MELBOURNE premiership midfielder Lily Mithen has played both the preliminary and Grand Finals with a deep laceration to her shin from a routine motorbike action gone wrong.
The 24-year-old accidentally cut her right shin to the bone while attempting to kickstart a motorbike, with teammate Kate Hore and mum Selina taking her to the emergency department for stitches.
Mithen has played out the past two finals (recording 16 disposals and one goal last week, and five touches up forward on Sunday) with a protective guard on her lower shin and painkilling injections.
"It's been a bit painful, but nothing that'd stop me from playing in a Grand Final. A few stitches later, a jab this afternoon, and we were all good to go," Mithen told womens.afl.
"It happened Sunday week ago. I was with Kate Hore, I was down at the farm (Rosemont Stud, outside of Geelong) and I took a big chunk out of my shin. I thought 'that's a bit silly', and then I looked down at it and thought, 'oh, that's pretty bad'.
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"Kate looked at it, and she was like (puts on a high-pitched voice), 'ahhh, it's okay, it's okay'. She called my Mum to come and pick us up and we went straight to emergency. The team doctor was like 'what have you done?'
"But nonetheless, it was a big cut down to the shinbone. It's been pretty tender."
Mithen said the transition from hope to belief has been a cornerstone of Melbourne's campaign, having fallen short in last season's Grand Final.
The Demons even had a Ted Lasso-style "believe" sign on their changeroom wall at Brighton Homes Arena.
"Adelaide have clearly had a mental edge over us for the past six seasons, and we were able to overcome that hurdle (in the qualifying final) and genuinely believe. I think last time we were in a Grand Final, seven months ago, we didn’t hope, but there was probably an element deep within us that it was something we were thinking," she said.
"The Lions are an incredible side, such a fit outfit and a strong and competitive side. This is their fourth Grand Final, so there's no doubt they're as good as they are, but a few times they looked like they had a switch and that run and carry that really kickstarts that offence, but we were able to slow them up.
"A couple of times that happened, and I was like, no, we're on today, and our team defence will hold up and it should be fine.
"That mental edge, we came in at half-time and everyone was cool, calm and composed. That's just kind of the way we've played this season, nothing's been too overwhelming, too great a challenge, we've been there to chip in and get the job done."
Mithen's dad Anthony, a former broadcaster, then walked past the interview in the chaotic changerooms post-match and threw in a small backhander to his premiership-winning daughter.
"It's not a time to be serious – get the job done, we chipped in, any other cliches you want to throw in?" Anthony said.
"Nah, did it for my fans, my family, my dad, who's just joined in and taken over the interview," Lily replied with a grin.
Mithen is one of five inaugural Demons players still on the list, alongside Sarah Lampard, Lauren Pearce, Karen Paxman and captain Daisy Pearce, as well as coach Mick Stinear.
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"It's hard to put into words, really. Genuinely, I didn't know how I would feel winning, and then the siren goes – all week, it's just been about love and just doing it together and being there for each other," she said.
"That was the message we took into the week, that if we think about ourselves, we're not doing the right thing by the team, we want to make sure we assist the person next to us. I think we executed that to a tee today.
"It's so special, to be here with Mick and 'Dais'. As soon as we won the prelim, that was all I could visualise driving home from that game, envisioning them lifting the cup. I think I've cried about 12 times just visualising that all week. So to be able to have that core memory, and be part of that, is surreal."