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A match unlike any other: Cramey

They say you should hope for the best but prepare for the worst and that’s certainly what I was doing heading into last year’s Grand Final.

Not for the game itself but because I had all but conceded my spot in the side due to lingering effects from a head knock I’d sustained the week before.

AFLW Grand Final week is a crazy experience and a lot of the girls became more excited and nervous as the week progressed but it wasn’t a factor for me — not until the day itself anyway.

I was sent home the day after we came back from Melbourne and took the full week off work to get my health right.

My mind was a bit foggy, concentration was an issue and I became agitated at times but was getting better as the week progressed.

The night before the Grand Final, I failed the concussion test again so I’d given up hope of playing in the history-making contest.

I met the doctor while getting a coffee at 8am on Grand Final day and had one last screening. Unexpectedly, I passed.

All the nerves and excitement my teammates were adapting to during the week hit me at once — I hadn’t even visualised playing on the day but all of a sudden it became a reality.

It wasn’t a normal game. Although we tried to keep everything the same in terms of training standards, your routine gets thrown out of the window with the extra media commitments, travel and more.

As a group, we’d never been to Queensland together so it was another new experience that ended a year of new experiences.

I remember Chelsea Randall, the experienced campaigner that she is, being really calm before the match and that extended to the playing group. She’s an amazing leader.

If anything, I wish I enjoyed my time more and soaked up the atmosphere more. You tend to stay focussed but there isn’t a lot I’d change because whatever we did seemed to work.

I’d played in a premiership a few times with Morphetville Park but this was a whole new level. The game itself was the most contested game of footy I’ve ever been a part of.

Everyone was willing to do anything and there was sense of urgency with each contest. It was unbelievable to be a part of.

To the girls taking part this weekend, enjoy the time you have together. You’re doing something everyone wishes they were doing. It’s a great achievement to get to this stage but trust me when I say that you want to go that one step further. It’s well worth it.

I grew up wanting to be an AFL footballer and to be able to fulfil that dream and then achieve the ultimate within it meant everything to me. It’s one of the best achievements of my life.

I wouldn’t change a thing from last year — except I’d probably try and not get concussed the week before.