Libby Taylor - the Remarkable Rover
"My advice would be to go hard and have fun, don't worry about the skills and technicalities they come later on. Embrace the club you play for, because the girls who play alongside you will become your un-biological sisters."
Switching from one sport to another is a rather courageous decision, especially when you are already one of the territory’s best players at the sport you are switching from—yet this is a decision that is already paying off for Libby Taylor.
Remarkably, Libby was ranked as the number one U18s touch football player in the Northern Territory during 2017.
This honour would prove to be the top accolade from a 10-year long journey spent playing touch footy, time which also includes several Most Valuable Player awards and time spent representing the Northern Territory.
Yet after ten years of making a name for herself in touch football she “gave all that up to give footy a crack”.
“I sort of got peer pressured into it. One of my teammates and my coach kept pushing me to play so I finally went and played a game and loved it and have never looked back since.”
At the time, this would have seemed to be a big gamble but in just two years, half the time that she spent playing touch footy, Libby has already developed into an exciting prospect for central Australian football.
Joining the Alice Springs based Rovers Football Club and bringing her decade of touch footy experience with her; she enjoyed a dream start to her footballing journey.
She says that her “touch skills have definitely helped” and it certainly shows, as she celebrated her first ever season of playing football by claiming the 2019 Rovers Best and Fairest. Proving that this wasn’t a one off, the young gun followed up by winning the 2020 Best and fairest as well.
Winning back-to-back Best and Fairests in her first two seasons of playing footy is “crazy” to say the least.
“… I had no idea it was coming especially in my first year, felt like all the hard work had paid off though.”
Along with this outstanding feat, Libby also experienced the Rovers premiership win during 2020 which was “the first one ever for the women”.
“It was surreal. As soon as the siren went a wave of emotions hit me. After a year with a lot of struggle with Covid and so much uncertainty it almost made it sweeter.”
“It's an unbelievable feeling when a year of hard work and consistency and persistence finally pays off. It is a feeling I'll never forget.”
While Libby has already become a part of footy history in Alice Springs, it is also safe to say that the Rovers hold a special place in her heart.
“I’ve loved my time at Rovers, it's like one big family club. The men come down on a Friday night and run water or support the women when we play and then in turn the women will go down on a Saturday and run water and support the men's sides.”
“Our coach Rob Clarke is like my second dad, he cares for all of us girls like his own and is always pushing us to be better and always has time for us, whether it's personal stuff or footy stuff.”
“I don't see myself leaving this club anytime soon.”
As well as donning the colours of the Rovers, Libby has also had the chance to represent the Southern Districts in Darwin, the Northern Territory during an AFLW Draft trial match, and the Pinktails.
Representing the best of the region with the Pinktails has been another great chapter in Libby’s footballing journey—a chapter that has seen her showcase her skills as she booted five goals during the Pinktails recent trip to Flinders University Stadium in Noarlunga, South Australia.
“… Representing my region in the Pinktails side and went to Adelaide, and beat Pulteney 126 to 0” is, along with the Rovers premiership, one of her favourite footballing moments thus far.
Being a part of the Pinktails program as a whole has been a “great” experience for the promising NT product.
“I love getting the opportunity to play with girls from the four other football clubs in town, who I usually play against and get to know them and work together to do something as awesome as we did.”
“And again, we have a great leadership team who coach us, Rob Clark, Ian McAdam and Darren Talbot. It was great to train alongside girls from town for months and have something else to do in the off-season.”
Travelling to Flinders University Stadium, and kicking five of the Pinktails’ eighteen goals, this match also provided a glimpse into a possible future for Libby—one that could see her play footy south of the border.
But until the day when she’s playing footy when its “freezing”, she can at least continue to be a proud and talented example of a Northern Territory footballer.
Footy up north is unique in itself, its community-based and “it’s rough”.
“I guess it teaches you how to protect yourself and how to get up and keep going even if it's not really fair.”
“When it's finals rounds, the atmosphere and the crowds are huge for the games, it's an amazing feeling to run out to a crowd of people in your jersey and see people at your game to watch you and to even have it televised through NITV.
“Most of our games throughout the season we are lucky to get 50 people come down and watch.
“It's a unique atmosphere up here for footy, but the love for the game isn't any different to that of a woman in the AFLW.”
While footy is unique, so is the lifestyle; being born and raised in Alice Springs it has given Libby a positive perception of life in the red centre.
"I enjoy it. It's a small town and as seen on many social media outlets, the town has its problems."
"But being born here and growing up here my whole life it's like the town is a part of me. I love the people, the picturesque landscapes, the culture rich history, and the community."
"Life can be hard at times, but it teaches you to fight hard for things you want and teaches you that hard work pays off. I don't think I could ever leave this place, it holds a special place in my heart ."
But whether she is playing up north or in another state, she will continue to have some great support behind her, support that has already seen her develop into such a promising prospect after just two full years of playing.
Including, “definitely my partner Michael for supporting me to go away and play every week, my mum for being my backbone when I have a shitty game and my coach Rob Clark, he's had a massive influence over my football career and given me so many opportunities and pushed me to be better.”
“Of course, the girls around me like Kristen Remfrey, Ebony Miller, Caitlin Couch who have mentored and pushed me to play better.”
So, what is the next chapter for this exciting Pinktails’ prospect?
“That's a tricky one. I would love to back up the premiership title this year with Rovers and go and see what the level women's footy is at in different states, I wouldn't mind going to play a few games in the SANFLW.”
After a decade of playing touch footy, time with which saw her grow into one of the territory's best, her decision to switch to footy would have seemed like a gamble--but it is safe to say now that this gamble paid off.
With two fantastic years of footy under her belt she has already developed into an exciting prospect, and she has certainly built a case to be able to play interstate--but either way, she will continue to be a prime example of what the Northern Territory footy can offer.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and have been personally shot.