Australia

Debbie Lee becomes first woman to join Australian Football Hall of Fame

Debbie Lee has created history by becoming the first woman inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Lee was joined by Chris Judd, Nathan Burke and Rob Wiley as the 2021 inductees, while Jack Oatey and Merv McIntosh were elevated to Legend status.

Lee was recognised for her years of service to football as a player and administrator, predominantly in the VFLW competition, where she played more than 300 matches and was a five-time league best-and-fairest winner.

She is now the general manager of women’s football with the Western Bulldogs.

Lee paid tribute to her parents for the support they had provided her during her career.

“They did everything they could have to provide a really good life for myself and my brothers,” she told Fox Footy.

Lee said she was just one of many trailblazers who had helped develop the women’s game.

“Thanks to the unsung heroes, the women and men who stood beside me in the journey of women’s football,” she said.

Western Bulldogs’ 2018 AFLW premiership-winning captain, Ellie Blackburn, was among the many to congratulate Lee on her induction.

“You have done incredible things for our game and we are all grateful for your contribution so far,” Blackburn tweeted.

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Judd’s glittering AFL career was saluted in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility.

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A Brownlow Medal winner at two clubs, Judd retired in 2015 after 14 seasons and 279 matches with West Coast (134) and Carlton (145).

The brilliant midfielder won the game’s most coveted individual award for the first time in 2004, his third season at AFL level, and claimed the Norm Smith Medal in a losing grand final against Sydney the following year.

Judd captained West Coast in their nail-biting 2006 grand final win over the Swans, having taken over as skipper when Ben Cousins was stripped of the role earlier that year.

He left the Eagles at the end of 2007 for Carlton and claimed a second Brownlow Medal in 2010, but could not repeat his premiership success with the Blues.

A six-time All Australian, Judd is due to step down from his role as a Carlton board member at the end of this season, ending his formal association with the club.

Burke, who coaches the Bulldogs’ AFLW team, made his name as a tough midfielder for St Kilda (323 matches) and Victoria (11).

Nathan Burke coaches the Western Bulldogs’ AFLW team following his excellent playing career with St Kilda. (

AAP: Michael Dodge

)

Wiley starred on both sides of the country, playing in two WAFL premierships with Perth (1976-77) and one VFL flag with Richmond (1980).

He won eight best-and-fairest awards with Perth.

Oatey and McIntosh were both elevated posthumously, taking the total number of official Legends of the game to 31.

Oatey coached more than 500 wins with Norwood, West Adelaide and Sturt in a career that reaped 10 SANFL premierships, and had the competition’s grand final best-on-ground medal named in his honour.

McIntosh was a three-time Sandover medallist and seven-time best-and-fairest winner with Perth.

He famously won the Simpson Medal as best afield in Perth’s 1955 premiership when the team overcame a 34-point deficit at half-time to upset East Fremantle.

Adam Goodes declined induction to the Hall of Fame this year because the game failed to adequately support him towards the end of his playing career.

Goodes, a two-time premiership winner with Sydney and twice a Brownlow medallist, retired in 2015 after persistent booing by crowds.

The AFL has since apologised for its handling of the situation.

Hall of Fame selection chair Richard Goyder said Norwood great Garry McIntosh also declined induction this year because he did not play the game for personal honours.

ABC/AAP


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