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Adelaide Football Club - Crows History Locker

2023 AFLW

Games Won 10

Ladder Position 3

Premiership position: 3rd (10 wins, 3 losses). 1st after minor round (9 wins, one loss).
Coach: Matthew Clarke
Captain: Chelsea Randall

Adelaide’s best was outstanding in 2023 before a heart-breaking one-point preliminary final loss ended another promising campaign.

The Crows finished top of the AFLW ladder after losing only one of their ten minor round games but then suffered two narrow losses in three finals to miss the chance to contest for a fourth premiership.

A stunning goal square mark and late goal to Anne Hatchard was not enough for Adelaide to get past North Melbourne in the preliminary final at Ikon Park.

But the Crows made their journey tougher in the first week of the finals series when they suffered a two-point loss to Brisbane at Norwood Oval.  They bounced back the next week against Sydney but had lost the right to a home prelim.

Coach Matthew Clarke said it was a frustrating finish considering Adelaide had played significantly better football in 2023 than the previous season.

“This one probably stings a little bit more because I feel as though our best footy could well have been good enough to play in the Grand Final,” he said. “We’re pretty disappointed that in both finals which we’ve lost, we just haven’t quite had the level of intensity that we’ve expected from ourselves from the first minute of the game – we’ll have to live with that one.”

In the off-season, Adelaide lost star forward Ashleigh Woodland and Jasmine Simmons to Port Adelaide but signed Sarah Goodwin, a talented former Crows Academy player who was drafted by Port before its inaugural season in 2022. Two-time premiership players Marijana Rajcic and Dayna Cox retired and another two-title veteran Ailish Considine was picked up by North Melbourne.  

Jess Allan returned to the Club after moving back to South Australia and the Crows signed experienced Irish forward Yvonne Bonner, who played with GWS in 2019-20. Inaugural Crow Deni Varnhagen also returned to the active list after having her first child in October 2022 and sitting out the previous season due to the league’s COVID vaccination policy.

During the pre-season three-time All-Australian defender Sarah Allan suffered a serious hamstring injury and Hannah Button tore her anterior cruciate ligament. But Adelaide started in fine style with a 30-point thumping of Port at Norwood Oval. The Crows trailed at half-time but kicked six consecutive goals after the break. Speedster Niamh Kelly (28 disposals, six clearances, one goal) won the Showdown Medal.

Adelaide celebrated captain Chelsea Randall’s 50th game with a 29-point away win against Richmond. Danielle Ponter’s remarkable goal from the centre circle was an early favourite for goal of the year.

The Crows continued to show their strength with a 47-point win over Essendon at Unley Oval followed by a club record score (16.10) in a 69-point win against Greater Western Sydney. Ebony Marinoff collected 40 possessions as the Crows added ten consecutive goals in the second half.

Ponter’s 50th game ended in another strong 32-point win against Gold Coast and the Crows then became the first side to defeat reigning premier Melbourne in 2023, resisting a last-quarter push from the Demons to win by ten points at Casey Fields.

Adelaide won its seventh consecutive game with a seven-goal demolition of the winless Western Bulldogs but lost young gun Abbie Ballard to a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The winning run ended the following round when the Crows lost to Brisbane by three points. But Adelaide hit back with a three-point win against North Melbourne and then completed the minor round with a 26-point win over West Coast in sweltering conditions at Mineral Resources Park in Perth. Brisbane’s win over Melbourne later in the day meant the Crows finished top of the ladder.

Brisbane, however, then took their winning form into the first final. Crows forward Eloise Jones produced a career-best performance with four exciting goals but the Lions dominated early and then fought back late in the game to win by two points.

Adelaide, led by Hatchard (36 disposals), ended Sydney’s run with a 67-point semi-final victory under lights at Norwood Oval. But Adelaide had another slow start in the preliminary final. Ponter kicked Adelaide’s first three goals and Hatchard’s late brilliance gave the Crows a chance but North was able to keep the ball at their end for most of the last three minutes. 

Marinoff claimed her second Club Champion jacket, building on her amazing record that has included top three finishes in the count in every season since 2017. Three-time winner Hatchard was runner-up, Kelly finished third and leading goalkicker Ponter came fourth.

Four Adelaide players were recognised for their outstanding 2023 AFLW campaigns, earning All-Australian selection. Marinoff, defender Chelsea Biddell and first-timers Kelly and Ponter were named in the final team of 21. It was Marinoff’s sixth AA selection. Hatchard and Caitlin Gould were selected in the initial squad.

Awards and Achievements

All Australians: Chelsea Biddell, Ebony Marinoff, Niamh Kelly, Danielle Ponter

Players’ Player award: Ebony Marinoff

AFC Leading Goalkicker: Danielle Ponter

Defensive Player of Year: Zoe Prowse

Members’ MVP: Ebony Marinoff

Showdown Medal: Niamh Kelly

Other news

  • Premiership captains Chelsea Randall and Erin Phillips became the first AFLW players to be awarded Adelaide Football Club Life Membership. Crows CEO Tim Silvers said Randall and Phillips’ pioneering contribution to the game was fitting of Life Membership: “Their contributions not only to our Club but to the game have gone well beyond the fence, from their outstanding on-field performances and leadership, to the role they have played in inspiring the next generation of female footballers and in growing the game to what it has become today.”
  • Two more Crows played their 50th AFLW games in 2023. Randall and Ponter were the seventh and eighth Adelaide AFLW players to reach the milestone while Marinoff finished the year with the maximum of 79 games from the first eight seasons.
  • Captain Randall and partner (and AFLW assistant coach) Marijana Rajcic welcomed a baby boy late in the season. Tomi Randall was born on October 27. 

List changes

In: Jess Allan (GWS), Sarah Goodwin (Port Adelaide), Yvonne Bonner (Ireland/GWS Giants), Brooke Smith (Dandenong Stingrays), Deni Varnhagen (from inactive list). Rookie: Taylah Levy (South Adelaide).

First game players

Yvonne Bonner, v Port Adelaide at Norwood Oval, 2/9/23 (player debut number 64)

Sarah Goodwin, v Port Adelaide at Norwood Oval, 2/9/23 (65)

Taylah Levy, v Brisbane at Brighton Homes Arena (Brisbane), 21/10/23 (66)

Brooke Smith, v West Coast at Mineral Resources Park (Perth), 4/11/23 (67)

Season gallery

Related links

Club Champion top ten
1: Ebony Marinoff 369 votes
2: Anne Hatchard 341
3: Niamh Kelly 318
4: Danielle Ponter 303
5: Chelsea Biddell 297
6: Eloise Jones 281
7: Teah Charlton 261
8: Zoe Prowse 257
9: Madison Newman 256
10: Caitlin Gould 250
= Chelsea Randall 250
Leading goalkickers
20 Danielle Ponter
19 Caitlin Gould
18 Eloise Jones
8 Anne Hatchard

AFL Women’s B&F
13 Hatchard
11 Marinoff
10 Kelly
2 Gould, Randall, Charlton, Newman
1 Martin
2023 Club Champion Ebony Marinoff

All-Australians Chelsea Biddell, Danielle Ponter, Niamh Kelly and Ebony Marinoff

The first Club Life Members from the AFLW program, Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall.

The 2023 squad

Back row (from left): Yvonne Bonner (31), Danielle Ponter (15), Lisa Whitely (22), McKenzie Dowrick (24), Brooke Smith (18), Niamh Kelly (23), Teah Charlton (25), Sarah Goodwin (11). Second row: Najwa Allen (8), Amber Ward (3), Chelsea Biddell (12), Jessica Allan (32), Caitlin Gould (1), Zoe Prowse (4), Deni Varnhagen (9). Sitting: Brooke Tonon (28), Stevie-Lee Thompson (14), Ebony Marinoff (10), Chelsea Randall (26, captain), Matthew Clarke (coach), Sarah Allan (39), Eloise Jones (2), Madison Newman (17), Keeley Kustermann (7). Front: Jess Waterhouse (19), Hannah Munyard (20), Hannah Button (6), Kiera Mueller (13), Taylah Levy (16), Abbie Ballard (27), Rachelle Martin (5).

2023 jumpers

The main AFLW guernsey was changed in 2023 to closer resemble the design of the Club’s original jumper first worn in 1991. Navy blue replaced red as the main colour on the front of the jumper and the hoops were thinner and in the same order as the men’s guernsey. It was worn for the first time in the round one Showdown. The club also introduced a new clash version, with a gold base, used in rounds two and six. The 2023 Indigenous guernsey design – worn by all three of Adelaide’s teams – was designed by the aunt of AFLW premiership player Danielle Ponter. It was worn in rounds seven and eight. The 2023 Pride Round (round ten) guernsey, designed in conjunction with Adelaide’s AFLW players, is an adaptation of the Club’s original rainbow Pride design with the addition of the colours of the Progressive Pride Flag. 

Anne Hatchard models the new main guernsey; Rachelle Martin and Caitlin Gould; The new clash guernsey (Danielle Ponter); Ponter in the new Indigenous design; Eloise Jones in the Pride Round jumper.