IT didn't take Saturday's premiership success or a pair of 2022 best and fairest trophies to prove Mandy Griffiths is a true champion, but those accolades were most certainly a reward for hard work.
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A whole lot of hard work.
This year was the first time Griffiths had played a full season of hockey since 2019 when she played Premier League for Souths.
In between was her fight with cancer. It was brutal, it involved a number of long operations and a tough recovery, but Griffiths beat it.
Through that battle Griffiths had received plenty of support from the hockey community, so this season she was eager to again be involved as a player.
It wasn't easy, but Griffiths hasn't ever been one to back away from a challenge.
"Every week since the first training it's just been a grind, it's like 'Alright what's our job to do today?'," she said.
"You get in there and train hard with the squad and do what you need to do.
"At the start of the year, my body, I'd lost a lot of my muscle, I didn't know what I could do. I played a pre-season comp down in Canberra and I couldn't run very well.
"I did some pre-season stuff with the Premier League squad, they'd do a lap warm up and I'd do a quarter of a lap and couldn't run that, so I knew I was starting from scratch.
"I wasn't sure what I'd be able to do, but I worked hard to start with to get myself where I needed to. I wasn't sure if first grade would be alright, but after the training sessions and I was on the pitch, I knew it was achievable."
But Griffiths did more than just get out on the pitch on Sundays. She lined up in the first grade Bathurst Women's Hockey competition.
She made brilliant tackles, she sparked plenty of attack and she scored some cracking goals.
Last Saturday night when Souths held its presentation she was named first grade best and fairest for that side.
Then this Saturday when the Bathurst Women's presentation was held Griffiths was named most valued player for the entire first grade competition.
"It's been a big year, I wasn't expecting the individual accolades," she said.
"To go out there and for the team to get the success, that was the big thing.
"I wasn't expecting it from the club. Sammy Brown, I think she got runner-up for our club team and runner-up for the association as well. I'd coached her the year before I'd had time off and she was still sort of developing into that player, but to get back on the field with her, I was just in awe of her every week.
"The quality of players in our team alone, let alone the comp, it really was just incredible. I was really blindsided by it.
"We do our players' player, I think I only won it once for the season, we sort of shared it around, so I wasn't really focussed on that, I was focussed on my job to do when I was on the pitch."
On Saturday Griffiths' job was to try and help Souths win a Bathurst Women's Hockey grand final against St Pat's
It was box ticked as they won 2-1 and it was Griffiths' powerful drive from a penalty corner that was responsible for the first of those goals.
Griffiths revealed there was no great planning behind it.
"We don't actually have a coach for our team, I think that's pretty typical for our first grade. Ali Stanford would organise our players and run us each week which was a huge task, because she was playing as well. We'd have nine players some weeks and five subs the next week, so it was incredibly difficult," she said.
"So in terms of plans for short corners we didn't really have a coach sit us down and say 'This is what I want us to do'.
"We got to the top of the circle and said 'Who's on? Let's just sort of get towards the goal and work on the rebounds' because we'd been practicing that.
"Kirsten [Fitzpatrick] asked me 'Do you want a stick-trapper' and I thought I may as well. So it was quite impromptu.
"It come off really sweetly and was going straight."
Her shot was so powerful that even though the St Pat's goalkeeper got a foot to it, it bounced off her kicker and into the net.
That triggered scenes of celebration. Then, 64 minutes later, Griffiths was celebrating again after Brown scored in golden goal extra-time to clinch the win.
"One of the young girls said she'd never seen a post-goal celebration with so much passion. But I was so excited when it went in, I wear my heart on my sleeve and that's what I was brought up with," Griffiths said.
"So it was genuine excitement when I scored but also when Sammy put that goal in in extra-time, I was quite overwhelmed when that happened."
It meant Griffiths became a champion. Again.
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