As the siren sounded on a third Adelaide premiership, one word was on everyone’s lips: dynasty.
“It’s pretty strange, [AFLW] has had five grand finals, we’ve been part of four, and won three,” captain Chelsea Randall told ABC Sport.
Strange was typically understated from Randall.
More accurate is that it’s a record immune to superlatives.
Adelaide’s third triumph — in the final season before all 18 clubs enter the competition — definitively stamps their dominance on what will historically become known as AFLW’s first chapter.
Most importantly for the Crows’ competitors, the growth of AFLW will see the belated introduction of a Port Adelaide side, splitting the South Australian talent pool for the first time.
With an inevitable raid coming from their cross-town rivals, Adelaide’s envied culture is set to face its most strenuous test yet.
Port questions linger for game’s greatest player
The first and most important chess piece in this equation is Erin Phillips.
Phillips’ legacy speaks for itself: three-time Premiership champion (and two-time Premiership captain), two-time league best and fairest, two-time best on ground in a grand final, two-time club champion, three-time All-Australian… the list goes on.
There’s nothing she has left to prove, nothing left to achieve.
Except, of course, the romance of leading the club her father won eight SANFL premierships for, the club she once said had “been my life, the life of my family.”
“I have no idea what I’m doing to be honest,” Phillips told ABC Sport in the rooms after the game.
Phillips never set out to play for Port Adelaide’s fiercest rival.
Back in 2015 she was publicly revealed as Port Adelaide’s first “signing” (pending the club’s admission into the league).
In fact, in a press conference held for the announcement, she went so far as to say “if you cut me open, I’ve got black and white blood”.
The irony of the Power twice opting not to apply for an AFL license is that it has gifted the tricolours the greatest player in the history of the women’s game.
Port’s own goal is Adelaide’s win, no matter what Phillips chooses to do next.
She also hinted that the decision may not be as simple as Adelaide or Port.
“I’ll spend the next couple of weeks just enjoying this, you know, letting the emotions come down and we’ll see what happens after that.”
Phillips added that she would need to discuss her future with wife Tracy Gahan, who she met playing basketball in the United States.
“She hasn’t been back home to Dallas for two and a half years,” said Phillips.
“She had made the ultimate sacrifice to allow me to live out my dream. We’ve got three kids, a beautiful life together, and the biggest thing [I have to think about] is how do we get back home first?
“That’s been so hard for her, I can’t tell you how unbelievably strong she’s been.”
‘What will be will be’
Phillips’ teammates were tight-lipped about what the star’s next move would be, including captain Chelsea Randall.
“Flip and I are best mates, she’s the yin to my yang. It’s pretty special what we’ve been able to do on the field over the last couple of years.
“We have some amazing memories together, so what will be will be; we’re just going to enjoy this for now.”
Importantly, Randall backed the club’s culture to ensure continued success despite the Power circling.
“We’ve had a really strong foundation from the word go, with [inaugural coach] Bec Goddard and Erin Phillips, and the rest of the team just buy into that, it’s exceptional.
“With ‘Doc’ [Matthew Clarke] coming in, he’s basically joined on the back of that and been an incredible coach for us.”
One player who won’t be leaving is cult hero Ebony Marinoff, who was popping champagne in the rooms after the game.
“No I’m not going to Port, I can tell you that right now,” she said with a trademark grin.
Like Randall, Marinoff said her loyalty to the Crows came down to the bonds built between players and club.
“There are so many past players in the room here today, and that just shows the love we have for each other.
“There’s something special about this group, and you only really know how special it is when you’re in the four walls.
“We have been talking about wanting to be a dynasty club, and you probably have to say that we classify as that now with three cups.”
Source: AFL NEWS ABC