Footy's Father Daughters
Established during the late 1940s, the father-son rule is a rule that allows clubs the preferential opportunity to select the sons of players who have made a strong contribution to their club. This rule has seen some great players pass the torch onto their sons, with some even now reaching into the third generation. Some of these surnames have since become synonymous with their club and football as a whole. Think; Ablett and Geelong, Silvagni and Carlton, Watson and Essendon, and Liberatore and Footscray.
Now in its fifth season, the Australian Football League Women’s competition is beginning to see the emergence of several father-daughter players, of whom some bare the surname of some of the competition’s greatest players.
Father-daughters are certainly not limited to the top level either. For example, the oldest state league competition in the country, the South Australian National Football League, only recently saw their first SANFLW father-daughter player. 142 years after the league was established, 2019 saw South Adelaide’s Emily Brockhurst become the first father-daughter player in the SANFLW, following in the footsteps of her father, Andrew Brockhurst who played 131 games and kicked 97 goals.
Since then, the SANFLW has also seen Jade Halfpenny, daughter of Warren Halfpenny (26 games for Norwood) and Shelby Smith, daughter of Greg Smith (100 games for Central District) make their debuts for their respective club.
During the five years of the AFLW's existence, there have only been six father-daughter selections so far and all have only been signed within the past couple of seasons. But that certainly does not undermine the prestige that some of these names carry for their respective club.
There is yet to be a father-daughter selection outside of Victoria. However, in an alternate history, we could have had the first father-daughter player back in 2017 if Port Adelaide had gained entry—with Greg Phillips and Erin Phillips.
Abbie McKay & Andrew McKay (Carlton)
Is there a better way to kick off this list than with the player that started it all?
Abbie McKay, daughter of 1995 Carlton premiership player, Andrew McKay, was the first player to be selected under the father-daughter rule. Going at Pick 16 during 2018 draft, Abbie joined the club that her father had played 244 games for.
Abbie was drafted to the Blues from the Sandringham Dragons, and made her AFLW debut during Round Four, 2019. After her debut season in which she played four games, she went on to impress in the 2019 VFLW season, playing twelve games and averaging 15 disposals and four clearances a match.
Andrew’s football career started across the border in Victoria’s biggest rival, South Australia. Here he played for and was drafted from the SANFL club, Glenelg. Going to the Blues with the thirteenth pick of 1992 draft, he went onto play 244 games in the navy blue and also he gained All-Australian honours on four occasions (1993, 1999, 2000 and 2001). He also received Carlton’s Best and Fairest in 2003 and was inducted into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Despite her father’s career as a back flank, Abbie has found her calling as a midfielder—and being just twenty years of age means that she still has plenty of potential.
Amy Smith & Shaun Smith (North Melbourne)
Despite only beginning her football journey in 2019, this basketball convert has already made history as North Melbourne’s first father-daughter selection.
Amy Smith, daughter of Shaun Smith, began her football career with the Aberfeldie Football Club where she was named in the 2019 EDFL Team of the Year. From here, she then donned the colours of Williamstown’s VFLW program, but this experience was short-lived with the cancellation of the VFLW’s 2020 season. Standing at 170cm and with great athleticism, she was recognised by North Melbourne and selected with Pick 55 during the 2020 NAB AFLW Draft.
As for Shane Smith, his footballing journey began with Ainslie in the Australian Capital Territory, but it was Werribee where he would be recruited from by North Melbourne. Then, from 1987 to 1992, he played 47 games for 38 goals with the Kangaroos. After a small hiatus from the AFL, during which he had a strong 1994 season with Werribee—he was subsequently signed by Melbourne where he would play his best AFL season, booting 51 goals. He would continue to play with the Demons up until 1998, finishing with 62 games and 96 goals.
During the 1995 season, the Demons played against the Brisbane Bears at the Gabba, during which Shane Smith took a massive grab over the top of teammate and Demon legend, Gary Lyon. The mark is regarded as the Mark of the Century—and we are hoping that Amy Smith can replicate a similar grab using her basketball skills.
Millie Brown & Paul Brown (Geelong)
Millie Brown made history as Geelong’s first father-daughter selection, which is made even sweeter when considering that Geelong is one of the oldest football clubs in the nation.
It is not surprising that she was picked up, considering 2019 was an outstanding year for the key defender, during which time she captained the Murray Bushrangers and co-captained Vic Country. This was further topped off as she gained U18 All-Australian honours as well.
All this equated for the young gun getting selected with Pick 11 during the 2019 NAB AFLW Draft—and she went onto make her AFLW debut in Round One, 2020. She went on to play in all six of the Cats matches during her debut season, averaging a consistent total of eight touches and two marks a match.
Millie may have got some of her defensive skills from her father, Paul Brown, whose versatility used to see him play at both ends of the ground. He played 84 games between 1990 and 1998 and booted 66 goals, of which 37 were kicked during the 1992 AFL season. Even though he predominately played defence following the 1992 season, he occasionally went forward—best shown through his seven-goal game against Fitzroy back in 1995. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to injury.
But despite the less than favourable ending, at least the Brown name can live on at Geelong—and maybe we might get to see Millie sneak forwards as well, in true Brown fashion.
Tarni Brown & Gavin Brown (Collingwood)
Calling the Eastern Ranges home, young Tarni Brown enjoyed a strong start to the 2020 NAB League Girls season, collecting a total of forty-eight disposals, nine tackles and five marks from just the two games that she played before the season was suspended.
What makes this more impressive is the fact that this was just her third year of playing football after switching from basketball. However, its safe to say that playing football is in her DNA, since her father is none other than the 254 gamer and Collingwood Hall of Famer, Gavin Brown.
While Gavin is a three-time Collingwood Best and Fairest, member of their Team of the Century, and has earned All-Australian honours on several occasions during his career which spanned from 1987 to 2000—Tarni Brown has already made history, and that is even before she has stepped onto the field. This is because she is the first father-daughter selection in Collingwood history, going with Pick 19 during the 2020 NAB AFLW Draft.
Yet she is not the only Brown that is currently at Collingwood, as she also joins her two brothers, Tyler and Callum. Considering how much Tarni managed to develop within just three years, she is only going to get better while under the guidance of an AFLW program.
Isabella Grant & Chris Grant (Western Bulldogs)
Following a strong 2019 NAB League Girls season with the Western Jets, from which she was selected into the 2019 NAB League Team of the Year—Isabella made history by becoming the Western Bulldogs first father-daughter selection.
A great player in her own right, and with Pick 47 during the 2019 AFLW Draft, she joined the same club that her father, Chris Grant, played 341 games for between 1990 and 2007.
Chris joined the Bulldogs with Pick 105, making his way from Daylesford to Footscray—but despite going so late in the draft, he certainly made his mark. During his career, he claimed the Charles Sutton medal twice (1994, 1996) and received All-Australian honours three years in a row (1997/98/99). He also captained the Bulldogs from 2000 to 2004, and in 2012, he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
A strong marking tall forward who can also play midfield, this young gun Bulldog has plenty of time to make her own mark in the blue, red, and white.
Alice Burke & Nathan Burke (St Kilda)
Despite being a soccer convert, Alice Burke joins the AFL Women’s competition as a tough defensive midfielder who is describe as “not being shy to put her body on the line”. A multiple Best and Fairest winner for her NAB League Girls side, Sandringham, and a Vic Metro representative—Alice was selected by the Saints with Pick 24 during the 2020 AFLW Draft, making history as the Saints first ever father-daughter selection.
When they say that the Burke bloodline is back at the Saints, they are certainly not kidding as her father, Nathan Burke, played 323 games for the Saints from 1987 to 2003. His time at Moorabbin includes three Trevor Baker Awards (1993, 1996, 1999), four All-Australian selections (1993, 1996, 1997, 1999) as well as a spot in both the St Kilda Hall of Fame and St Kilda’s Team of the Century.
However, there will be more than just the points up for grads during Round One this season—as her father is currently the Senior Coach of the Western Bulldogs AFLW side. Meaning that bragging rights are also up for grabs.
But with a few impressive seasons of football experience already under her belt, there is the potential that Alice can have a similar impact with Saints women’s side that her father had with the men’s side—albeit she will do it without the iconic helmet.
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