Daisy Pearce and Mick Stinear holding up the premiership cup. (Photo: AFL Womens / Twitter)

When people think of the Melbourne Football Club and more specifically their AFLW side, one of the first individuals that comes to mind is Daisy Pearce. 

Pearce has announced that she is retiring from AFLW football after a storied career which included 55 games for the Melbourne Demons as captain.

Her long list of accolades includes being a three-time All-Australian winner, three-time club Best and Fairest, four-time best AFLW captain as voted by the Player’s Association as well as most recently, a premiership winning captain in season seven.

One of the people right by her side for the whole journey was Melbourne head coach Mick Stinear, who was the clubs’ inaugural coach. 

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Stinear said he couldn’t quite put into words what Pearce has done for the Melbourne Football Club but her ability to allow others to reach new heights is definitely a stand-out while describing her as the ultimate captain.

“[I’ve had a] couple of sleepless nights leading up to today to try and describe what Daisy has been able to do as a player, the impact she’s had on our club and the competition and I still can’t find the words.” Stinear said. 

“As a player, [it was] just a unique game awareness, [she was] just a step ahead of everyone else and just unmatched in the competition for how she reads the game and see if the game. [She] plays with the competitive spirit that is so inspiring to those that watch, whether you’re Melbourne supporter or not, but certainly for teammates in clutch moments in games, just knows what to do.

“I think the leadership side of things which is so rare, she can really nail her own performance but goes out of her way to support and inspire others to play and execute their roles. So not only can she maintain a high level of performance, but she can extract that from others and get so much joy out of watching others succeed. 

Stinear then reflected on her ability playing down in the forward-line in the twilight of her career saying that it was one of the things he enjoyed about watching the game.

“I’m gonna miss watching her play, it’s pretty unique, some of the things that she can do. Can play any position on the ground and has such a good understanding of the game. It’s been a joy to watch her play up forward at the back end of her career.

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The legacy that Pearce has left behind at the Melbourne Football Club will be remembered for many years to come.

This legacy spans to almost a decade ago after being selected by the Demons in the first ever women’s draft at pick number one for the historic exhibition matches back in 2013. 

Stinear spoke on Pearce’s desire and drive from the very beginning, saying “Dais was on the interview panel when I first went for the job, so I’ve got Daisy to thank for actually being here.”

“We both wanted to win right from the start, and with a number of us as well, there are a number of players that have been here from the beginning.

“We came short plenty of times and the soul searching was there at the end of the year. What are we going to do? How are we going to get better and just to share that whole journey together?

“There’s been so many highs, but there’s also been a lot of lows and we’ve both got young families and we’ve got a really good friendship that extends well beyond footy, so that’s not going to change.”

Stinear reflected on the sacrifices Pearce had made after moving back to Bright over the Covid-19 period and how over the last few seasons, her impact around the club set the Demons up for success.

“Daisy has had the greatest impact on our program, our culture, our field success and performance and there was times during COVID were Dais and Ben went back to Bright and set up there and there was those moments of we’re going to get her back.”

“Logistically I think the last three seasons have made no sense at all but she’s just found a way with Ben and (her) extended family to make it work. So I’ll just cherish the last couple of seasons knowing that you know at any stage she didn’t owe us anything.  

“To have the season we did and be able share that with the whole group and I think it’s just great reward for someone who’s given so much to our club, to the women’s game and to the game of Australian Rules Football, so it’s been a good full stop on Daisy’s chapter as a player and there’s more exciting things to come.” 

While naming an award in Pearce’s honour is out of his control, Stinear said that one thing that will be remembered for the next generation of Melbourne AFLW players is the commitment and impact Pearce had on the football club. 

“I know she’ll have a continued impact on our program and our club and how we go about things. Daisy’s approach of hard work, always looking to raise the bar but then blend that in with this selflessness, it’s quite rare.

“So those behaviours and those character traits that will live on through our players and our leaders and how we aspire to go about our business.  

“Whether there’s an opportunity to name things or titles, that will be out of my hands and beyond my control but the more important thing is the impact Daisy has had on our people. That will carry on.

 “The next generation to come through the club will make sure they’re fully aware of Daisy’s impact and commitment to the club and how she went about her business and how we’ll continue to move forward.”

Pearce will move into the world of coaching, after accepting a role with the reigning premiers of the men’s competition in Geelong as an assistant coach. Stinear said Pearce’s ability to build relationships with anyone around the club will be one of the many things that makes her such a great coach. 

“It’s a great opportunity for Daisy now. She’s not lost to footy which I think is the most important thing. She’s got a genuine passion for the game and love helping and developing others and now she’s entering another phase of her, I guess, footy story and she’s gonna get a lot of joy and success will follow her, I’ve got no doubt about that.  

“I think the love of the game that drives everything… combine that with genuine care for people and an ability to build and establish relationships, whether it’s with a CEO, a president, an 18 year old that’s just got drafted.

“Coaching is just that, your capacity to work with people and help get the best out of them. Daisy gets genuine joy out of watching others develop and improve and she’s gonna get so much satisfaction out of coaching, doing that and also just a relentless pursuit to want to be the best in what you do and not just her personally, but the team. She’s very team oriented, she’ll be driven to see any team she’s involved with succeed. 

“It’s all those things blended together, she’ll be a great coach.”

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