in the league, Tyla Hanks.
“We don’t care where we play, we go there to win. They invited the wrong team to their housewarming,” Pearce said of playing at Springfield Stadium, Brisbane’s headquarters; the first time it has hosted a game.
Demon skipper and AFLW legend Daisy Pearce was emotional after the match – her first flag – but brushed off suggestions she would announce her retirement
Of course, the question on everyone’s lips was whether Pearce would follow Joel Selwood’s lead and retire from one of the great careers after a fairytale flag.
Seven commentator Abby Holmes was brave enough to ask, but she was quickly turned off by her broadcaster colleague.
‘I don’t think any further ahead than now. Don’t even think about it and rob me of these moments… I’m just so, so proud of this team,” Pearce said when asked if it was her last game.
“I felt uncomfortable the whole time because the story is about me. I feel like that’s a glorified thing that happens outside the four walls.
“Here (with the Demons) all I do is get the shit out of me. (I’m the butt of everyone’s jokes, but no coincidence, I’ll come here and keep playing,” Pearce laughed.
Melbourne superstar Tayla Harris celebrates scoring a goal in victory
Popular defender Libby Birch confirmed what everyone in footy already believed: Pearce is very special.
“No one was talking about it (Pearce’s possible retirement), but it certainly played a role,” she said after the game.
“She is one of the best people in the world and we are so glad we were able to do it for her. She is the best human being I have ever met and so proud of what she has done for this club.
‘Springers went wild’, as several AFLW stars said, as a sell-out crowd poured into the brand new stadium in Brisbane’s southwest for the first-ever match.
Fans gathered at the brand new Springfield Stadium in southwest Brisbane, with a sold-out game
It was the first game at any level at the venue, and fans lined up in the parking lot before the game
Australian superstar Delta Goodrem provided the pre-game entertainment and fans were wowed as the 38-year-old donned a glamorous black jumpsuit and turned back the clock with a generous helping of her most iconic hits.
Innocent Eyes, Lost Without You and Sitting on Top of the World were just a few of the dual threat artist’s songs that saw her tear up the stage, much to the delight of fans in the stadium and at home.
It comes just a month after the Born to Try singer shared the stage with Robbie Williams at the AFL Grand Final; which was the most popular pre-match entertainment in recent history.
Aussie pop icon Delta Goodrem was on fire in yet another iconic grand closing performance
The ‘Born to Try’ singer performed hits like Lost Without You, Innocent Eyes and Sitting on Top of the World to the delight of footy fans
‘This moment killed me! Bravo, Delta Goodrem,” “Delta Goodrem knocks it out of the park again with her performance,” and “Can we let Delta Goodrem do any pre-game entertainment in the future?” was just a small smidgen of the admiring praise that nearly broke Twitter.
Goodrem was followed by another stunning rendition of the Australian national anthem by go-anywhere man Cody Simpson, who is clearly as skilled in and out of the pool.
And then came the footie.
The Lions got off to a fast start in the first quarter in front of their boisterous home crowd, with Davidson netting in the game’s first goal eight minutes after an accurate Nat Grider pass.
Moments later a goal from Cathy Svarc followed, and when Grider put in arguably the best highlight of the match with a stunning Heath Shaw-esque descending tackle to stop a certain goal, it looked like they would be incredibly hard to beat .
But the Lions failed to get a goal for the rest of the game and were completely outplayed by the stubborn Demons side, who entered the game as outsiders.
Midfielders Eliza West, Olivia Purcell and veteran Karen Paxman were huge for the Dees, but Pearce said after the game one person in particular stood out as being important to the club’s culture.
“Mick Stinear, he’s a world class coach. He’s a great person and he built this program from the ground up,” she said after the win.
“We don’t have the best facility in the comp. We’re kind of off-Broadway and we’re not the most popular team out there. We don’t have the bells and whistles, we don’t give away cars to players who come – but we have the best coach.
“He’s the heart of this team and I just play for him,” Pearce said of the soft-spoken, unassuming mentor.
Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce and coach Mick Stinnear hold the AFLW season seven premiership cup after the side’s four-point victory over Brisbane
Brisbane certainly didn’t disgrace themselves and refused to give up when the game started to slip.
Such was her incredible dominance that nuggety defender Shannon Campbell – the solid wall – was awarded the Best on Ground medal and went on to deliver one of the more iconic acceptance speeches.
“Sorry, if I can’t talk very well, I was just puking in there, so apologies,” she said hoarsely on the presentation stand.
To the crowd, our families, all the supporters, both the Dees and the Lions fans, thank you so much for being in Springfield this week, as Greta said before, ‘Springers went wild’ so thank you for being so’ made a great party. great spectacle.
‘Thank you, everyone, from our group, our club, from head to toe… I’m so f***ing proud of you. Sorry! I shouldn’t have sworn. Sorry, I’m so sorry,” Campbell said, to the delight of the entire stadium.
Brisbane defender Shannon Campbell was so good at defending she won the Best on Ground medal on a losing team – and promptly gave a hilarious acceptance speech
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan may not have been there, as he didn’t judge the league enough to change his holiday, but that didn’t matter to the cheering Demons – who will no doubt be partying well into the night.
“I can’t wait to celebrate this (premiership) with you forever,” Pearce said, before raising the trophy.