The Evolution of Roy Girls

The Fitzroy Junior Football Club (FJFC) was created in 1993 and it wasn’t until 18 years later that the first girls arrived.

girls-footy-sadie2On the 28th February 2011 we received our first female registration – Sadie Gray who played with the Under 10 boys under Head Coach John Ramshaw.

girls-footy-sadie5Sadie was at Northcote Auskick for three seasons and was lucky enough to feature on national  TV as part of Fitzy’s Draft Camp on Before The Game.

Sadie went on to play 120 games in her career as a founding Roy Girl. In 2022 Sadie returned to the club as an Assistant Coach to Phil Murdoch’s Youth Girls team.


On 1st March 2011 we had our second female registration – Ellie McKenzie, who also played with the Under 10 Boys. Ellie went on to play 125 games between 2011 and 2019. Both Sadie and Ellie played in mixed teams for three years before Fitzroy joined the YJFL girls’ competition.


The YJFL introduced its first female competition in 2011 which was limited to Youth Girls for girls aged 17/18 years. 2012 saw the League introduce an Under 12 competition for girls, and then Under 14 Girls followed in 2013.




Season 2014

In late 2013 the YJFL tweaked the format to consist of Youth Girls, Under 15 and Under 12.

In response, Fitzroy held a clinic at Victoria Park in December 2013 for girls interested in playing with the club. The turn-out exceeded all expectations and the club went from thinking about one girls team entry in 2014 to three!

Roy Girls Footy started with three teams: Youth Girls (under 18), Under 15 and Under 12, with 59 players registered.

Maddy Guerin was runner-up in the YJFL Under 15 Best & Fairest in her first season.

Season 2015

In 2015 the club consolidated on three teams: Youth Girls, Under 15 and Under 12. Numbers grew to 64.

U12 Girls made finals, and several future AFLW stars placed in the Best & Fairest counts: Under 15s – Ellie McKenzie (2nd), Nell Morris-Dalton (3rd), and Youth Girls – Maddy Guerin (3rd).


Season 2016

In 2016, the YJFL introduced an Under 10 Girls competition which meant four Roy Girls teams with 103 females registered and all teams at full capacity. The Club also introduced a new Committee role to represent the girls, and this was managed by the Roy Girls Development Manager whose main aim was to support and promote the Roy Girls Development Pathway within the club and broader community. This role also aimed to increase the participation of female coaches within the club.


Under 12 Girls were Premiers (Brown Division) – a first for the club. Also, Youth Girls made finals (Division 2).

Best & Fairest placegetters were: Under 15 – Ellie McKenzie (2nd), and Youth Girls – Molly Eastman (3rd).

Season 2017

In 2017, the League restructured the girls’ teams and introduced Under 13, Under 14 and Under 16 age groups. The Club also introduced a further four teams, making a total of eight: Youth Girls, Under 16, Under 14, Under 13, Under 12 (2 teams) and Under 10 (2 teams). 177 girls registered – a massive increase in the foundation year of the AFLW.

Five teams made the finals: Under 12s, Under 13s, Under 14s, Under 16s and Youth Girls.

Best & Fairest placegetters were: Under 12 – Amy Jones (3rd), Under 14 – Zara Flanigan (2nd), and Youth Girls – Ellie McKenzie (2nd).

Maddy Guerin was drafted at #14 by Melbourne, later moving to Carlton. Maddy played 49 games for Fitzroy.

Season 2018

In 2018, the League added Under 11 age group and the number of Fitzroy teams rose to 10. Female numbers soared to 220: Youth Girls (2 teams), Under 15, Under 14 (2 teams), Under 13, Under 12, Under 11 (2 teams) and Under 10.

Youth Girls were Premiers, and several other teams made finals: Under 11s (playing as Under 12s), Under 12s, Under 14s and Under 16s.

Two girls won YJFL B&F contests: Zoe Hargreaves (Under 12) and Zara Flanigan (Youth Girls). Placegetters were: Under 15 – Maisie Welsh (2nd), and Youth Girls – Ellie McKenzie (3rd).

Season 2019

In 2019, female numbers were 203. The nine teams were: Youth Girls, Under 16, Under 15 (two teams), Under 14, Under 13, Under 12 (two teams) and Under 11.

Four teams made finals: Under 12s (both teams), Under 14s and Youth Girls. Zoe Hargreaves placed 3rd in the Under 13 Best & Fairest.

Nell Morris-Dalton was drafted at #6 by the AFLW Western Bulldogs.

Season 2020

Female registrations sat at 184 in March (pre-season), before the season was shut down due to Covid-19. There was a brief effort to relaunch the season in June 2020, but it did not eventuate.

Although disappointing for everyone, there was one bright spot: Ellie McKenzie was the AFLW #1 draft pick, selected by Richmond. The only YJFL club to hold that honour.

Season 2021

In 2021, female numbers declined to 157, a legacy of Covid-19. There were seven teams: Youth Girls (two teams), Under 16, Under 15, Under 14 (two teams), and Under 12.

The season was called off before finals could commence (another Covid-19 lockdown). But Youth Girls were awarded the premiership after going through the season undefeated.

Best & Fairest placegetters were: U15 – Winnie Buckley (2nd) and Zoe Hargreaves (3rd), and Youth Girls – Madison Katerelos (3rd).

Season 2022

In 2022, female numbers have increased to 172 across eight teams: Youth-1, Youth-2, Under 16, Under 15-1, Under 15-2, Under 13, Under 12 and Under 10. A summer project to boost numbers and teams for younger age groups took the form of pre-season girls’ clinics were offered to all age groups apart from Youth Girls. The effort paid off.

Our two Auskick centres, Fitzroy and Clifton Hill, were fully integrated into the club, allowing for better defined player pathways. The two Fitzroy clubs (Juniors and Seniors) are establishing pathways for females of all abilities to continue to play football beyond the junior years.

Rylie Wilcox was the AFLW #21 draft pick, selected by the Western Bulldogs. Also, Molly Eastman was selected by the new Sydney Swans AFLW team.