15/04/2024

The Adelaide Crows AFLW team enjoy the premiership celebrations flanked by fans (Picture: Madeline Irwin)

After the AFLW grand final, Chelsea Randall joined her teammates in thanking family and friends for their part in the dynasty-making year.

Fronting the media the morning after their grand final win, Chelsea Randall joined her teammates in thanking family and friends for the part they played in their dynasty making grand final win.

Splashed all over social media after the momentous win was the celebrations within the Crows’ inner sanctum. The players were featured in the middle of the circle, a ring around them with former players and staff and all surrounded by a circle with family and friends all belting out the team song in unison.

“Everyone has sacrificed so much, family dinners, work, and everything with this COVID bubble, as have our whole community but we were rewarded with what is the ultimate prize and I could not be happier for them,” Randall said.

“I think I just had a moment where I looked around at everyone in the room, in the change room and it was really a highlight of the rest of the night, just seeing our friends and families, they have also been making sacrifices for their daughters or sisters so that they don’t catch COVID or be a close contact.

“So just to have everyone in the same room and happy and smiling, that’s what it’s all about, we sang the song with the players in the middle, we had all our coaches and support staff around us and then we had all our families in the larger circle around us and we all just sung the song together and that was pretty special.”

When asked about the dynasty that had been created with premierships in 2017, 2019, and 2022, Randall said she was still processing the fact that her side had now become an indisputable force in not only the young AFLW competition but Australian women’s sport.

“Dynasty, yeah it’s, I don’t know it’s, honestly I’m struggling to string a sentence together at the moment, it’s just, it’s just surreal at this stage,” she said.

“I really went into this season just wanting our teammates to feel that success because some of our girls have never felt that, obviously after the loss against Brisbane last year, you saw how much that really meant to each and every single individual, all the work we put in over pre-season,”

The Adelaide Crows’ 2019 AFLW Premiership side. Picture: afc.com.au

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The celebrations were earned after the massive performance to shake off the Melbourne Demons who were off the boil before getting back into the game in the second quarter. The Adelaide Crows ran out winners, 4.5 29 to 2.4 16.

Randall was still understandably in shock at being a three-time premiership player, captaining her side to all three wins.

”It’s just, I mean the word I use is unbelievable, I just never believed that this was ever possible, as an 11-year-old girl, to play in her first game of footy and this is where my journey has led to and I’m just really proud.” she said.

She also agreed with most people in saying that this year in particular was possibly the most challenging year for the team to win the premiership.

“It’s definitely been a challenging year, I guess out of the last couple of years, it was just something that the girls embraced and we just wanted to be the best version of ourselves and be the best we could be for our team and they did that really well.”

Chelsea Randall on the training track preparing for the 2022 AFLW season. (Photo: Adelaide FC)

Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard have become the premier one-two punch of the league as far as midfield duos are concerned. Both in their early twenties, it’s hoped that there is much more footy ahead of the two dynamic mids.

Hatchard, in particular, has gone from strength to strength within the competition, averaging 6-7 disposals in 2017 and 2018 with her stature in the game growing year on year.

This season she was the runner-up in the league’s best and fairest by a solitary vote and was the Adelaide Crows’ Club Champion for the second time. She had also previously won the award in 2020. Hatchard was also judged best on ground in the Grand Final and won the Club’s Player Player award alongside Sarah Allan.

“You know the mids, Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard, they were just exceptional and we just tried to bring the pressure. I just can’t believe we’ve won three premierships,” she said.

“Anne Hatchard, she’s just had an incredible transformation over the years, she really just flicked the switch and just said ‘oh I can get better’ and she certainly did that and she’s just shown the competition just how good she can be,”

“She came runner up in the B and F, for overall the competition and winning best on ground, she’s still so young and she’s got a massive career ahead of her and Ebony Marinoff and a lot of the young ones around, even Eloise Jones and she’s been an absolute stand out for us this year.”

A young Anne Hatchard. Picture: afc.com.au

The best defensive line in the competition shut out the best forward line when it mattered with strong performances. Sarah Allan and Chelsea Randall were key to shutting down Tayla Harris as well as Eloise Jones, Chelsea Biddell, Marijana Rajcic, and Nikki Gore chipping in with great performances as a defensive unit.

“Our defensive line was incredible and Sarah Allan, (Chelsea) Biddell, and even MJ (Marijana Rajcic), everyone that went back there, our mids backed and supported us, they are just amazing so I guess we are really proud of our team defence and that’s what we have had for the last couple of years.”

Sarah Allan completed a stellar year after winning the Player’s Player Award at the Club Champion Awards as well as the Best Defensive Player Award.

Sarah Allan in action against North Melbourne

Captaining the Crows to their first-ever premiership, Randall spoke fondly of her relationship with Erin Phillips and how they have managed to create the winning culture at the Crows.

“I spoke to her this morning, both of us had massive smiles on our faces with what we’ve been able to achieve,” she said.

“Erin’s just a phenomenal player, she’s the yin to my yang and we compliment each other, she’s one of my best mates and what she’s done for this game is just extraordinary and we just love her to bits so we are just going to keep enjoying our grand final win together and see what unfolds.”

Erin Phillips in action. (Picture: Adelaide FC)

When she was asked about expansion, Randall was optimistic about how expansion would ensure a better outcome for the AFLW, women’s football, and the Crows.

“The competition is expanding, that’s exciting, we’ve got the full 18 AFL clubs that are going to be part of this competition now, how good’s that going to be when we have the first-ever Showdown!”

“It’s amazing for South Australia here, I’m sure they will support it, it’s just awesome to see that the comp is expanding in that way, it will give us more talented footballers in Australia and across the country.”

“It’s certainly going to come up on us quick, I guess it’s nothing really different it’s just, I’m sure it will be a great timeslot, it’s just for people to be able to view and free air-time for us, yeah but if that is confirmed then, we will just do as we are told.”

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