Trending topics

Select your station

We'll remember your choice for next time

“I was like ‘far out, stuff this’”: Steven May reveals early struggles at the Demons


Steven May has opened up about the doubts he had over his move to Melbourne in the early days.

The former Gold Coast captain shifted from the Suns to the Demons in the 2018 trade period, and although he would go on to be a premiership player and a two-time All-Australian at his second club, things did not start out so positively.

May played just eight games in his injury-riddled debut season with the Dees in 2019 after he was deemed to be “fat and unfit” when he first arrived. He was then dragged pillar to post after he was seen drinking in public while rehabbing his groin injury.

The key defender admits he certainly did not expect to create unwanted headlines so swiftly after his move to Melbourne.

“My first year at Melbourne I was really excited for my fresh start coming from the Gold Coast,” he told the Ausmerican Aces podcast.

“I didn’t really expect what happened when I got here. I was touted as being fat, unfit, all these things.

“Even though based on the running I was doing at the Gold Coast I was right in where I’d normally be. But I guess they just had higher standards or expectations of me being a high-profile recruit.

“I’d never been a great runner and 2kms was not a great way to judge me, but that’s what they did. In the pre-season you can’t really play games on the weekend to win the trust from the media or your fans, so it’s pretty hard.

“It’s a long wait, you’re busting your ass. I took it pretty personally and tried to work really hard to get really fit, and I did.”

Regarding the drinking-in-public episode, which coach Simon Goodwin scolded him for, May provided further context.

His relationship with his partner had just come to an end and he had yet to form any meaningful relationships with his teammates, leaving him feeling isolated.

That was the major reason why he had a beer or two in public, also driving him to ponder if he had made the right move to join Melbourne.

“It was a 12-13 week injury. Throughout that period I was trying and trying to get back, I was starting to go well, and then me and my girlfriend broke up,” May added.

“It was a pretty tough breakup. I went to the pub and had a few beers on my own, got photographed having a beer.

“‘Goody’ rang me and he was very angry. I said ‘mate, calm down, I just had a couple of beers, my missus was waiting to go to the airport and we’d just broken up. I didn’t want to be at home with her’. He said ‘you’re in rehab, you can’t drink. I said ‘I know that but I just had a breakup’, but he said ’no, you can’t drink’ and just hung up.

“I was like ‘far out, stuff this’. I didn’t really care, not a big deal. I didn’t realise it would be in the newspaper tomorrow (the next day), all the footy talk shows, and I got absolutely dragged. It was very tough.

“I didn’t know what to do. I had to stand up and apologise to my teammates. I told them what happened and they were like ‘what are you apologising for?’


“They all said ‘don’t go to the pub next time’. I didn’t really have any friends yet because I wasn’t playing games, I was injured. It’s hard to relate and build those relationships because in rehab you’re away from the team, you’re in a different program. You don’t get to know your coaches or teammates, you don’t really have any mates at the club yet.

“They were like, ‘sorry you went through that, you should have come to my house and had a few beers’. I said ‘well, I didn’t really know you, I wasn’t going to rock up at your house’.

“That was really tough and I sought out some advice. ‘This is really hard, what have I done? I should have stayed on the Gold Coast, I’ve made a blunder here’. On the Goldy I could have had 10 beers at the pub and I would have been fine.

“I got some good advice - ‘no one cares what you’ve got to say, just get fit again, show them how good you are, I’m telling you they’ll jump back on your side’.

“I was like ‘it’s not going to happen, that’s not going to work, these guys are ruthless down here’.”

After his rough start, May hit his straps in red and blue in season 2020 when finishing second to Christian Petracca in the best and fairest.

He would then put all the early Demons trauma behind him when helping the club to a drought-breaking premiership in 2021 while also earning the first of his two All-Australian selections.

“Another big pre-season and got to my next year in 2020, and we were in the hub away from Melbourne. I probably had my best year, runner-up in the best and fairest and we just missed finals,” the 32-year-old said further.

“That year in the hub probably helped build those relationships with my teammates because we had to. I was obviously playing good football, the coaches were back on me, the media was back on me, (saying I was) a great recruit and all this stuff. It was good to read after reading a lot of negative things.

“Then that sort of propelled my career at Melbourne. When I was able to play good and we ended up winning the flag, it made it all the more sweet. I don’t wish that on anyone, to go through that, but the fact that it did happen it was kind of like I had that medal and this was just everything I wanted and more, and even better given that I wanted to go home and I was hating it down here.

“Now you’re playing in front of 90,000 at the ‘G and the fans love you, it’s a surreal feeling.”

eDM Leaderboard (6)

Melbourne Gold Coast

More in AFL