James Hird’s daughter Stephanie joins Essendon’s VFL Women’s squad
THERE could be another Hird running out for Essendon next year after Stephanie Hird, daughter of club legend James, joined the Bombers’ women’s team.
The 18-year-old hit the track with Essendon’s VFL Women’s squad on Tuesday alongside the daughter of another club legend, Machaela Long.
Stephanie was a promising junior tennis player but has a future in Aussie rules if her bloodlines are anything to go buy.
Her father James is one of Essendon’s most decorated players, winning a Brownlow Medal and two premierships in a 253-game career.
He was welcomed back into the AFL fold following the Bombers’ supplement scandal when he presented the Norm Smith Medal to Dustin Martin after this year’s Grand Final.
“It’s really exciting for the club,” Essendon’s women’s coach Brendan Major told the club’s website.
“The father-son structure in men’s football is really exciting and it’s a way of keeping those kinds of big names who have added a lot to clubs within the club.
“So, to be able to have those two in the women’s program is huge for the Essendon Football Club.”
When James Hird played his final AFL game in 2007, Stephanie — then aged eight — wrote a short article for the Herald Sun.
“I love watching Dad play footy. I feel proud when I watch him get the ball and kick goals,” she wrote.
“I love going to the rooms … I especially like playing on the equipment — the rope, the crash mat and the boxing ring and playing footy with the players.”
Stephanie’s three brothers are all enrolled in Essendon’s James Hird Academy to develop the sons of former players, with 16-year-old Tom the first to become available under the father-son rule.
Essendon will field a team in the expanded VFL Women’s comp next season along with AFL clubs Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Richmond and St Kilda.
However, it is unclear when the Bombers will join the AFLW. The AFL announced in September that Geelong and North Melbourne will join the competition in 2019 with Richmond, St Kilda, West Coast and Gold Coast to follow in 2020.
Michaela Long was the face of Essendon’s bid for an AFLW licence after turning down offers from other clubs to play for the club her father Michael represented in 190 games.