• Jayden J Bartlett

Shelby Smith - the Legacy

'I would say back yourself in every time and do not hesitate. My dad also always told me that fitness is also a big key to football because the fitter you are the more contests you will get to and the bigger the impact you will make on the game.'


2020 is Shelby Smith’s first year of playing in the SANFL Women’s competition – but while this is just her first season with the Bulldogs, her connection with the Central District Football Club goes much deeper.

This is because Shelby is the daughter of former Central District Captain Greg Smith, who played 100 games in the blue, red and white – he also donned the colours of Collingwood and South Melbourne during the 1980s.

Shelby only began playing football back in 2017 with the Eastern Park Football Club, prior to this her sporting life mostly consisted of netball as well as competitive swimming when she was younger. So, considering she is fairly new to the sport, her father’s guidance has certainly been beneficial, no doubt thanks to his years of football experience.

‘He always tells me not to waste energy worrying about how I am going to play and just go out there and have fun. He knows how nervous I can get before I play.’

‘He will take me out to the oval and give me some tips on little things to improve my game.

‘But he is all about fitness. He thinks the fitter you are the more contests you can get to and the bigger impact you will make on a game.’

But while the surname Smith is already pretty well-known at Centrals – Shelby is quickly making a name for herself as well.

'The Legacy' - image kindly provided by Shelby (left).

As mentioned before, she began playing football back in 2017, this was because - ‘I just started training for some extra fitness and then they did not really have enough number to fill a team and I got convinced into playing by my sister and I the rest is history’.

However, she strapped on the boots rather late during the 2017 season as she was also playing netball that year. The following year in 2018 did not see Shelby play much football either because she had her beloved daughter.

This means that 2019 was just her first full season of football, but she certainly did not take long to make her presence felt – as she won Eastern Park’s Best and Fairest.

The Eastern Park Best and Fairest is far from her only sporting accolade as well, as she has won several Best and Fairest’s and awards while playing netball. But the fact that majority of her sporting life had consisted of netball prior to her putting on the footy boots, it presented her with a new challenge – which was learning a completely new sport.

‘The skill I have struggled with the most is my kicking. I am getting better, but you can definitely tell from the girls that have played for years. But I try practice my kicking every day and before trainings.

‘The other ones I have not struggled to bad with. But yes, I love a good tackle and there is no better feeling than a good old smother.’

But following her first full and dare we say successful season with Eastern Park – she was picked up by the Bulldogs for their 2020 SANFLW squad. So far, she has enjoyed being a part of the same club that her father had been for many years.

‘I have learnt so much and all the girls are awesome. The coaches go above and beyond.’

Considering she shares a special bond with the Bulldogs – it is only fitting that she has certainly been impressive while donning their colours.

As a matter of fact, Shelby had a pretty big impact during her debut game – which ‘Considering I barley slept the night before because I was so nervous I did not expect to have such an impact’.

‘Once the first bounce was done the nerves settle and It was game on. It was definitely a tough game and I learnt quickly that it was going to be a fight till the end.

‘But my competitive edge and having all the girls around me playing so well helped me to step up when I needed and play my roll.

‘As a group we aimed to be first to the ball and hunt in numbers which I think we did really well. I remember there was a fair bit of banter between the teams which I love.’

In total, her debut game saw Shelby collect an equal game high of 20 touches, as well as gather a total of five clearances and three tackles – making it one extremely strong debut.

But considering her passion for her club and her dedication for the sport, not to mention that she has bulldog blood coursing through her veins – it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that she has had this much of an impact in just her debut SANFLW season.

So, what is next for this talented and proud Bulldog?

‘My goals moving forward are just simply improving every game I play and making my dad proud. He is a bit of a club legend so if I can play anything like him I would be pretty happy.’

Considering she is already in the top ten of the league for clearances – we’re certain that she is on her own way to making some of her own history in the Bulldogs' jumper as well.

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Article #130

None of these photographs are owned by MWM, all images supplied by the player.

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