(Picture: AFL, Design by Will Cuckson)

Debuting back in Round One in 2018, Adelaide Crows winger Eloise Jones will notch up her 50th AFLW game this weekend. Becoming an integral player to the Crows in recent years, she reflects on her career so far.

At the start of her career Jones was taken with Pick 24 in the 2018 AFLW Draft, fast forward nearly six seasons, she is now a two-time premiership player after being apart of the 2019 and 2022 premiership sides. 

While speaking exclusively to The Inner Sanctum Jones reflected on her career to date and what playing 50 games for the Crows means to her.

“It’s pretty cool,” Jones told The Inner Sanctum

“I think if you spoke to 12-year-old me back in the day, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you if someone said I’d get to 50 games at AFLW leveI. I’m pretty chuffed to get there and definitely look forward to the weekend.”

Arriving at the Adelaide Football Club when she was just 18-years-old, Jones has grown up at the club and has loved every minute of it. 

“I think I’ve definitely grown over the last couple of years, a fair amount in all honesty. I guess I came in as a bit of a kid and they’ve kind of brought me up and [I’ve] definitely grown up a little bit, still probably a little bit to go if i’m being honest,” she explained.

“I’ve loved every moment of being in this footy club and the coaches, players and support staff have been fantastic and I’m really excited to get this 50 [game milestone] but then hopefully get another 50 [games] as well.”

For Jones, It feels like just yesterday when she got the call up from the then Crows coach Bec Goddard to make her debut against the Lions back in 2018. Friends and family came out in full force to watch her make her AFLW debut although this made it even nerve-wracking. 

“I was a stick of a child, no meat on any of my bones, [I was] super skinny. I remember coming in and [I was so] nervous, I actually remember Bec Goddard brought me into our office at Norwood Oval and said I was playing that first game and from the moment she told me to the actual game I was stressed,” Jones said.

“All of my family and friends came out and watched but I really remember that game and from then on, it sort of just kept rolling. It’s been fantastic and I’ve loved every little step that I’ve made.” 

Joining an exclusive club

Jones joins a strong group of Crows that have made the milestone including Ebony Marinoff, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Anne Hatchard. She describes the esteem of the group that she has joined and what they’ve built at the club together.

“We all sort of started at similar times, [I] played some junior footy together as well with some of the other girls and now we’ve sort of been on this journey together. To end up here all together again and then now on that 50 games is really cool. 

“Those are girls who are fantastic people and fantastic players and I’ve looked up to them my whole career and I just sort of joined them at that 50 game mark is really exciting, I’m really happy to be here.” 

The core of the Adelaide side has been together since the early seasons, with few players having defected to other sides since inception. This means young players such as Jones, Marinoff, Hatchard and Sarah Allan have come into the club and grown immensely across the journey. 

“I think a lot of us have grown up over the years as well. When we sort of came in we were the kids of the team, we’re no longer the kids anymore. So I’m probably considered one of the older ones now, which is a little bit scary,” she said.

“I’d love to be able to say that I finished my career with all those girls as well and hopefully we can all stay together and continue everything at the club and I’d be really excited to say I’d be able to finish my career with all those girls.” 

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Being a leader

Jones continues to play a key part in the Crows line-up, having been a part of the teams’ leadership group since being elevated in 2021. Jones said that being in the leadership group has allowed her to grow in all aspects of her life . 

“It’s really good, to be in a room of the likes of ‘Noffy’ (Marinoff), Stevie (Stevie-Lee Thompson), Sez (Sarah Allan) and Randy (Chelsea Randall) is incredible. 

“I think I’ve learned so much over the last couple of years [that] I’ve been involved. I don’t personally see myself as too much as a leader but I think what I can sort of take away and learn from those girls has been amazing. 

“I think as well it’s things that I can incorporate into my everyday life, at work and even just as a person as well. I continue to grow and take everything that I can off of them, they’re a great bunch of girls and it’s been really cool to be able to work with them over the last couple of years. 

“We’ve been really fortunate to have some success at the club, and that’s driven by all those girls and I’m really fortunate to be part of that group with them.” 

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The ultimate supporters

Making the trip over to Victoria to watch Jones play in her 50th game are her parents, who she said were integral to her love of the game and her journey.

“They’ve been there from the start, they were the ones that got me into footy when I was really little. I was really fortunate my parents never said no to any sport that I wanted to play and they continued to support me through footy,” Jones explained.

“The night that I got drafted I think they were probably at the moment a bit more excited than me. I don’t think I’d fully taken in what had just happened when my name got called out but I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve had their support from day dot.

“I think they ride the highs and the lows with all of us, I think sometimes they probably ride the highs a little bit more and then the lows a little bit more as well. I’m really fortunate to have them in my corner and I think it’s just them.”

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