Miscellaneous VFLWomen comments and articles

Alternative version of the captains photo the VFLW put in their first tweet (with some additional cropping and improvements by myself):

1 Like

Since the EFC didn’t list them, I’ve added heights (a few of the younger players may outgrow the below).

Calder’s Tahlia Gillard is 190cm @ 17yo?


(Thomay looks to be 160-something.)

P.S. Unlike the EFC site, I went to the effort of including Simone Nalder. As the hit-out leader of the league and our ex-captain, I thought it was the least I could do.

1 Courtney Ugle 24 160
2 Felicity Theodore 19 168
3 Monique DeMatteo 23 168
4 Mia-Rae Clifford 34 170
5 Georgia Nanscawen 28 162
6 Alex Quigley 24 168
7 Jessie Davies 24 170
8 Eloise Ashley-Cooper 20 165
9 Marianna Anthony 23 168
10 Eleanor Cornish 21 177
11 Alana Barba 19 165
13 Elizabeth Hosking 25 168
14 Thomay Nicolaou 28 ?
15 Lauren Caruso 21 161
16 Tamsin Crook 18 176
17 Federica Frew 24 167
18 Kendra Heil 32 166
19 Nicole Julian 28 168
20 Cecilia McIntosh 41 160
21 Alex Morcom 24 166
22 Natalie MacDonald 22 164
24 Georgie Prespakis 17 168
25 Lori Stepnell 25 174
26 Taylor Moss 27 178
27 Terira Fry 19 170
28 Emma Mackay 30 168
30 Simone Nalder 30 186
31 Eloise Gardner 22 175
40 Laura Cocomello 18 173
41 Jemma Finning 18 165
42 Elizabeth Snell 18 161
44 Grace Dicker 20 166
46 Gloria Elarmaly 20 173
47 Emilia Yassir 17 160
- Tahlia Gillard 17 190
- Zali Friswell 17 165
- Shelby Meyers 19 161
- Kasey Lennox 17 174
- Neve Crowley 17 175

Darebin and Willy had a who’s-worst fight?

Willy 2.5.17 defeated the Falcons 1.9.15

“Upon the conclusion of the AFLW season, VFLW sides will only be able to field up to 10 AFLW players per match.”

Not clear if this means the end of individual team’s seasons, or the end of finals.

Now we’re just rubbing it in Coburg’s face!

Childhood Bombers supporter Eloise Gardner is living the dream. (Photo: Essendon FC)

When Essendon VFLW debutant Eloise Gardner took to the NEC Hangar for round one against the Southern Saints, it was extra significant as she ran out not only as a player, but as a lifetime Bombers supporter.

The 22-year-old, who grew up idolising Matthew Lloyd and James Hird, started following Essendon through her grandfather Ken Parker, who played at the club in the 1960s.

For Gardner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps, it was extremely special for not only herself but also for her family, who have been her biggest supporters since she started playing football at the age of 17.

“My grandpa was at the Bombers for a year back in the ‘60s and I don’t think he ever played a game, but he has been a passionate Essendon supporter ever since so my whole family are Essendon (supporters),” Gardner said.

"It was very special for (my family) as well. They have supported me the whole way to get me to this point, so it was very special for them.

“To get to that point and play my first game means a lot and was very exciting. It made all the hard work it took to get there worth it.”

Eloise Gardner on the track. (Photo: Celie Hay)

As a 17-year-old, Gardner played her first season of football for Darebin Falcons in the under-18 competition, spending another three years in their senior side before making the move to Essendon ahead of the cancelled 2020 season.

It wasn’t until the AFLW was established in 2017 and the introduction of Essendon into the VFLW in 2018, however, that Gardner realised the goal of playing for the club she grew up supporting wasn’t so far out of reach.

"It is one of those things that as a kid you don’t think will ever happen. You hope it might but then especially as a female, you realise that it might not happen the way you dream of as a kid,” Gardner said.

“When the AFLW competition was announced, I had just started playing footy for Darebin. Then all of the AFLW teams wanted VFLW teams which was when Essendon came in, so it was always in the back of my mind that I’d love to have the opportunity to play for them so then I decided to move clubs and play for Essendon.”

Since moving to Essendon, Gardner has formed many close friendships but has a special bond with vice-captain Courtney Ugle, who presented Gardner with her Bombers jumper before the round one clash with the Southern Saints.

"I didn’t know she was going to (present the jumper) so it was very special for ‘Ugez’ (Ugle) to do that. She was one of the first people who welcomed me into the club when I first got there, and she is such a positive, happy person around the club,” she said.

“We have become quite good friends over the past year, so it was very special for her to be able to do that."

As well as Ugle, Gardner has also learnt from other senior members of the team as she works towards developing her role as a key-position player in the Bombers’ backline.

“I look up to our captain ‘G’ (Georgia Nanscawen) a lot. She played hockey for Australia, so I think that’s pretty cool,” she said.

"'Sim’ (Simone Nalder) is someone who has taken me under her wing a lot as well. I knew her from Darebin and we did a few running sessions together during COVID. She has a lot of leadership experience, so she has been able to guide me a lot with that as well.”

Looking towards the rest of the year, Gardner has aspirations of being drafted to the AFLW, however, after the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID, she wants to enjoy being able to play footy again.

“I’d love to get to the AFLW eventually, but I think after not being able to play footy for the past year, I just want to enjoy playing footy and enjoy being at Essendon,” she said.

“If I can play every game in the VFLW, that would be very special.”

Gardner and the VFLW Bombers will take on the Casey Demons in their round two match at Casey Fields on Saturday at 1pm.


Behind-the-scenes 30 minute video (OK, the second half is about the men, but whatevs):

The culture of the women’s team is awesome. They make me so proud. I won’t repeat myself but instead point to this part of my 2019 season review:


Port Melbourne top of the ladder and over 300% – oh you Richmond nuffies!

We are one out of the six, by a few percent. Our opponent next week, the Dawks, are right behind us, having had the bonus of facing Darebin today.

Fark Carlton are on the bottom and under 30% :grinning:

1 Like

Where are we at with an AFLW license?

Was watching it over the weekend and they put up a 14 team ladder and it just looked wrong without us on it somewhere.

Ugle Theodore DeMatteo Clifford Nanscawen Quigley Davies Davies Davies AshleyCooper Marianna Anthony Cornish Barba Hosking Hosking Hosking Nicolaou Nicolaou Nicolaou Caruso Tamsin Tamsin Crook Crook Tamsin Crook Tamsin Crook Tamsin Crook Tamsin Federica Frew Federica Frew Federica Frew Heil Kendra Heil Julian CBomb Morcom Morcom Morcom MacDonald Nattie MacDonald Prespakis Prespakis Prespakis Prespakis Stepnell Moss Moss Moss Moss Moss Terira Fry Terira Fry Terira Fry Terira Mackay Mackay Emma Mackay Emma Mackay Emma Mackay Simone Nalder Simone Nalder Simone Nalder Simone Nalder Simone Nalder Eloise Gardner Eloise Gardner Eloise Gardner Laura Cocomello Cocomello Cocomello Cocomello Finning Finning Finning Jemma Finning Jemma Finning Jemma Finning Jemma finning Elizabeth Snell Elizabeth Snell Elizabeth Snell Elizabeth Snell Elizabeth Snell Dicker Dicker Dicker Dicker Grace Dicker Grace Dicker Grace Dicker Grace dicker Elarmaly Elarmaly Elarmaly Elarmaly Yassir Yassir Yassir Yassir Meyers Meyers Meyers Meyers Meyers Friswell Friswell Friswell Friswell Lennox Lennox Lennox Crowley Crowley Crowley Crowley Gillard Gillard Gillard Gillard

Just teaching the phone the team. A few names that are also words, so it doesn’t want to capitalise or complete them. When the hell am I ever going to use the word “dickering”?


Footscray are wearing a clash-causing jumper. At home.



EDIT: Collingwood, the away team, changed into black shorts and their black jumper in the second half, and then there was no problem.

Karma… Footscray trailed 18-21 near half-time, and then lost 18-70!

That guarantees that one or both of the winners of Ess-Haw and Nth-Casey will be in the six at the end of this round.

1 Like
1 Like

(above after AFLW draft at end of 2019)

Well, I didn’t pick 2020 being shat upon from a great height, but I was otherwise right.

I’d missed that was Nattie’s first goal ever for us last week… and a few minutes later, her second.

Natalie MacDonald in action against the Hawks on Saturday. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Inaugural Bomber Natalie MacDonald has learnt the importance of organisation, on and off the football field, balancing full-time university and part-time work with the commitments of playing VFLW.

The 22-year-old, who is in her final year of studying secondary health and physical education teaching, has regular 5am starts and 16-hour days to ensure all her work, study and training are completed.

As busy as she is, MacDonald wouldn’t change anything about her full-on lifestyle as she knows the hard work will pay off, as a teacher and a Bomber.

“The days when I’m out for 16 hours and I get home, I can’t even wind down because my brain is still go, go, go. And then the next day, it just starts all over again,” MacDonald said.

“It does definitely take its toll but it’s just what we have to do. If this is the path you want to take, you just have to suck it up and I wouldn’t change it all, but I wish there was an extra day in the week.”

During high school, MacDonald had a full schedule playing representative basketball and competing in the Basketball Victoria’s ‘Big V’ league. In 2017, she decided to make the switch to footy to focus more on her studies.

“I was playing ‘rep’ (representative basketball) and Big V, and in year 11 it was becoming too much. I was quite anxious, and it wasn’t enjoyable,” MacDonald said.

“Mum was like, ‘maybe it’s time you stopped basketball and focus on something else, especially going into year 12’ because it was interrupting everyday life, so I took up footy.”

After joining Marcellin Old Collegians Football Club’s inaugural women’s team, MacDonald quickly progressed with her football. In her first year of playing, she was selected for the Victorian Amateur Football League’s ‘Big V’ representative side, where she caught the attention of Essendon’s coaches.

Since becoming a Bomber in 2018, MacDonald has seen growth and improvement across the club; what she believes is a result of having a core group of people involved from the beginning.

“If you look at the girls from second year to third year to this year, we’re basically the same list which is just crazy. It is just so much nicer going from year to year knowing who you’re playing with,” MacDonald said.

“From the girls who have come in, I think we have had maybe five, they just fit in so well which is really nice. Major (Brendan Major) is really big on not letting just anyone into the club, doesn’t matter who they are, how many goals they kick or disposals they get, if they’re not Essendon by culture, then it doesn’t matter, he won’t take them.”

The establishment of the Essendon culture within the VFLW program has set the club up for an exciting season and future.

MacDonald, who was best on ground in the round three win over Hawthorn, is seeing the years of hard work starting to pay off, not just individually but as a team.

Natalie MacDonald in her best-on-ground performance against the Hawks. (Photo: AFL Photos)

“Everyone’s so excited. We have just come off that win against Hawthorn where everyone played well and our structures were in form,” MacDonald said.

“All our hard work, over not just the pre-season but all of 2020 is finally being put into action.”

MacDonald knows she performs well when she’s having fun, something her teammates can also relate to.

This shared feeling has led to the creation of the team’s hashtag #EnjoyTheRide, emphasising the team’s drive to enjoy playing football.

Natalie MacDonald, pictured with Federica Frew, has praised the VFLW Bombers’ culture. (Photo: AFL Photos)

“I just want to be happy for the rest of the season and just enjoy it, and I enjoy footy when I’m having fun,” MacDonald said.

“A lot of the coaches push that we should just be happy and that is why we have our hashtag ‘enjoy the ride’, because at the end of the day that’s what we are here for.”

MacDonald hopes to continue her impressive form into round four and extend the Bombers’ winning streak to three games when they take on Darebin at the NEC Hangar on Sunday at 10:30am.

1 Like

Footscray are cooked. Beaten 22-38 by Willy at home today after being crushed by the Pies last week.

In other matches, we have the benefit this week of 1 vs 4 and 3 vs 6, giving us a good opportunity to consolidate our position in the top bracket.

The famed Tulla Grass might get wet overnight, but it looks we’ll get another unusually very pleasant day… and we need to boost our percentage at Darebin’s expense.

Great article on three of our five leaders below.

Our leadership across the ground is really obvious this year: captain and vice-captain in the middle, the loud Clifford up forward, veteran Heil and 20yo Ashley-Cooper down back.

Nanscawen and Ugle overtly lead by example – hard AF at the ball. Ugle may have been “downgraded” since 2019 but she is not coasting as vice-captain. She will defend anyone against anything, she low-fives everyone onto the ground, we know her leadership record out of footy too.

Personalities within the playing group of a top level football club are varied. Some are loud and bombastic, while others leave all the talking on field.

This is even further emphasised within a VFLW team, where women from all different levels and pathways come together in an attempt to find cohesion, both on game day and behind the scenes.

Georgia Nanscawen has come from an interesting background of her own.

The gold medal winning Hockeyroo only played her first game of professional Aussie rules in 2019, debuting for North Melbourne in the AFLW before winning the Essendon VFLW best and fairest in the same year.

Now, in just the third year of her footy career, she’s the captain of the Dons.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum , Nanscawen is the first to admit that she’s never been the loudest player on field.

“I’m very much a lead by example type,” she said.

“Certainly not the loudest person in the team or the one that will talk the most, but I hope that it will be quality over quantity, and when I do speak people will listen because they feel that it’s valuable.

“I pride myself more on my actions and my professionalism in how I prepare and my attitude to training and my work ethic, those sort of things.”

Nanscawen has never held a leadership position in a footy team before, making her elevation to the captaincy even more of an honour for her.

While the players at Essendon were required to self-nominate for the leadership group voting, she still didn’t expect to be given the captaincy over her fellow teammates.

“It was still a surprise when it happened,” she said.

“We had to present to the group a 90-second spiel about our leadership style and strengths. The fact that I put myself in that position to be voted into a leadership role makes you prepare for it in some way.

“Honestly, I would have loved to be in the leadership team. To be voted in as captain by your peers is incredibly humbling and very special.

“I don’t think my behaviour will change too much from what I’ve been doing for the last couple of months. I like to think that I led throughout training with my actions before the title. It’s always nice to be thought of like that by your peers.”

While Nanscawen is new to the role, she’ll have plenty of support around her.

In the vice-captaincy position is 24 year-old Courtney Ugle, who joined the Bombers in 2018 and served as captain in 2019.

Nanscawen says she’ll be looking to the experienced Ugle and the rest of the leadership group in the 2021 season.

“I’m going to lean on Courtney and the other girls in the leadership group quite a lot during the year, being new to that leadership role,” she said.

“For most of the other girls, having had that leadership experience in previous years, it’s going to be really important that we work closely together.

“I’m a quieter person, I’m probably not going to be quite as vocal which is where the other girls step up and they create a fantastic energy. Uges has been in that captaincy position as well, so she knows what it’s all about, so I’m going to be getting a bit of advice from her going forward.

“The energy that they bring, the knowledge of football, the communication is all incredibly important for us. I think that we’ll work really well together because we do have a range of different leadership styles. That should hopefully cover most of the personality types in the group and hopefully that means we’ll work really well together.”

In terms of her individual development as an athlete that’s still new to footy, Nanscawen is hoping to continue her growth as a player through her new leadership position.

However, not changing too much about what’s already worked for her is something she also values.

“A big thing from me going into my first season at Essendon was that I wanted to relax a bit more and take the pressure off myself,” she said.

“I think that was something that always being in that elite hockey environment, I always put so much pressure on myself. I never played my best when that was placed on me.

“A real focus at Essendon was just to enjoy myself, to love playing sport again and I think that’s why I had quite a good season [in 2019]. I want to continue that.

“The fact that I now have the title of ‘captain’ I don’t think should change much about how I go about things. Of course there’s added responsibility and commitments, but in general my behaviours aren’t going to change.

“The feeling I get at Essendon is that no one’s bigger than anyone else. I really feel like we all respect each other, and there’s no hierarchy in the team. Everyone’s valued as much as everybody else, and that’s what I really love at Essendon.”

Not a step down, but a step sideways

Vice-captain Courtney Ugle was one of the lucky few women’s footballers who was able to continue playing footy in 2020, due to a lucky opportunity in Queensland playing for the Coolangatta Bluebirds in the QAFLW.

Suffering from a bad leg break halfway through the 2019 VFLW season, Ugle nearly faced the prospect of missing over 18 months due the cancellation of the 2020 season.

Being based in Queensland was the perfect rejuvenation for Ugle’s career.

“I had the best time of my life,” she said.

“To come back and play my first game after breaking my leg in 2019, to have a run around on the ground, there was no better feeling. My feet were on fire at the end of game!”

What was meant to be a quick trip up to the sunny Queensland coast ended up in a total lifestyle change.

“The original plan was for me to go for six weeks and I stayed for five months,” Ugle said.

“I loved it. But I was also being very cautious and very sensitive to the fact that a lot of females around Australia weren’t able to play any footy. I was very mindful of that, but I had an opportunity that came up and I ran with it.

“I was very fortunate to get a season under my belt and play some good footy and play in a grand final. I consider myself really lucky, but when opportunities come up like that, you can’t say no.”

While Ugle wasn’t voted back into the captaincy role she’s held since 2019, she’s still embracing her responsibility as an experienced leader within the group.

“Funnily enough I’ve never been vice-captain before!,” she said.

“Always really keen to take on new opportunities and learn and grow over time. Regardless of the title next to my name, I am who I am and I probably am quite a natural leader.

“Really looking forward to getting the season going and supporting Georgia and our leadership group in any way that I can.

“It’s really quite evident that [Georgia] is really professional and elite in the way she goes about her business, on and off field. She’s the first to admit she’s not the most vocal person but she really drives the standards, especially when it comes to that elite professionalism.

“With me being quite loud and her not being as much, that’s where we can really balance each other out. If you want someone that provides that elite style and standard of footy, Georgia’s your girl.”

Being given the captaincy at only 22, Ugle has developed as a leader extremely quickly.

However, she believes that part of understanding what it means to be a leader is also understanding that a title doesn’t make you who are.

“I’m on an equal playing field with the girls,” Ugle said.

“I’m quite lucky I’ve got some kilometres in my legs and a season under my belt. Everyone returned in really great condition. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to be coming back to, given all the restrictions still in Melbourne around that time, but we’re looking really great.

“The one thing that I’m reinforcing to the group as a whole is to back ourselves, we’re all here because we can play footy. It’s old school now, everyone knows we missed a year of footy, there’s nothing we can do about that, but we can control our attitudes moving forward coming into our 2021 season.

“It’s not my job to tell the girls how to be, but to encourage them to back themselves and believe that they are great footballers because they all are.”

More than anything though, Ugle has a passionate love for the Bombers, unmatched by even the most diehard supporters.

“Might be a bit biased, but we’re pretty great, just on how we do things,” she said.

“We want to be better as a team and individually, and we also want to be a pathway for young girls to come to and help get to that next level.

“That speaks volumes of us as leaders and our staff that are really driving the mentality, the morale and the attitude at Essendon. Of course we want that on field success as well, but I just want everyone to play good footy and love being at Essendon.

“Essendon’s where I belong, and I really can’t wait to put the jumper back on.”

The new kid at heart on the block

“I can be quite loud and also be immature and a jokester. You’d think I’d be 34 and mature,” Mia-Rae Clifford admitted with a grin.

The former AFLW Demon, Cat and Docker is now a Bomber, only having signed on in December of 2020, but has found herself voted straight into the leadership group.

Alongside rising star Eloise Ashley-Cooper and best and fairest runner-up Kendra Heil, Clifford rounds out the leadership group for the Bombers’ 2021 VFLW campaign.

“There’s not really a word to describe it, it’s quite an honour,” Clifford said.

“I didn’t expect, coming into a new club that would be a role I’d want to do, but once I got there it was exciting with all the young players and new players to the game and some old friends I’d played against as well.

“Footy’s given a lot to me, so I want to give back to footy. It evolved from that. I’m still learning myself, so it was a massive honour that my teammates would look to me as a leader and I’m happy to do that.”

Mia-Rae Clifford (L) training with her new teammates. Photo: Essendon FC

Clifford has experienced more than her fair share of highs and lows throughout her career, being delisted by three AFLW clubs despite strong individual performances.

She was both the Cats leading goalkicker in the VFLW and AFLW in 2019, with 15 and six majors respectively.

“It turned out it wasn’t enough,” Clifford said.

“Hearing you played your best footy but didn’t fit into their future plans was pretty rough to hear. I couldn’t see past that anger for a while. I thought, well, every club is different and unfortunately, even though I love Geelong to bits, I didn’t fit into their plans.

“You’ve got to take the good with the bad, even when it’s hard at the time. I’ve built that mental resilience and I think I can get through anything footy throws at me now. I try to find the bigger picture in the bad stuff that has come my way in footy.”

While coming into any new club comes with challenges, Clifford believes her AFLW experience will hold her in good stead.

A key part of that experience is being able to pass what she’s learned on to the stars of the future.

“Becoming a leader at a new club, I’m still going to have to battle some things, footy can throw you all sorts of curveballs, but I feel a lot stronger with my mind and body to be able to deal with those,” Clifford said.

“Then also, be there for others who have been through all sorts of similar things or are going through similar things because I’ll be able to relate.

“Not everyone’s going to have a golden pathway in footy unfortunately, some kids will have to do it the hard way and some will get an easier pathway. Getting there for any of them, I look to be able to do whatever I can for my teammates.”

Clifford hasn’t known her new teammates, or her new captain, for very long. Despite this, she can already see what Nanscawen brings to the group as a leader.

“At the club so far, she leads by example,” Clifford said.

“You can see what she does and her work rate. Going from an Olympic background, she has that professionalism in training, she sets the standards at training.

“We have a really good mixture in our leadership group. We have those really hard workers who set the standards but we’ve also got a mixture with me and Uges who bring the fun side of it. You need to have both otherwise footy can become quite draining.

“They’ve done that really well, the girls themselves voting in a wide variety of different leaders in the group. If you have everyone pretty hardcore and focused you miss the fun side of footy, which is why we all play.”

Having moved around to many different clubs at the highest level, Clifford has found it hard to call anywhere home since leaving the St. Kilda Sharks at the end of 2017.

Luckily for her and her family, there’s already a connection with the Bombers.

“My mum was super stoked that she no longer has to buy a guernsey, she’s a Bombers girl,” she said.

“Before AFLW was introduced, I found myself to be a very loyal footballer. I was at the Sharks for 10 years, and I thought that was where I’d finish my career before AFLW came around.

“Then I thought Geelong would be the place where I’d finish up, but things change.

“The footy world is changing so quickly that it was a bit disheartening to feel like I didn’t have a home, especially when I went to Freo, knowing I was Victorian and my partner was back here in Melbourne.

“I was coming home, but I had no footy family.

“I’d already got the feeling from Courtney and everyone, they spoke so highly about the club and I know Uges loves footy as well. For her to put in the amount of effort she does at Essendon, it made me feel like I would feel the same way.

“Being around the girls, sometimes it can be quite confronting going to a new club no matter who you are or where you’ve come from. I didn’t feel any of that.

“As soon as I walked in and through my first training, it was during COVID so we only did it in groups of 10, I was so nervous but the girls were so open and loving. They just wanted to kick a footy, it was really cool.

“As soon as that happened, I knew that this would be where I’d love to finish my career, whether it would be at VFL or AFL level, I won’t be going be anywhere after this.”

1 Like

With two rounds to go (with three weeks of national championships wedged in between those rounds) the Calder Cannon girls are at the back-end of a percentage logjam to reach the final four.

We play teams slightly below us who can’t make it, but the percentage gap is big enough that we need to rely on some teams above us losing. We are particularly relying on the Knights (5th) versus Tassie (2nd) and the Stingrays (4th). If we win our two games, then all we need is the Knights to win one or both of those games.

(It’s not clear to me if Geelong has gotten round to playing their game against the Bushrangers from lockdown-affected round two. However, they play us and top-of-the-ladder Oakleigh so even if they are also a 4-2 team they’re not the main threat.)

tl;dr: I don’t know if we might get access to our Cannon-listed girls early if they don’t make finals…

All four of the Cannon girls named in Draft Central’s league team of the week are on our main list: Gillard and Yassir are on the HF line, Prespakis in the middle and named as captain, and Friswell on the bench.

(Note: they cheated a bit this week and named both country and city teams, given a bunch of interstaters got a warm-up match in advance of the National U19 championships.)

Snell, who is with the Bendigo Pioneers, on our main list, and has already played for us, also got named in the midfield for the Country team.