WNBA-turned-footy superstar Erin Phillips has brought her footy legend father to tears after revealing she would be Port Adelaide’s inaugural AFLW captain.
Erin, who has been a three-time premiership player, two-time league best-and-fairest and two-time Grand Final best on ground winner with the Adelaide Crows, revealed she would be joining Port Adelaide after winning last season’s decider.
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Erin’s father Greg Phillips was an eight-time Port Adelaide SANFL premiership player and the captain between 1991 and his retirement in 1993 — before the club joined the AFL in 1997.
Greg, who was a 1980 All-Australian, played 343 games for the club and an addition 84 games for Collingwood in the VFL in over 18 years in top-flight footy.
He was also named in Port Adelaide’s greatest ever team, is a life member of the club and is an inaugural inductee into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame and a 2020 inductee into the AFL Hall of Fame.
So it’s safe to say the club means a fair bit to him and the family.
When joining the club, Erin said she would wear her father’s No. 22 when joining the club.
But after getting Greg down to the club for a photo shoot, he immediately realized the jig was up when the No. 1, which is reserved for the club captain, was on the back of the jersey.
“What’s this number? What’s this? Put another twenty one numbers on … plus twenty one?” Greg asked.
“Well you know how you said the best part of being at Port Adelaide was being captain?” Erin said.
“Are you already?” Greg replied.
He immediately wrapped her in a hug.
Clearly emotional, he said simply: “Well done”.
“I don’t get to wear the 22 but I get to wear the No. 1,” Erin added.
“Oh good girl,” Greg added. “Did they vote that in?”
Phillips was voted captain, while Ange Foley was named vice-captain and Hannah Dunn, Gemma Houghton and Justine Mules also made up the leadership group.
But he couldn’t hold the emotion back rubbing his eyes, saying: “This is a shock”.
He then joked: “Are they sure you’re not too old?”
“Pretty special, huh?” Erin said.
“Well done, well done,” Greg said. “Well, it doesn’t matter what number you wear, I’m proud of you.”
They were lovely scenes and Erin also spoke about letting her dad know in the press release from the club.
“My dad always said to me the only thing better than playing for this club is being captain of this club and, he was right,” Phillips said.
“Telling him the news that I had been named captain was a very special and emotional moment for both of us.
“I’m so excited to be following in his footsteps and can’t wait to lead the team onto the ground for the first time. It will be yet another special moment for this group and for Port Adelaide.”
The 37-year-old Erin has had an incredible athletic career, having started as a basketball star and winning the WNBA twice.
She also won a World Championship gold for Australia in 2006, playing in two Olympic Games, including winning silver in 2008, and won 2006 Commonwealth Games gold.
She instantly made an enormous impact in the AFLW after retiring from basketball in 2017.
But in joining Port Adelaide for its first season in rugby league, Erin told Howie Games podcast with commentator Mark Howard being able to play for the Power was like going full circle.
“It was pretty emotional,” she said. “I reckoned the whole build up to deciding whether to stay at the Crows or go to Port Adelaide was very emotional. It was emotional for him. As a father, he was more concerned about me and just wanting me to make a decision and feel comfortable with it and then get on with life.
“When I told him, he obviously was ecstatic because it was Port Adelaide. He would have been just as happy if it was the Crows to be honest. I think he was just so relieved because he knew how hard a decision it was for me and now that I had made a decision and could just focus forward. He was absolutely pumped.
“I think the Port Adelaide part will hit him a little closer to when we run out for the first game. Running out the exact same race as he ran out.
“I’d be hanging over the fence trying to get a high-five from him and his teammates. It’s unbelievable to think I play for Port Adelaide, a team I was pretty much born into. It still blows my mind.”