Melissa Hickey could feel the excitement at first training session

HickeyMELISSA Hickey was like a kid on Christmas Eve.

The Melbourne marquee player, who grew up playing football with the boys, could hardly contain her nerves as she and her new Demons teammates prepared to train together on Gosch’s Paddock for the first time.

The weather did the Demons, Magpies — whose women’s outfit also took to the track for the first time further down the road at Olympic Park — no favours, but it didn’t matter.

Across town, the Western Bulldogs also hit the track.

It was their inaugural open training session, and not even Melbourne weather was going to rain on their parade.

“There’s been quite a bit of a build-up,” Hickey said.

“The marquee (players) were announced in July, so I’ve been gunning for this moment for quite a few months. We’ve had a few little different informal catch-ups as a group, but it’s all official.

“A few girls arrived nice and early and you could definitely feel the excitement among the group.

“This is the real stuff that as players we get excited by. I’ve been a bit nervous all day with butterflies in the tummy.

“It’s a whole new group and new coaches so it’s all really new for everyone.”

Star Collingwood marquee Moana Hope said that coming from community football to an AFL club was “mind-blowing”, with the facilities to match.

After booting more than 100 goals for St Kilda Sharks in this year’s VFL Womens season, Hope said being part of an elite training headquarters has made the experience real.

“I’ve gone just from local football, so coming into Collingwood, it’s just mind-blowing,” she said yesterday.

“The facilities, the people who run it, the guys who are playing in the teams, it’s just every kids’ dream.”

Hickey said she never knew what she had been missing before coming to Melbourne, which is based at AAMI Park. There was no pool, gym or altitude room at Darebin.

Not that it mattered, but she said it only further hits home what is in play now that the inaugural season of AFLW is on the horizon.

“You always just make the best with what you’ve got,” Hickey said.

“Now that you know what you’ve been missing out on, there is a real sense that this is that next level and the stakes are higher.”