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Congratulations to the Brisbane Lions.  

Undefeated in all 6 matches against the top teams (North Melbourne, Adelaide, Geelong, and Melbourne). They are worthy winners of the 2023 AFLW premiership.  

Our ambition for a Season 8 back-to-back premiership was derailed.  

In round 6 Adelaide spilled the beans on the template to outplay us. From there news spread fast to other top teams who applied similar intense physical pressure at the source which crushed our gameplan to execute via quick hands to runners.  

We had moments of competitiveness against Adelaide and Geelong, but both the 2023 Grand finalists had our measure at the pointy end of the season.

Finishing 2023 Top 4 and exiting in straight sets was an unhappy outcome for supporters, especially given the men’s team finished the same way.  

But MFC Chair Kate Roffey reminded members that no one will be more disappointed in how we finished the year than the players themselves, they will be determined to bounce back.

For Mick Stinear, his football department, Kate Hore and the playing group, it will be back to base camp in 2024, fitter and stronger, and the introduction of some new faces to get excited about.

Meggs is optimistic. At the beginning of the season, Demons supporters were regularly posting how much they were enjoying watching women’s footy. It was true, we were playing some really entertaining and skillful football, our best footy is super exciting.  

Following are reflections on Season Eight 2023:

What went right

For any team to win a back-to-back premiership, almost everything has to go right.  


Finishing 2nd with 8 wins and a percentage of 222.9, our ‘points for’ of 653 is the highest in AFLW competition history.  

Our forward stars Eden Zanker and Kate Hore jointly shared the AFLW Goalkicking Award with a record 20 goals for the Home and Away Season.  

Edo also snagged three goals in the final against Geelong to finish with 23 for the season, another league record (equal with Brisbane’s Dakota Davidson).

One Club - McLelland Trophy Winners = $1 Million

MFC Chair Kate Roffey praised how competitive our Club’s men’s and woman’s programs are when highlighting the honour of accepting the revamped and relaunched 2023 McClelland Trophy.  

She said that while the $1 million prize money is welcomed, the real value is the recognition of the ‘extraordinary commitment it takes across the entire Club to field and support two extremely high performing teams each weekend’.

The Daisy replacement

No one was surprised about the Club’s appointment of Kate Hore as Captain of the Melbourne Football Club as she was the standout candidate.  

From the outset of her captaincy tenure our Number 10’s leadership was evident.  Her teammates see her as an inspiration on and off the field.  Kate does everything well yet appears so humble.

Statistically 2023 was her best ever year.  

She led the league for average score involvements with 6.5 a game, was an equal league-leading goalkicker and averaged 4 marks and 4 tackles per game.  

External recognition of Kate’s outstanding year came from her peers as the AFL Player’s Association’s Best Captain for 2023 and from the media for by being selected as a forward and captain of the 2023 AFLW All-Australian Team.  

Last Quarter Bandits

New AFLW rules for 2023 included 17-minute quarters and a 60 interchange-limit and these changes advantaged the Dees with our deep fleet of seasoned midfield runners able play out quarters and matches and kick higher scores.  

Our extended run of unbeaten last quarters ran from Round 4 of Season 7 until North undid us in the Qualifying final, an AFLW record of 19 games.

Some exhilarating 4th quarter footy was witnessed by the Demons faithful during the season:

Eden Zanker mesmerised the highly rated Crows defence at Casey in Round 6 and then repeated that with three last quarter goals in the losing semi-final against the Cats.  Other notable last quarter efforts include seven goals against the Giants in Round 2 and four goals against the Cats in Round 5.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Goldie and the Mackins add so much run and competitiveness and are vital cogs in our gameplan.

Blaithin had a tremendous second season, a big improver.  Goldie always rises to the challenges of big games and lifts her teammates.  Aimee looks a natural forward so injury free and with a full pre-season we have found a footballer.


Other than the aforementioned great seasons of Kate and Edo, our generational key defender Tahlia Gillard and our uber talented Vice Captain Tyla Hanks also made the All-Australian Squad.

Tahls is building an impressive CV of big-name scalps while Tyla, our most skillful playmaker, is now widely recognised for her week in, week out, football genius.

What went wrong (the excuses)

All was going swimmingly until quarter time in Round 6 against Adelaide at Casey Fields.

The Draw

Was our draw too soft?  

In six games against bottom eight teams we had a percentage of 323% whereas in the six games against the top eight teams our percentage was 96.4%.  

Why were we out of form at the wrong time of year?  Mick, this is really a question for you.

Did being the hunted, not the hunter, eventually weigh us down?  

Injuries didn’t’ help

Maddi Gay, Aimee Mackin, Tayla Harris and Paxy all missed multiple matches.  Lampy broke her wrist in Round 7, Sherriff re-injured her forearm in Round 10.  Gabby Colvin only played 2 games.

The unspoken illness that swept the team during the finals, was this truly a factor?

List composition and game plan

Improvement by other teams relative to us? Yes, definitely.

Exposed at the source by stronger and more willing bodies.  

North laid 104 tackles (Dees 80) in the final and Brisbane 81 (Dees 57) in Round 10.  Brisbane dominated uncontested possessions 133:75 and marks 51:27.  

Adelaide dominated us for two quarters in Round 6 but we were able to fight back but not so against Brisbane or North.  In the Geelong final it was all going the wrong way until a last quarter hurrah.

All four teams exposed not only our lack of midfield physicality but our leg speed and depth in defence.  By not being able to exit the contest skilfully we coughed up the footy and back it came.

Being 2022 reigning premiers, we already have an excellent core playing group, but all successful teams must renew and refresh their list.  Premiers Brisbane lost Bates, Bodey and Wardlaw in 2022.

Our shopping list should include some bigger bodies for the midfield and a strong key defender.  

All new recruits must be runners and competitors who come with established core footy skills.

Do we know whether Casey girl Claudia Whitford would consider rejoining the Dees?  She has starred for Gold Coast this year.  

Player movements

The Trade Period opens on Thursday 7 December 2023 and closes 14 December.  

AFLW is reporting that Casey Sherriff, Libby Birch, and Eliza West may be off the Hawthorn. Gold Coast are apparently chasing Charlotte Wilson.  

We have another Father-Daughter selection in young speedster Jemma Rigoni which is exciting.

In other news Georgina ‘Chook’ Fowler has retired from football and leaves the Dees without making her debut.

The Draft is being held on Monday 18 December 2023.


Meggs speculates that some end-of-season player reviews will be interesting.

Fitzy, the ultra-skilled pressure forward, failed to kick a goal in her 8 games this season.  

She did have a career-high 15 disposals in the qualifying final against North and a career-high 10 tackles against Fremantle in Round 9.  

Could Fitzy play on the ball where she has done well in VFLW or even a defensive role?  You want the ball in her hands because she has good skills and makes good decisions.

Her housemate, the highly talented Alyssa Bannan, had some fine moments in 2023 including a 5-goal haul against the lowly West Coast Eagles.  

However, Alyssa was unable to consistently assert herself in the 6 key matches against the Top 4 teams, kicking just the one goal.

Maybe play her on the wing?  Getting fitter and stronger must be a focus for Banno in 2024.

Best and Fairest

In the AFLW Best and Fairest, Demons scored 46 votes.

Kate Hore and Tyla Hanks earned 12 votes, Eden Zanker and Paxy Paxman 6., Alyssa Bannan 5, Eliza West and Lauren Pearce 2, and Liv Purcell 1.

The Demons Best and Fairest is being held 9 December 2023.  

Meggs is tipping Tyla Hanks to win her second best and fairest.  She has been our inspirational playmaker all year.  Last year’s winner Kate Hore has been superb and might be thereabouts too.

Melbourne FC has written a piece on some of the top-performing Demons of the season here:

Tahlia Gillard   

In just her third season at the top level, Tahlia Gillard has broken into the league as an upcoming star of the defensive 50. She’s improved with each week at the contest and on the rebound.

The 19-year-old has managed to shut down some of the best forwards in the league, averaging 5.6 intercepts and 5.2 spoils, with her consistency earning her an inaugural selection in the All-Australian squad. 

Tyla Hanks   

As vice-captain, Tyla Hanks’ impressive performances were a constant for the team in 2023, using her footy smarts, natural talent and silky skills to cement herself as one of the competition’s best midfielders.

Statistically, she continued to reach new milestones, averaging a career-high 21.7 disposals, 5.6 clearances, 4.4 score involvements and 3.7 inside 50s. The midfielder finished the season with 12 votes in the league best and fairest count, an equal club-high. 

Shelley Heath  

She might fly under the radar externally, but Shelley Heath is a highly celebrated Demon at the club for her versatility, strength and determination.

Often tasked with locking down the opposition’s most influential players, this year has seen her talent showcased across both the backline and midfield, while also impacting in front of goals, kicking two during Round 1.   

Kate Hore   

This season has seen Kate Hore take on the new title of captain, embracing the responsibility and allowing it to push her game to another level.

The crafty forward became the second player in league history to kick 20 goals in a home-and-season, earning her the title of leading goal-kicker alongside Eden Zanker. She also led the league for average score involvements with 6.5 a game.   

Most recently, she became a three-time All-Australian forward and received the honour of All-Australian captain to go alongside her AFL Players' Association's Best Captain title. 

Blaithin Mackin   

In just her second season at the club, Blaithin Mackin has further adapted into the sport, having only come across from Gaelic football last year.

The speedy winger has been persistent in her develop of the AFL craft, her natural agility and creative skill an asset to the side. Her best performance came in Round 8 where she registered 21 disposals, six marks and four tackles.  

Lily Mithen  

A stalwart for the Demon line-up since the inaugural season, Lily Mithen has continued to be a pillar of strength for the team in 2023.

The energetic and determined utility was impressive in the contest, her versatility an important quality for the side during integral games throughout the season. She averaged 16.6 disposals and kicked a career-high total of four goals.   

Lauren Pearce

No one does it quite like Lauren Pearce and in 2023 she continued her talented ways in the red and blue. Known for her impressive ruck craft, with the ability to follow up at ground-level, Pearce averaged 18.5 hitouts and 3.2 clearances a game, often seen changing the momentum of a game with a single tap.

Despite missing one match in the middle of the season, Pearce’s impact across the year will no doubt put her in good stead for this year’s top honour. 

Olivia Purcell  

A fiery midfielder who consistently steps up under pressure is Olivia Purcell, whose 2023 has been another testament to her talent.

The bullish Demon is as competitive as they come, attacking the contest with an unmatched will to win. This season has seen her average 21.9 disposals, 4.5 tackles, 4.2 clearances and a career-high 4.6 score involvements.   

Eden Zanker   

Experienced Demon Eden Zanker produced a career-best campaign in 2023. The tall forward came into the season with perfected forward craft and a strength in the aerial contest, averaging close to four marks a game.

She wrote herself into the history books as the first AFLW player to kick 20 goals in a home-and-away season and was named the league’s leading goal-kicker alongside Kate Hore.  She topped off her year with an inaugural All-Australian selection. 

Thank you readers

Well, that’s all for Season Eight.

It has been a pleasure writing about this wonderful team so thank you for reading.

Meggs wishes you all the best for the festive season.



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