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

The Adelaide Crows cemented their spot in Australian sporting history, all the while dealing with the isolation that comes from a sporting bubble.

After winning their third AFLW premiership, the Adelaide Crows cemented their spot in Australian sporting history. But it wasn’t always easy, spending time away from family and the isolation that comes from a sporting bubble.

Fronting the media before the premiership celebrations took place with fans, Ebony Marinoff says that the ‘pinch-yourself’ moments this year were worth the grind during a tough season in the AFLW.

She also describes the feeling of ecstasy and pride that was also felt for the seven players who featured in all three flags: Erin Phillips, Ebony Marinoff, Chelsea Randall, Stevie-Lee Thompson, Justine Mules, Anne Hatchard and Sarah Allan.

“We are just embracing it, you know Chelsea Randall and Erin Phillips are just, they are the ones that have been there for the three and when we’ve been having these conversations after, it’s just like we did it,”

“This season with everything with COVID and you were isolated away from your life and sort of your coming into work at the footy club and training hard and wanting to grind away to hold up the cup,”

“Yeah it’s been amazing obviously, yeah you pinch yourself and you don’t really realise in the moment what you have just achieved, I think you know we keep just spending time together, cherish these moments and enjoy the last couple of days.”

“Yeah everyone went pretty hard, we’ve been in a bubble for the last four to five months so I think everyone just enjoyed being out and being free and let their hair down and had a good time, we can be around people, we haven’t been around people, like different people apart from our families or teammates so it was almost a bit of a weird feeling being around so many people.”

“It is pinch yourself stuff, I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of such a club and now we can talk about it, being a sustained, successful club with the three premierships, yeah it’s just an amazing achievement… when we won two that was pretty incredible but winning the third is something special for us, for the seven of us that have been able to hold up that cup three times now.”

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“We were incredibly disappointed with last year and this year we’ve been so driven and it’s the leaders that have driven that but it’s been the younger ones that have stepped up and paved the way for that next generation of girls, they are just coming into our team and impacting our game on game day.”

Marinoff credits much of the improvement from being Grand Finalists to winners of the 2022 premiership winners to their youth.

The young players that came into the team with great impact this year have been Ashleigh Woodland, Teah Charlton, Montana McKinnon and Chelsea Biddell.

After being delisted by Melbourne a few seasons ago, Woodland has come back to South Australia to hone her craft in the SANFLW. She showed great signs last season but elevated herself to the next level with a Leading Goal Kicker Award for the league this season.

Her best games included four goal hauls against the Brisbane Lions and the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos. She also kicked more than two goals on eight occasions.

Charlton has now played 22 games across her two seasons at the Crows with her football developing as she becomes a staple in the side. She averaged 12 disposals this season which is considerably more than her 9 averaged last season.

Her best performance earned her a Rising Star nomination in round eight against the Fremantle Dockers. She had 18 disposals, two marks, three tackles in the game.

A dominant force as a ruck resting forward was Montana McKinnon. Playing two games in 2020 and then not playing again until round one this season, she has bought her time behind Rhiannon Metcalfe, Caitlin Gould and Jess Foley.

A feature of her game has been her strong intercept marking and aerial presence. She has averaged three marks a game and seven disposals.

Biddell has been a revelation as a tall defender this season. Prior to this season, she was averaging six disposals as a forward with only four goals in 10 games across two seasons. She has become a key cog in the Crows’ defence with a 77% disposal efficiency and averaged two marks a game in the twelve games she played this season.

Winning their third premiership at Adelaide Oval in front of 17,000 supporters, Marinoff says that the Crows’ faithful helped to create an environment which created a hostile atmosphere.

“I think we couldn’t really hear ourselves in the warmup and we said girls we are probably going to have to be loud today because we can’t hear each other but I think you saw that with Caitlin Gould kick across goal and Alyssa Bannon but she couldn’t hear anything,”

“We told her to kick down the line, those little things, you know it was in a hostile environment like the Adelaide Oval, it’s incredible that we had so many fans there and they’ve been a bit hesitant to get out and about with COVID but we are pretty happy with it and the support with have”

She also thanked the Crows supporters for their continued support of the AFLW team and women’s football, especially in a year where they could not be as close to fans as previous years.

“Just keep coming with us, you know we can’t be here without the support, the support means a lot we have so many people behind us,”

“They fly around the countryside to come and watch us play and it means so much to us as such a tight knit group and so are our staff with us but you can never fault their support behind us and they continue to come to games,”

“We do win so it’s a bit easier but even when we don’t win they get behind us and we’ve had not the best season in 2020 and they stuck with us,”

“There are some great photos from the weekend with us girls with the supporters behind us, so it’s just incredible.”

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