AFLW 100(?!) Most Valuable AFLW Players Pre-2020

Teen Wolf

Club Legend
Jul 5, 2011
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
Top 50 is nice and all (and I'm going to spend a lot more time focusing on that half of the list), but 100 paints a truer picture about each team's list imo.

The rankings here will be very much subjective gut-feel and hardly scientific, in fact I've deliberately avoided referring to all but a few stats in the player summaries I've written--you can look up numbers from plenty of other sources, and use them to tell whatever story you want.

Essentially, if I was starting up a team from scratch based on what I've seen at AFLW level, this is what my draft wishlist would look like. I should note plenty has happened (and will continue to) since the bulk of this was constructed. But I will keep things the same (such as including the preoccupied Ellie Brush, and excluding the revived Courtney Gum) as a reminder of how quickly they can change.

Here's the 100-51 group in one fell swoop:

53: Sarah Allan
68: Marijana Rajcic
73: Courtney Cramey
80: Chloe Scheer
95: Jess Foley

60: Sophie Conway
69: Breanna Koenen
99: Lauren Arnell

51: Gabriella Pound
55: Nicola Stevens
75: Kerryn Harrington
78: Chloe Dalton
97: Alison Downie
100: Katie Loynes

63: Sarah Dargan
86: Sarah D'Arcy
89: Steph Chiocci

58: Ashley Sharp
74: Evie Gooch

70: Maddy McMahon
72: Meg McDonald
88: Melissa Hickey
90: Richelle Cranston
98: Phoebe McWilliams

Gold Coast
71: Sam Virgo
81: Jacqui Yorston

GWS Giants
67: Ellie Brush
87: Jacinda Barclay
94: Yvonne Bonner
96: Cora Staunton

52: Bianca Jakobsson
56: Libby Birch
62: Aliesha Newman
83: Eden Zanker
91: Lauren Pearce

Nth Melb.
57: Jasmine Grierson
66: Kaitlyn Ashmore
79: Ash Riddell
92: Kate Gillespie-Jones

85: Christina Bernardi

St Kilda
61: Kate McCarthy
84: Courteney Munn

West Coast
65: Kellie Gibson
77: McKenzie Dowrick
93: Parris Laurie

W. Bulldogs
54: Hannah Scott
59: Brooke Lochland
64: Aisling Utri
76: Bonnie Toogood
82: Isabel Huntington

And now, 50-41. From this point on, the rankings will be accompanied with explanations, which may also clarify some of the earlier choices. Each summary will end with the use of football shorthand in the form of a Male Counterpart as another descriptive tool. This will perhaps offend some silly people for some silly reason, and my heart is truly broken over that prospect.

50: Ash Brazill (Coll) 30 years old and her continuity in the game isn’t as clear as the Diamonds at her doorstep. She can launch a big footy up the line, problem is it rarely crashlands to a teammate’s advantage after re-entering earth’s atmosphere. A fine aerial interceptor, which you’d expect from a first-and-foremost netball WD. But what about her surprisingly magnificent zig-zagging dash-and-carry game, she must’ve been a gridiron RB in a past life. Male Counterpart: Tyson Goldsack

49: Tegan Cunningham (Melb)
On another team, one that isn’t a serious contender, this rusty AT-AT walker would be dead weight. For Melbourne, her ability to take a pack mark in front of goal with a game on the line might be the difference between a flag and another not-quite-good-enough season. A promising baby giraffe like Eden Zanker bodes well for the Demons’ future; right now, though, they just need an efficient converter with a career’s worth of experience in out-bodying opponents to take advantage of their all-star centre-square unit. Male Counterpart: Jesse Hogan

48: Emma Swanson (WC) Competent midfielder with dubious durability, the quietest prolific accumulator going. Male Counterpart: Drew Banfield

47: Jamie Stanton (GC) Cuts it on the inside with the best, while her kick-to-handball ratio ought to be inverted for somebody who can hack it like the worst. Male Counterpart: Andrew Swallow

46: Kirsty Lamb (WB) Not a lot of elite athleticism to speak of, and so her being the Bulldogs’ best player in 2019 was symptomatic of bigger problems. Her great strength is rightly based in knowing her limitations and crafting solutions to circumvent them. 46th out of 420 has her just missing out on the top 10%, meaning you won’t find a smarter B-grader. Male Counterpart: Brian Royal

45: Stevie-Lee Thompson (Adel) Consider Aliesha Newman or Sophie Abbatangelo for this year’s leading goal-kicker—players fitting the profile of under-the-radar crumbing forwards in high-performing teams. Therefore, why not consider Thompson too? She remains well down on the list of must-stop Crows because her sufficient skills and right-time-right-place discipline aren’t spectacular enough to worry about until it’s too late! Male Counterpart: Graham Johncock

44: Alyce Parker (GWS) She’s got what's required for hard-ball gets, fending off tacklers, booming handpasses and picking up an All-Australian nomination, but my guess is the Giants coaching staff think she needs more pre-season running sessions with Alicia Eva and less pats on the back from Kelli Underwood. Male Counterpart: Sam Mitchell

43: Emma King (NM) Lauren Pearce’s tidy foot skills and Breann Moody’s ground-level hustle are good for big girls, yet both fall short of true Extra Mobile Midfielder Ability. King, amazingly, doesn’t possess real E.M.M.A. either. Her recently unveiled key forward prowess, however, does provide North with a Functioning Legitimate Alternative Goalscoring avenue that can swing the outcome of games. Male Counterpart: Ben Brown

42: Tayla Harris (Carl) Probably a better boxer than footballer, definitely a better mark than kick despite what you may have heard. Harris is destined to take the defining Jesaulenkoesque speccy of the era over and over, as if to mockingly run rings around the is-she-worthy-of-the-hype hoopla. The price tag is she’ll also perennially be the clanging-the-post-from-5-metres-out type, and so be it—fellow long-bomber Malcolm Blight has done some mystifyingly stupid things from point blank range too. Male Counterpart: Matthew Richardson

41: Gemma Houghton (Frem) Not tall enough to play in the ruck, too athletically gifted to waste as a defensive forward, quite a bit more uncoordinated than you’d want from a reliable source of goals, lacks the instincts to have Genuine Extra Mobile Midfielder Ability… Well, the eye-catching against-the-tide performance Houghton delivered in the inaugural Round 7 Casey Fields Slaughter was recaptured throughout all of 2019, getting her nearer and nearer to proving any reasonable initial evaluation wrong. Male Counterpart: Michael Johnson

Currently putting some finishing touches on the next batch of 10.

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the Ziebull

Brownlow Medallist
Nov 14, 2010
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Great job and Not to preempt the list

Best north players imo
Emma King

Teen Wolf

Club Legend
Jul 5, 2011
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
There are some players I couldn't help but lump together. To make the click worthwhile, instead of just the next 10, here's 40-21:

40: Nina Morrison (Geel) The one-game women's footballer to rule them all. She hasn’t drifted off the beaten path, it's just the path to the top is steeper and lined with more ravenous goblins than anticipated. Male Counterpart: Nathan Fyfe

39: Kara Donnellan (Frem) Hampered by as many ailments in '19 as Henry VIII had wives (or ailments, for that matter), the difference is she married into royalty if you ask me. Maybe her reign as captain isn't a birthright like I used to think, nevertheless the tendency to shit out the occasional pearler—despite an interrupted run of fitness—helps stake a considerable claim. Male Counterpart: Peter Bell

38: Kate Hore (Melb) A pretty perfect participant. Male Counterpart: Shaun Higgins

37: Jess Dal Pos (GWS) The possibilities are endless, the possessions scarce. Male Counterpart: Stephen Coniglio

36: Ruth Wallace (Adel) Such a knack for sharking hit-outs deserves a really big tank. Male Counterpart: Andrew McLeod

35-31: Sabreena Duffy (Frem), Rebecca Beeson (GWS), Sarah Rowe (Coll), Tyla Hanks (Melb) and Danielle Ponter (Adel) A clever and skilful bunch I'm eager to see transform into the next generation of consistently dominant on-ballers, except Ponter (that would be too many GOTYs gone begging). How deep can the talent pool go? I don't know, but this marketing dream quintet—each from a different walk of life, none of them more than a speck on the AFLW radar five years ago—epitomises the notion of a top-end richness already wildly exceeding any reasonable expectations. Male Counterparts: Hayden Ballantyne, Josh Kelly, Marty Clarke, Jason Akermanis and Eddie Betts

30: Lily Mithen (Melb) The tricky part about this exercise isn't assessing what role a player performs, how unique and important that role is, and how well they perform it, but forecasting all those factors over a ten or fifteen year career in some cases. So for an ultra-coachable 21yo nifty little unfinished product, one who doesn't immediately strike fear into the hearts of opponents, I'm wary of Mithen getting distracted with trivial side projects like Operation: Get Some Mongrel Aboutcha. I don't think her imperturbable exterior is a façade, nor is it an impediment in need of correction. Male Counterpart: Angus Brayshaw

29 & 28: Darcy Vescio (Carl) and Sabrina Frederick (Rich): DV3's explosive agility and Sabs' big grabs make them the hardest forwards to stop… when firing on all cylinders, not when they're merely battling to stay out on the track. As a Hybrid-driving nerd, even I know most luxury sports cars are really high maintenance, and cutting costs on repairs won't pay off down the road. Male Counterparts: Andrew Walker and Nic Naitanui

27-25: Jenna Bruton (NM), Anne Hatchard (Adel) and Ally Anderson (Bris) The no-nonsense workhorses nobody envisions as their marquee midfielder in theory, yet no credible contested football team can do without in practice. Male Counterparts: Anthony Stevens, Matt Crouch and Lachie Neale

24-22: Ebony Marinoff (Adel), Elise O'Dea (Melb) and Alicia Eva (GWS) Top-notch ball magnets guilty of undervaluing their other strengths. They can use the footy in a way the previous three lack a natural finesse for, without apparently caring to all that often. Male Counterparts: Rory Sloane, Daniel Kerr and Tom Scully

21: Brianna Davey (Coll) If you're looking for a leader to drag wooden-spooners into premiership contention, look no further. Collingwood's hottest new recruit is Bri… She. Has. Everything: backwards handpassing, the turning circle of a cruise ship, top speeds of a drowsy tortoise, and the muscle definition of an underwhelming old-timey carnival strongman. Her knees look like biscuits and she's partial to one-nil scorelines, but an ugly winner is a winner nonetheless. Thinking about women's sport over the last few years, I'm struggling to come up with another name responsible for such an intense barometric effect on their team, unless that name carries the initials E.P. Male Counterpart: Dane Swan

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