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Pride of South Australia shines through Ebony Marinoff

Ebony Marinoff was drafted into the inaugural season of the AFLW in 2017 as an 18-year-old. Now, she is an All-Australian, a premiership player with the Adelaide Crows and a Rising Star winner.

She went One on One with Jack Hudson ahead of this year’s preliminary final to talk about her budding football career.

PHOTO: afc.com.au

Jack Hudson: You started your junior footy with Lockleys. What was that like?

Ebony Marinoff: It was awesome.

It means a lot that I got to play there given that my dad played there previously and played all his footy there.

My brother was also played there, so it was only normal to go there as we lived around the area.

To play at the same club they played there was pretty special, and continuing on, I guess, being one of the only girls that came through the footy club was special as well.

I started out at Auskick there and ended up in the Grasshoppers team and played all my junior footy there until the age of 14.

I was pretty lucky that was special within my family and then also a special club that let women play the game, even though I was probably the only girl in the team.

There were clubs in my league (Metro West League) that didn’t allow girls to play at their club, it was pretty special.

JH: Was it hard to leave when you went across to Morphettville Park?

EM: It’s funny because I had actually come to terms that I was done playing footy.

That was only normal to what I knew in the lead up to my last game.

I didn’t know about women’s footy until I’d play my last game.

I’m kind of a person that just accepts things, sometimes things don’t go our way and that was something that wasn’t going to go my way, I was getting a bit older and the boys were getting bigger and stronger.

I’d come to terms with that, so it was pretty easy for me, I’d closed the chapter at the Lockleys Footy Club, but not too far gone from closing that chapter, another one opened at ‘Morphy Park’.

JH: You then went on to win a premiership with Morphettville Park. How good was that?

EM: It was unreal, I was lucky enough to be a part of three premierships in the women’s league there, and also, I won a couple of juniors under 18 premierships there.

I didn’t win one at Lockleys, I was in a couple (of grand finals), we lost a couple of years in a row.

Then to go on to win some pretty special premierships with girls I had never played footy with, I hadn’t grown up with them, I was just a 15-year-old that walked into the footy club, and then went on to have an impact, and I played with a couple of the girls that I now play with at the Crows.

JH: You represented South Australia. How important was that to you?

EM: Obviously it’s very special to be able to put on a state jumper, and it’s special to put it on one time.

But I put it on multiple years, it’s just a huge honour to represent your state.

You take pride of where you come from, I’m a proud South Aussie, I’m Adelaide born and bred, it means a lot to me.

JH: A few years down the track you played in the AFL Exhibition Series. What was that experience like, and knowing that there may be a pathway coming up?

EM: It was unreal to be honest.

I guess I was just chipping away at my footy and really enjoying it, and then made state team that year, and was lucky enough to perform quite well.

That’s where it all started for me, I got noticed from the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne in that exhibition series and was drafted by Melbourne as a 17-year-old.

It was pretty crazy because I’d watched those exhibition games in previous years, and then I ended up being a part of one.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d end up being fortunate enough to be a part of that.

I guess it was the beginning of where AFLW took me.

JH: You were eventually drafted to the Crows. How did it feel to be on an AFL list?

EM: It was really special.

To be able to grow up and support the footy club, I’ve got so many memories of watching the Crows men down here at Football Park where we are based and train.

The most special part about it, that my dream which I thought would be nothing that could ever happen, it all happened every quickly.

It was special to be at draft, the first ever one.

It was a whirlwind year for me, but it was the beginning of something very special.

PHOTO: AFL Women’s, Twitter

JH: Your debut was quite memorable as well and you ended up with a Rising Star nomination. What do you remember about it?

EM: I remember running out with a smile on my face on Thebarton Oval.

We were the underdogs, no-one knew about us, we were just a team made up of South Australians and Northern Territory girls.

We didn’t know what the season would hold for us, we didn’t know where we were at.

We played a trial match with Fremantle and we lost that, we were wondering where we stand.

We went into that game with an open mind and went out to play footy, it was a very cool day to be a part of.

The fans around the oval, I’m usually a fan, to have so many girls come out and support us.

From young and old was incredible.

To top it off with a Rising Star nomination was a great start to a pretty successful debut season for not only myself, but for the club as we won the premiership.

JH: What do you remember about the grand final?

EM: We were up on the Gold Coast, and I just remember the final siren to be honest.

I don’t remember the change rooms, I don’t remember anything.

I just remember Erin Phillips having the ball and being tackled, and then the siren going.

It was pretty cool.

JH: Speaking of Erin, you’ve played alongside her for years, how has she been for you?

EM: Erin Phillips is a superstar on and off the field.

What she’s been able to do at WNBL, she’s been an Opal, she’s done it all really.

She’s excelled and represented her country, which is the highest level in basketball.

She’s come in to the AFLW, and she’s the best in the league.

She’s an incredible athlete, and what she brings to our group.

I said in an interview a few weeks ago that we are so lucky that we have someone like Erin Phillips because there’s only one of her, and we’re pretty lucky to have the Erin Phillips who we train and play with.

JH: You won All-Australian, a premiership and a Rising Star in the same year – pretty much did it all in one season – how did it feel?

EM: It’s funny you say that, because in that season you go what’s next? Because you’ve kind of achieved it all in one season.

I guess as a team last year and on an individual level, I felt I didn’t take the next step, I had a few injuries, but in saying that, I definitely learned from that.

I put myself in the best position this year to play the best possible footy I could, and I know I’m capable of.

It was a learning curve, but it was a pretty special year.

JH: Further down the track you represented the Allies in the State of Origin match, and while the result wasn’t good, you were still best on ground for your side. What was that like?

EM: It was a bit of a different sense, because we got absolutely annihilated by the Victorians.

I don’t really take much from that game, it was pretty disappointing to be a part of it, so it’s a game I definitely try to forget.

PHOTO: Wikipedia

JH: You broke the tackles record, as well as the disposals record this year. How did that feel?

EM: I guess last year I broke the tackle record and this year the disposals record, but at the end of the day, they’re just stats.

For me, my bigger picture is to play consistent footy, and if that means I’m having a year where I’m tackling a fair amount last year, I guess it represents where the ball is at, not in our hands.

This year, we’ve had some awesome games and some awesome contributors week in, week out.

A premiership would be the cherry on the top of any individual accolade, because that’s why we’re playing.

JH: You kicked your first goal the other week. How did that feel to finally get that done?

EM: To be honest it was a bit of relief.

Week in, week out I was asked when are you going to score your first goal, and now I don’t have to answer that question.

It was a special moment, it was close to the goal square, but I said to one of the girls, I got Karen Paxton, who’s an absolute gun, holding the ball.

That’s how I got my first goal, so I’m pretty happy with that.

JH: You have the preliminary final this week, how are you feeling going into it?

EM: I’m really excited, it’s an awesome opportunity that lies ahead for us on Sunday.

It’s going to be an awesome day for women’s footy here in South Australia.

We’re playing in the first ever preliminary final that the women’s side has played in, and what a better place to do it at than Adelaide Oval.

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Jack grew up in Gawler, South Australia – just 45 minutes north of Adelaide – and has a passion for all things football and soccer. Jack has worked in the media for more than four years, and hosts his own sports show on Barossa radio station BBBfm. He previously played football for Elizabeth, South Gawler, Gawler Central and at junior level with Central District, and is a die-hard Port Adelaide fan.