It took Lauren Gilcrist 16 years to win one premiership with the Sunbury Lions, now she’s a five-time premiership player.

On Saturday, Gilcrist played a vital role in helping the Lions win the A-grade premiership against North Ballarat City, their first since 2013.

Gilcrist was part of that 2013 team and then played in B-grade premierships in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Gilcrist said this premiership was special.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said.

“In 2013 it was the first one I’d ever won after playing for such a long time.

“To have this come round again with a great bunch of girls, it’s amazing we’ve been able to do it again.

“Every year the league is getting stronger and stronger. Five in a row, they might think I’m the lucky charm or something.”

Having stepped down to B-grade the past few years, Gilcrist was happy to continue in that grade, before a conversation in the off season with coach Adam Boldiston.

Boldiston told her he had her in his plans for the A-grade side if she was prepared to take on the challenge.

“I sort of thought after moving down to B-grade over the last few years that I was starting to make my way down and out as I got older.

“Then to be invited and pushed up … they wanted me to be a part of this team.

“This team especially has welcomed me and taught me a lot even though I’m so much older than them.

“They’ve been teaching me week after week so much more, it’s very special, I’m not just a bench player but a key player.”

Gilcrist didn’t look out of place in the grand final and had a couple of key intercepts late in the game.

Gilcrist said it was about putting everything you’ve got out on the court.

This year’s premiership comes 20 years after the Lions fielded their first netball team in the Ballarat Football Netball League. Gilcrist was part of that first team.

“What’s sweetest for me is in 1997 we brought a netball team to the BFL and I was only 16 and I was part of that.

“So this is a 20-year reunion of that and it meant a lot. There was some tears when we finally finished it.”

Gilcrist said she would let things settle before deciding on her netballing future. She said she was considering retiring, but has one good reason to keep going.

“My daughter is 10 now and she keeps saying I have to keep playing until we play together, so that’s probably a bucket list item. We’ll see if the body holds out.”

An emotional Lauren Gilcrist and coach Adam Boldiston. Picture Shawn Smits.