Netball: Steel import can laugh at near-death experience

By Adrian Seconi of the Otago Daily Times

Demelza McCloud has played for three ANZ Championship franchises. Photo / Getty Images
Demelza McCloud has played for three ANZ Championship franchises. Photo / Getty Images

Who would let a little thing like nearly bleeding to death slip by without a laugh? Not Demelza McCloud. The towering Steel goal keep who has always had a devilish sense of humour.

But her ability to revel in every grim detail of a serious accident that nearly cost her her life sets her apart from the more regular comedians among us.

The 31-year-old had had a busy but successful day at work and was enjoying a hot shower at her home in Adelaide in October.

Her mind had drifted to an evening of calamari and a nice glass of red wine with a friend at one of her favourite Greek restaurants, when she slipped.

Her elbow shattered a ceramic shelf, and the exposed sharp edges sliced deep cuts into her left arm and the back of her shoulder.

Her tricep muscle was "split open like a chicken breast'' and she narrowly escaped severing a major artery. She was alone in the house and basically lying in the middle of a "murder scene'' trying to call for an ambulance on her smart phone.

"My phone wouldn't work because it was wet and I was bleeding so much,'' she said.

"So I went back to my phone and dried it off with clothes and finally got through to the ambulance. But, you know, you call and it's like, 'For police blah blah blah, for fire blah blah blah, for ambulance blah blah blah. I said to myself, 'Are you kidding me? I'm on hold'.''

Emergency staff advised her to lie back down and wait for the paramedics to arrive.

"I lied down and just kept saying, 'Please apologise to them that I'm not clothed. They're going to walk into my arse in their face.'''

The paramedics had to break through the door and "follow the blood smear''.

"The house looked like a murder scene and there I am in a big pool of blood, starting to go white.

"I didn't know about my back then and said to the guy, 'I reckon I've scratched my back'.

"He's leant over me and gone, 'Bleurghhh'. He didn't expect it because it looked so horrific. It was all guts and skin and there was glass in it.''

Once in the hands of a surgeon, McCloud had a cheeky suggestion.

"I did ask the surgeon for plastic surgery, as in breast implants. I told him I'd done all the incisions and all he needed to do was put the silicon in.''

That's McCloud - a laugh a minute. She charmed her team-mates with her zany sense of humour when she played for the Otago Rebels in 2007. She is thrilled to be back in Dunedin and is looking forward to making an impact for the Steel.

"Dunedin suits me. I can scoot around and everyone smiles and waves. It is like being at home.''

McCloud played nine tests for Australia and since leaving Dunedin has played for three ANZ Championship franchises. The Steel will be her fourth side in five years.

"I'm a bit of a tart,'' she joked.

She had not planned on skipping from team to team but life had made it that way.

"I didn't have an opportunity to have a contract in Adelaide, and Craig [her husband] was not prepared to leave his business. So I would have to go away to play and I kept making these decisions at the end of the season that this is it.

"But I was nowhere near finished because I have such a strong passion for the game still.''

The couple are separated and McCloud is throwing herself into her netball. She won a premiership with her Adelaide club side, Matrics, last year.

It was a big deal. The team had lost the grand final by one goal in extra time the year earlier. It was shortly after that success, she got the opportunity to play for the Steel.

"Jodi [Brown] Facebooked me and said, 'What are you doing next year?'''

Brown and McCloud played alongside each other at the Rebels and for the Canterbury Tactix in 2008, and remain close friends. They will join forces for the new-look Steel with Brown slotting the goals and McCloud carrying the defensive end.

- Otago Daily Times

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