Everyone involved with Fremantle, from the supporters, players and coaches, witnessed a miracle on Saturday at Fremantle Oval.

Amongst the excitement of Freo's 28-point win against West Coast, Ann McMahon broke through for her AFLW debut after it seemed there was no chance of her playing football again, let alone at the elite level.

On Christmas eve in 2019, she was struck down by a stolen car while working as a WA Police Officer on Tonkin Highway, with the car going between 70 to 80km per hour, by McMahon’s estimates.

After missing being drafted to Fremantle in 2018 because of an ACL injury, the significant damage caused by this incident seemed to put a tragic full stop on McMahon’s AFLW career just months after she was drafted to Fremantle in 2019.

Not only did the 27-year-old overcome all the odds to make her debut, she was among Fremantle’s most influential players with seven tackles and three clearances to go with her nine disposals.

In the week following the game, she spoke candidly about her ordeal and recovery in the latest episode of Kickin’ Back with hosts Hayley Miller and Emma O’Driscoll, where O’Driscoll called McMahon ‘the definition of resilience’.

“The injuries, there was a lot more to do with my knees than anything else and there also some staples that went into my head at the time in ED just for the wound that was there,” McMahon said.

“But the knees, I think what had happened was that they had both basically dislocated on impact. There was ruptured ACL, PCL, MCL. And a fractured leg where the LCL had torn off on one side as well with a little bit of meniscus in there on both.

“A lot that was going on and a lot to be restricted in both full length knee braces and on crutches. It was pretty uncomfortable.”

60:58 Mins
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PODCAST | Kickin' Back with Ann McMahon!

Raw, inspiring, heartwarming. This is the first time we've heard Ann McMahon share her incredible story of resilience, in a very special podcast with Hayley and Drisco. Plenty of laughs too, enjoy!

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McMahon felt it was a miracle just to be alive and used that feeling as the drive to return to full health.

“I’m just so grateful that it wasn’t more serious, it’s something I don’t want to take for granted,” McMahon said.

“I thought, if I’ve got this opportunity, even if it’s going to be a year or two years, realistically, I should either be dead or in a wheelchair and why waste this opportunity, this second chance?

“Initially, I don’t think there was a lot of confidence that I would be able to get back to playing footy, at any level. I don’t think that that was the main goal initially but I’m just a bit stubborn when it comes to things and I don’t like to let that opportunity slip.”

When the accident happened, a football career was far from McMahon’s mind - all she cared about was how her wife Izzy would take the news.

“The first thing that I do remember was that there was an off-duty nurse had come to render some assistance in the first instance and then after that, one of the boys from work, I just remember seeing his face and telling him to call Izzy,” McMahon said.

“He said she already knew and I was just like ‘oh no, she’s going to be so worried’ my first feeling was that Izzy is just going to be in pieces and meanwhile I was laying there in a spinal brace and blocking the entire of Tonkin Highway - so I’m really sorry for causing a traffic jam for a lot of people trying to get down south!”

The tears in the podcast room started flowing when McMahon spoke about how her wife physically and emotionally supported her through the toughest moments in her recovery.

“I don’t think I would have been as well off, or even got to this point without Iz,” McMahon said.

“As much as it might not make sense, without her being a rock and being there constantly, I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t get around the place. Yeah, it wasn’t easy and she just, she never wavered, you know? She’s incredible.

“There was a lot of ups and downs and it was just trying to break things down into one step at a time. Get one surgery done, fix that, get the next surgery done, fix that. And do whatever I can to get better.”

Alongside her wedding day, McMahon said her debut game was one of the best moments of her life.

She said it was difficult to believe it was real when she was told by senior coach Trent Cooper, head of football operations and performance Bob Murphy and AFLW manager Darryn Fry that she would play.

“I think when Coops, Frysy and Bob Murphy had initially told me on the Tuesday, I don’t think I said anything for a little bit because I was still just thinking ‘nah, nahhhh! Wake up! This isn’t the conversation that’s happening’,” McMahon said.

“I was waiting for the ‘let me down easy’ kind of thing. It was during that time that I kind of thought back and thought ‘wow’. It was just a lot to take in.

“I was oddly calm about the whole situation. I think the girls were a little bit nervous - maybe it still didn’t feel real but I just felt quite calm about what was about to happen.

“It was amazing to have my best mate Cam and Izzy present the jumper. It was an awesome day, one that I’ll never forget.”