Brianna Davey knows all about Collingwood’s struggles in the AFLW last season. The former Carlton captain knows all about fighting from the bottom to the top, too. That’s why her new ’Pies gig has her so pumped for 2020.
Brianna Davey knows all about Collingwood’s struggles in the AFLW last season. That’s why her new ‘Pies gig has her so pumped for 2020.
Over the past three years the name Brianna Davey had become synonymous with the Carlton Football Club. The 24-year-old was one of the Blues’ marquee players for the inaugural season; she’d spent the past two seasons captaining the club and her efforts this year helped lift Carlton from cellar-dwellers to grand-finalists.
Almost needless to say it surprised many when, just days after winning her second club best and fairest award, Davey asked to be traded to arch-rivals Collingwood. It was a request that shocked the AFLW world and raised a plethora of questions.
Why would Carlton’s captain want to leave just as the team was becoming successful? Why would Davey want to move to the Magpies, who finished on the bottom of the ladder and currently don’t have a head coach? Is there no loyalty in women’s football?
Davey’s move to Collingwood was finalised on the final day of the trade period. Carlton, despite being initially reluctant to let their star player exit Ikon Park, eventually came to an agreement that saw the club gain numerous draft picks, including Collingwood’s prized number-two pick that would have given them access to the second-best player in metropolitan Melbourne.
And so it was that Davey became a Collingwood Magpie, adding experience and professionalism to a list filled with talent yet to reach its potential.
Call it coincidence, but since the former Matildas goal-keeper joined the club back in April the Magpies have already had success. The club’s VFLW side became premiers for the first time, defeating the Western Bulldogs by a thumping 37 points. In this match Davey had a game-high six clearances and 14 contested possessions.
Though Davey still considers herself new to the black and white, it’s obvious the mature-bodied midfielder has had a positive impact by providing leadership and support to other talented players like Jaimee Lambert and Chloe Molloy.
It’s only the beginning of Davey’s time at Collingwood, but you get the feeling she could help take the ’Pies from the bottom to the top the same way she did at Carlton.
When AFLW 4.0 begins this summer, all eyes will be watching what was arguably the biggest trade of the off-season.
THE CARLTON GIRLS, I STILL HAVE SOME OF MY BEST MATES IN THAT TEAM . I JUST FELT LIKE THEY WERE IN A BET TER POSITION THIS TIME AR OUND.
Brianna Davey is one of AFLW’s original crosscoders, having grown up kicking the round ball. She was a soccer prodigy, selected as the back-up goalkeeper for Melbourne Victory in the W-League when she was just 15 years old. From there her career went from strength to strength. She became the Victory’s number-one goalkeeper, played overseas in Sweden and represented the Matildas for three years from 2012 to 2015.
When Davey was surprisingly overlooked for the World Cup squad in 2015, the talented athlete turned her attention to AFL and joined the St Kilda Sharks in the VFLW competition. Almost overnight she became one of the best footballers in the state. She became captain of her state league club and represented Victoria, all within 18 months of switching sports.
It was unsurprising then, when the AFLW competition was announced, that a number of clubs were chasing Davey’s signature . Carlton and Collingwood were two of those clubs and both wanted Davey to be a part of their first-ever women’s team.
Davey, after weighing-up her options, decided to join the Blues and became one of their marquee players alongside forward Darcy Vescio. This was the first time Davey would say no to the Magpies. Unbeknownst to most, she denied them for a second time not long after; her management was contacted again by Collingwood at the end of the 2018 season, hoping to lure the Carlton captain’s signature for the second time.
“I was offered a marquee spot at Collingwood the first year, ” explains Davey.“And after the second season, my manager had a couple of people knocking on his door and one happened to be Collingwood.
“So technically, I’d sort of refused their offers a few times.
“I wasn’t interested.
“We didn’t have a great season at Carlton and I wanted to be there to help support the girls.For me it wasn’t really a second thought. I wasn’t interested.”
Davey’s decision to remain a Blue for the third season was rewarded as Carlton enjoyed the biggest resurgence of any club. In 2019 Carlton jumped from the bottom of the ladder to the grand final where they came up against Adelaide in front of 53,000 fans at Adelaide Oval.
With the Blues now in a good place, Davey was open to exploring her options at season’s end. “I felt more comfortable potentially looking at their [Collingwood’s] offer
and looking at the opportunity.
“The Carlton girls, I still have some of my best mates in that team. I just felt like they were in a better position this time around. If I had have left the season before, it wouldn’t have felt right to me.”
Collingwood came to Davey with an offer that appealed on multiple levels. There was the romantic notion that her leadership and experience could once again help guide a struggling team from the bottom to the top, a chance to equip herself with skills that would translate to life after football and most importantly for Davey there was an opportunity to grow as a person.
“To be honest, the main reason for me was to push myself out of my comfort zone.
“I know any time I’ve done that in my sporting career I feel it’s made me a better person and a better player.
“In saying that, I hate change; I’m the kind of person who likes to feel comfortable. So I knew it was going to be a hard thing for me because I would prefer to stay in my comfort shell and that’s what I was sort of in at Carlton.”
Davey has experienced change on a number of occasions throughout her sporting career. She moved from Melbourne Victory to Melbourne City in the W-League, she travelled overseas to play soccer in Sweden and most notably changed sports from soccer to football.
“As soon as you put yourself into a new environment, whether that’s in your work life, sporting life, whatever it is, you’re going to be working with new people.
“You almost need to harness a new set of skills in a way, because the group you’ve always worked with is not going to be the same as the group you’re going to work with.
“So for me that was part of developing personally and again that will obviously translate to playing on the field, too.
“I knew Collingwood were coming off a particularly hard season last season. They are looking to build and I like a bit of a challenge, so I’m hoping to help and be a part of that build. That’s probably part of the reason as well.”
At the same time Davey was looking to move to Holden Centre, there were two other AFLW captains also on the move to new homes. Katie Brennan (Western Bulldogs) and Leah Kaslar (Brisbane) headed to expansion clubs Richmond and the Gold Coast respectively. Comparisons were made between Davey’s decision to leave Carlton and Katie Brennan’s decision to leave the Western Bulldogs. Brennan was also a marquee signing and her club’s captain, but after three seasons at the Bulldogs she decided that a move to Punt Road would
I KNEW COLLINGWOOD WERE COMING OFF A PARTICULARLY HARD SEASON LAST SEASON. THEY'RE LOOKING TO BUILD AND I LIKE A BIT OF A CHALLENGE .”
provide her with a fresh start.
Though Davey believes she still would have made the move to Collingwood, she does concede that having another captain move teams did make her feel slightly more at ease. “To be honest, even if it [Brennan’s move] didn’t happen, I would have felt content with my decision at the time regardless. But in saying that, yeah, I mean, of course; when you’re the only one doing something, sometimes it can be a bit harder and the attention is spotlighted on you in a way.
“I think people are starting to understand though that, with the AFLW at the moment, it’s just going to be the nature of the beast.
“These girls, we’re juggling numerous things; we’re not on huge pay packets, so you know, girls are going to do at this point what’s best for them.”
The magnitude of player movement at the end of the most recent season brought some AFLW fans and commentators to question the loyalty of players within the competition. Davey agrees loyalty is important but at the end of the day believes an athlete has to do what is right for them.
“For me, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be loyalty. Absolutely, I would consider myself a very loyal person. I just think at the end of the day, if an athlete is going to make a decision, it’s their life. That’s the thing people forget about, too. We are people, we are humans and we have lives.
“It’s no different to potentially moving jobs, for example.
“You know, you’ve got one job, another job offer comes along and it’s an opportunity to make yourself better, or it’s just a better opportunity and you take it.”
About the time when Davey was weighing up the offer from Collingwood, the club itself was going through some changes of its own. Three weeks prior to Davey’s move, the club sacked its head coach Wayne Siekman after three seasons at the helm. This put Davey in the unusual position of making her decision without knowing who her new coach would be.
“It was something that was a bit of a question mark for me when I was weighing up my options. I thought, they’re without a coach right now. Depending on who it is, will it be someone that I will be able to grow under?
“Obviously, the Magpies had made a decision for whatever reason and they
believed that it was the best decision for them going forward.
“So I guess I just thought I’ll back them and trust the Collingwood Football Club to pick a coach that’s right for the job and yeah, it ended up being Steve.”
South Australian Steve Symonds joined the club as head coach at the start of June and so far Davey has been impressed. “Steve has come in and been awesome. I really love the way he goes about his business.
“I think he’s got a great balance. I believe a coach or a leader needs to have a balance. They need to be personable but at the same time be able to make hard decisions or have hard conversations and I think he’s done that really well so far.
“I guess I’ll get to see him a bit more in action with the coaching side of things as we hit pre-season.”
Davey donned the black and white stripes for the first time during the winter when she ran out with the club’s VFLW side.Collingwood’s VFLW program provided a glimpse of what is to come next AFLW season. Former All Australian and Rising Star Chloe Molloy was back to her best after missing the entire 2019 AFLW season through injury. Part-time midfielder, part-time forward Jaimee Lambert won the competition’s leading goal-kicking award with 21 goals in her 12 games. And former Australian Diamonds netballer Sharni Layton has developed into one of the best rucks in the league.
Add these improvers to already proven performers in Stacey Livingstone, Britt Bonnici, Ash Brazill and Steph Chiocci, and Collingwood’s list looks ready to match it with any opponent.
If Collingwood can continue as they have in the VFLW season, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see their premiership success translate into the upcoming season of AFLW. Davey believes the club’s form throughout the winter season has given the group confidence.“Being able to get some wins [in the VFLW] has been a really big thing for the group and I definitely felt that it’s given the girls confidence leading into an AFLW season.
“Winning sometimes becomes a bit of a skill and it’s something that, it’s like anything … if you have experience in it, you’re more likely to understand what winning is, how it feels, what you need to do to win, and that’s given the girls a bit of practice so now hopefully going into AFLW there will be a bit more confidence behind the group.
“I know how it feels from when I was at Carlton. I know how it feels to be at the bottom, but I also know it can be
flipped quite easily.
“I guess part of what I will bring to the group as well is that experience in that, and giving them the confidence to know that just because previously they’ve not had the good season, that it can flip and their next season can be their best season.”
It was that experience and leadership that saw her selected as Carlton’s captain for the past two campaigns and Collingwood coach Symonds has flagged Davey as a future leader at the Magpies.
Symonds has described Davey as a “good, quality leader”.
“She’s strong on standards, has real internal belief, which passes onto the group as well, and she’s a quality person – above all else she brings that to the group,” said Symonds at a press conference early on in the preseason.
It was no surprise then when Davey was announced as Collingwood’s vicecaptain in early December.
Davey was selected as one of the Magpies’ two vicecaptains, alongside defender Ash Brazill. Veteran midfielder Steph Chiocci will remain as the club’s captain for the fourth season.
“It’s a real honour to be selected by my peers and by the club to be part of the leadership group. I feel very humbled.
“We have a great group full of amazing people and talent, so I’m keen to see how I can contribute to that this season.”
The Carlton vs Collingwood rivalry will continue in Round 2 when the two sides meet at Ikon Park on a Sunday afternoon. The rivalry between the two clubs now has an added dimension, with the Blues’ former captain now wearing the black and white.
“It will be emotional, I’m not going to hide away from that. I have a lot of very good friends in the Carlton Football Club and I love them, so it’s going to be a weird experience.
“There might be a bit of stuff yelled out from the crowd,” Davey laughs.
“I’m definitely probably going to expect that, that’s sort of natural.
“In terms of the players, I hope there wouldn’t be too much animosity because again, I didn’t leave because I wanted to hurt any of them or anything like that and I would hope that none of them have taken it personally.
“But for me it gets to a point where football is football and I’ll go out and being a competitive person, I’m just going to be playing to the best of my ability and whatever goes on outside of that, that’s not what I’m going to be focusing on.”
Davey feels she has left the Blues in a good place. Emerging Collingwood leader Jaimee Lambert.
Former Australian Diamonds netballer Sharni Layton has developed into one of the best rucks in the league. New Collingwood AFLW coach Steve Symonds. Chloe Molloy.