August 1st, 2023 marked a momentous occasion at Feighan Oval, as Elizabeth Brown etched her name into Bulldogs history as the first Women’s player from Warners Bay AFC to reach the illustrious 100-game milestone. Brown’s remarkable journey within women’s football across the Hunter Central Coast region commenced eight years ago, a journey that extended beyond the playing field to encompass tireless off-field efforts, culminating in her becoming the Senior Club President of Warners Bay AFC in 2020.
From fierce battles on the pitch to participation in impactful themed rounds transcending the game’s boundaries, Liz’s passion for football shines through every endeavour she undertakes. In anticipation of her 100th AFL Hunter Central Coast Women’s Cup match, Brown found it a challenge to single out just one highlight from a plethora of cherished memories.
Recalling her initial steps into the AFL world, Brown shares, “Despite not being a devoted AFL follower before joining, I was profoundly moved by the sense of community and unwavering support the club provided players right from the start.”
Yet, it is the connections forged with fellow players that stand out as her most cherished moments. “Within the confines of Warners Bay, I’ve experienced moments of pure camaraderie, forging friendships that will last a lifetime. The genuine support and the opportunity to share both triumphs and trials with friends and family on the sidelines every week is truly something special,” Brown remarks with a smile.
Brown who currently works as an Architect, and is part owner of a local firm, grew up in Port Stephens after relocating from Sydney as a child, and got involved with the Warners Bay Bulldogs Women’s team in their inaugural year in 2015. Liz was also co-captain in the first season’s leadership group, as well as being the captain for the 2016 & 2017 seasons. Work commitments have limited Brown over the last couple of seasons, as well as ‘old age and injury’. In 2020 she became the second female president in the club’s storied 49-year history, following on from Louisa Buckley, as the first female president, the year before.
Reflecting on her tenure, Brown humbly shares, “‘I took great pride in being the president of the club for 3 years which allowed me to gain valuable insights into community sports and volunteering. Navigating the challenges posed by COVID-19 was undoubtedly a testing phase, but witnessing our club’s resurgence and the return of players to the field brought a sense of accomplishment like no other.”
Taking on the president role allowed Brown to shift in her mindset with maturity granting her a new perspective on football.
“When I first came to Feighan Oval, I was a bit consumed by learning the game and picking up skills, rather than understanding the level of effort required by volunteers to keep the club running. Warners Bay has always had a strong group of supporters, volunteering their time for both the senior and junior clubs. It’s quite humbling when you realise that they are doing it just to make sure the playing experience is as good, and safe, as it can be”
However, to reach the 100-game mark is something that Brown would never have imagined.
“Having not played, or even watched an AFL game before, I can’t believe that I’ve made it to 100 games. Playing 50 and sharing it on the day with Kade Booth was the first AFL career highlight. It’s so great to do this again with ‘Boothy’, returning to the club in a different role for the team. ” As the landscape of women’s football continues to evolve, Brown’s perspective has transformed alongside it. “My initial focus was on mastering the game itself, but over time, I came to appreciate the immense effort poured in by volunteers to sustain the club. Warners Bay has been fortunate to have an unwavering group of supporters, dedicating their time to ensure the players’ experience is the best it can be.”
Brown joked that 200-games may be her next target, however concedes that her retirement may not be far away, but beyond her 100th match, Brown still has plenty to give.
“I love coming to the games and either just being a spectator or a water carrier now, with an occasional dabble as a player, when needed. It also means I can walk the next day”
In a fitting tribute to her achievement, the Bulldog’s Women’s team secured a commanding victory, affirming Brown’s legacy on the field. As she looks toward the future, we extend our heartfelt wishes to Liz for continued success and inspiration, both on and off the pitch.