BEHIND every fairytale there's a story of heartbreak, and in Melbourne's historic premiership win it was the senior players on the sidelines that were dealt mixed emotions of elation and pain.
After crossing from Greater Western Sydney at the end of 2019 Adam Tomlinson found his feet at the Demons and notched up 16 straight games from mid 2020 to early 2021, a period in which Melbourne lost just three matches.
But with the Dees flying high on the back of an undefeated start to the season disaster struck as Tomlinson went down with an ACL injury in round seven.
Despite taking well to the rehab work, the important defender failed to get back on the ground as his teammates marched to an emphatic flag victory.
Now the 28-year-old is using the pain of last season to drive him forward in 2022.
"I've got the fire in my belly big time," Tomlinson told the club's website.
"I wanted to come back and show that I'm ready to train, I'm ready to play, because I don't want to miss out on what the club got to experience.
MARK THESE IN YOUR CALENDAR 22 mouthwatering games you won't want to miss in 2022
"It was amazing for us, but it was hard at times just sitting there and watching everyone be involved and celebrate, but at the same time, I had my fair share of celebrations."
Tomlinson joined the senior players in Western Australia and even took part in some group training in the lead up to the Grand Final, but only now is he feeling fully back in the swing of things.
"I got a little bit of a taste of it in Perth – I did a couple of drills with the main group – but to be fully immersed back into the group, it's a super feeling.
"My knee's great. It doesn’t worry me, I don't even think of it on the field, so from that aspect, it's going really well."
Fellow veteran Jake Melksham also missed the premiership victory and the pair are using the lost chance as motivation to return as strong as ever.
"I sit in the locker room next to 'Melky' and we talk about it a lot, about how much we wanted to come back and train as much as we could and show everyone that we're ready to go," Tomlinson said.
"We want to play; we want to show everyone that we're still able to play football and we can't wait."