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Melksham's baby girl helped during AFL ban

AAP logoAAP 18/11/2016 Michael Ramsey

Melbourne midfielder Jake Melksham says the birth of his daughter Frankie helped get him through the Essendon supplements saga.

Melksham and best mate Michael Hibberd will line up for the Demons for the first time next year after being among 34 past and present Bombers players banned this season.

Frankie's January birth came just days before the worst fears of the Essendon 34 were realised with 12-month bans handed down, throwing the Bombers and other AFL clubs into turmoil.

Several players have described the mental toll the ban took on them but it proved to be perfectly timed for Melksham.

"Having a baby this year has actually been really good for me," he said on Friday.

"I've got to spend every day with her. I haven't missed a thing. Now she's probably sitting at home and wondering where I am.

"I can honestly say if I didn't have her, I would have probably spent the whole year away and who knows what I would have been doing.

"I might have rebelled a little bit and been pretty bitter about things but that just kept me in a good positive frame of mind."

Melksham spent time travelling and worked as a labourer, a task which reinforced his desire to sustain his football career.

The 114-game midfielder, who was traded to Melbourne at the end of 2015, is confident he'll be able to fight his way into Melbourne's side despite their wealth of young talent.

Former teammate Hibberd says he struggled at times during his 12 months off but is eager for a fresh start with Melbourne after joining them during this year's trade period.

The 26-year-old is keen to reunite with new Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin, who previously served as an assistant at Essendon, and to play as part of a youthful Demons group.

"Just being here the first two weeks and seeing how upbeat the young guys are, they're just an exciting group and they're only going to get better," he said.

"With the year off, I've really learned to love footy a lot more. I realised that I missed it a lot. This is really what I want to do."

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