A conversation with AFL football operations manager Steve Hocking helped AFLW star Melissa Hickey reach her decision to join Geelong after two years with Melbourne.
The 33-year-old, who bears the surname of famous Geelong figure Reg Hickey – her grandfather's cousin – said Hocking's advice was the best she received as she agonised over her decision.
Melissa Hickey injured her ACL while playing for Melbourne last season.
"He said, 'put money out of the equation. Money will come and go. It's what will get you out of bed every morning and get you excited for footy, what will make footy fun'," Hickey said.
"It was the best bit of advice I got out of all the people I spoke to. It really did help."
Hickey, who grew up in Mildura, said she also consulted several of her family and friends but the chat with Hocking, who worked at Geelong before joining the AFL, enabled her to frame the decision in the right manner.
She said it didn't make the decision any easier but she eventually decided it was the right decision for her and she gets a nice feeling in her heart when she looks up to the Reg Hickey stand on the outer wing of GMHBA Stadium.
"It was a really tough couple of weeks deliberating over leaving somewhere where I have been really happy and really comfortable, to come to play for a club my family has really loved and has been in my heart since I was a kid," Hickey said.
Hickey will take on a role at Geelong mentoring the VFL squad as she recovers from the ACL injury she suffered during this year's AFLW season.
Her teammate Richelle Cranston, who also joined Geelong after two seasons with Melbourne, said she had shed some tears when telling her former teammates of the decision.
She agreed it was a difficult environment for all AFLW players and clubs as they weighed up where they wanted to play in 2019.
"It's a hard one but for the development of women's football it has to happen," Cranston said.
"You can't just have all the best players staying at one club, it won't be as enjoyable for everyone to watch so for the growth of women's football it has to happen."
Cranston, who has lived in Geelong for about six years, said her Melbourne teammates understood the decision.
Geelong's VFLW best and fairest winner Lily Mithen, who grew up in Geelong but lives in Melbourne, decided to stay with Demons.
Geelong's AFLW coach Paul Hood said the club respected Mithen and her decision.
"She was in a really difficult position," Hood said.
"She has a lot of friends here and a lot of friends in Melbourne and she was going to have to leave one of those groups which is an unfortunate part of the environment as it is at the moment."
Geelong also signed ruckman Erin Hoare and utility Anna Teague, who were both rookies with Melbourne in 2018.
The expansion signing period begins on Friday and will last 10 days with Geelong and North Melbourne allowed to sign a maximum of four players from each existing club unless they are given AFLW approval as the build a list before joining the competition in 2019.
A draft order will then be set before a trading and free agency period commences with the preliminary list lodgments made in early June.
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