MELBOURNE’S AFLW pre-season officially kicks off on Tuesday night, with the girls returning to the club to begin their 2020 campaign.
And they’re certainly happy about it.
“It is very exciting to be back,” Lily Mithen told Melbourne Media.
“I feel like everyone misses it a heap, so when it comes around it’s always good fun.
“Just to see you best mates almost every day of the week and come and kick a footy around – it’s definitely what we love doing.
“I think everyone’s sick of running laps on their own, so to get the group together and hang out with the group, it's always good fun.”
While the return to AAMI Park has been a long time coming, Mithen says the girls are well prepared to attack the fourth year of the AFLW competition.
“I definitely feel like myself, and the whole group collectively, is in really good shape,” she said.
“We’ve been together for a while now and I think with the delay of pre-season starting it’s been nice to slowly introduce the new girls into the program a bit earlier.
“I feel like everyone is comfortable with where they’re at heading into night one.
“It feels like night one should’ve been ages ago, but it falls tonight and we’re ready to go.”
Importantly, the Demons have been able to retain their core group during the AFLW’s expansion for 2020, but Mithen is enthused by some of the team’s additions over the off-season.
“It’s always exciting to add some girls to the list,” she said.
“We put great responsibility in Todd Patterson’s hands to pick up new talent, but I guess more so new friends.
“The new girls have slotted in really well.
“Libby (Birch) has been around for the majority of the year now which has been nice and she’s well and truly a Demon at the moment.
“The Irish girls are settling nicely – both great characters with a wealth of experience in playing sport at the highest level possible.
“And then the new draftees are still trying to find their feet but they’re all really good people and have been around the club heaps, so they shouldn’t feel too intimidated coming in tonight.”
There is an evident bond that ties Melbourne’s side, with a culture created that Mithen loves being a part of.
“It is such a good group which is why we love it so much and why we’ve had some good solid successes along the way,” she said.
“We do enjoy each other’s company and bring the best out of one another.”
The girls’ hit Gosch’s Paddock on Tuesday night for their first session as a group and will be out on the track again on Thursday evening.