In 2021, the Melbourne Demons finally went back to the days of old winning a premiership on the road in a once in a lifetime Perth grand final.
Star Melbourne defender Steven May tore his right hamstring in the preliminary final win over Geelong – but he wasn’t told by the club’s medical team until after the grand final.
May entered Saturday’s premiership decider against the Western Bulldogs under an injury cloud after suffering the hamstring scare in the preliminary final demolition of Geelong.
The 29-year-old was sent in for scans, but told the club not to tell him the results for fear it could affect his performance in the grand final.
The scans showed a tear in the hamstring, but the club’s medical staff stayed true to May’s request and instead let the All-Australian prove his fitness out on the track.
The Demons took a risk by selecting May for the grand final, and the 171-game veteran tore the hamstring again in the second quarter.
May ploughed through to finish the game, and it was only when he walked off that the team doctor informed him that he had actually torn it in the preliminary final as well.
“I didn’t know that I had torn it,” May told AAP after the 74-point win over the Bulldogs that ended Melbourne’s 57-year premiership drought.
“They wanted to scan it, and I said, ‘I don’t want to know the result, because I want to play’.
“So we went off my symptoms, and I trained well and all that. I knew something was wrong because they were a bit sheepish around it.
“I asked not to know, because if they told me something was wrong, I don’t know if that would have affected my performance.
“Tonight when I was walking off the doctor came up to me, and she was like, ‘do you want to know about the result?’ And I was like, ‘yeah’.”
May was below his best in the grand final, and it was no surprise given he suffered another tear in the second quarter.
“I went for a ground ball and I heard it again, and I was like, ‘no, something is wrong there’,” he said.
“I just knew it was there, but I was like, ‘I need to perform, I need to win a premiership. If I can suck it up for another hour, I’ll be a premiership player’.
“So I went with that. I just feel like everything I’ve done in my whole career, is worth it for this one thing.”
Demons coach Simon Goodwin said May’s injury against the Cats would have sidelined him for several weeks if it had occurred during the regular season.
“It was solid, yeah,” Goodwin said.
“He had a reasonable tear to it but the medicos and the fitness staff did an unbelievable job.
“He had a scan and there were some results there that weren’t great. We treated it clinically; all his strength was there, he trained fully, he got through all the tests and we were prepared to take that risk, as he was.
“If it was round 14, he’s probably not playing. You would have given him a few weeks just to settle it down a little bit but we haven’t got a few weeks, we had to win today. And he was fit and he was ready.”