Mar­quee Mag­pie

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.

Inside Sport - - Editor's Letter - BY PHOEBE MCWIL­LIAMS

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.


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


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.

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