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Anderson: Why I came to Essendon

Boom Essendon recruit Ally Anderson is trekking outside her comfort zone. (Photo: Ben Johnstone)

ALLY Anderson is comfortable feeling uncomfortable.

Fresh from a brilliant AFLW campaign for the Brisbane Lions, Essendon’s boom VFLW recruit has moved south for the winter to challenge herself.

The 22-year-old midfielder, who averaged 21 disposals a game for the Lions, says it was time to trek outside her comfort zone.

“The last few years I’ve wanted to give VFLW a go and try it. I said that to my manager (Alex Saundry who is playing with Essendon this season) during the AFLW season and she put it in the works. It was also a great fit because the Bombers don’t have an AFLW team yet but they have an elite environment so there was no conflict of interest coming down here from the Lions,’’ she tells essendonfc.com.au.

“I’ve played at Coorparoo (in QLD) for two years and it’s the best club ever, it’s so good, but I’m down here because I want to be out of my comfort zone.

“It’s my fourth week here and it’s been a bit of a challenge because the style of footy is different – back home I’m used to that Queensland style because I’ve played it for so long. I’ve played three games for Essendon now - the first game I played half a game, a bit more the second game and by the third I was starting to find my feet. It’s definitely not comfortable yet which is a good thing.


Ally Anderson (kneeling, second from left) joins Essendon VFLW's fellow Indigenous players in a pre-game war cry against the Tigers. (Photo: Ben Johnstone)

“With footy, I’ve always had that approach. I was comfortable and liked it at Coorparoo but I came to the Bombers because I’m always looking to get better and I really think that’s the only way you can get better – if you do things that aren’t comfortable.”

Anderson arrived in Melbourne last month and donned the sash against Geelong in round two.

“I got off the plane and went straight to The Hangar and had my first training session that night. Walking in for the first time, the facilities were amazing and the way everything is run by the staff and coaches it felt like going back into AFLW season with the Lions, it’s the same environment,’’ she says.

“I’ve been welcomed with open arms. The coaches have all been very helpful, involved and they’re very passionate and that makes it easier because we’re all here for the same reasons.

“The girls have been really good too. We’ve got some experienced players like 'C-Bomb' (Cecilia McIntosh) and others who have played AFLW and they’re teaching me things and then we’ve got some great young girls and I find myself giving little tips here and there which is developing that leadership side of my game.”

Anderson took her own game and form to a new level in the third instalment of AFLW, earning All-Australian selection and claiming the Lions best and fairest.

So, what was the secret to her 2019 success?

“I felt like I belonged. I’m someone who’s always doubted myself a bit but going into season three I felt like I belonged and to then, at the end of the season, get reward for that effort was really exciting,’’ Anderson explains.

“I remember going to the W Awards last year, everyone who made the All-Australian squad was invited but only half were picked in the team. I was one of the ones who didn’t make the team. I was completely fine about it, I was rapt to be considered to be invited, but I remember sitting there and thinking ‘that’s my goal to make the All-Australian team’.

“After the first year of AFLW a goal of mine in the future was to get the Lions best and fairest so to achieve both this season was something I was really excited about.”


Ally Anderson in action for the Lions during last year's AFLW Grand Final. (Photo: AFL Media)

Now, Anderson is focused on playing her role for the Bombers and adding more wins to the season tally while also working hard on her own game.

“My disposal efficiency and game smarts, that’s what I’m really working on. Oh, and kicking goals, I’m not really that great in front of goal, I always pass it off, so I’m trying to work on it now so hopefully it comes off in AFLW.”

And while a Melbourne winter has taken some adjusting, there’s one important thing Anderson has quickly adapted to.

“The coffee here is delicious, I love it. I’m a massive brunch person too, I’d eat bacon and eggs every day,’’ she laughs.

“The first week I moved to Melbourne I was having five coffees a day because I was so excited.”