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The first woman at St Kilda

How ground-breaking female director Sheena Ferguson paved the way for women in footy. - St Kilda Saints,AFLW
How ground-breaking female director Sheena Ferguson paved the way for women in footy.

Sheena Ferguson was a trailblazer in every sense of the word.

At a time where women’s involvement in the AFL – at least in any official capacity – was close to non-existent, Ferguson broke new and unprecedented ground at the Saints.

In 1988, she became the first-ever female board member at the St Kilda Football Club, in the process becoming just the second female director in the AFL, pipped only by Elaine Findlay at Fitzroy.

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In terms of long-term commitment to her football club, Ferguson stood out.

Her journey to the position of Director started in 1979, when she organised a petition seeking change within the club’s board, a move which subsequently led to Lindsay Fox being installed as president.

During the Fox years, a number of supporter groups were created; Ferguson headed up the ‘Sinners’, proving she was not a fan who would start a petition and leave it at that.

Peta Searle is the first-ever woman appointed as an assistant coach at AFL level.

In 1987, Ferguson successfully stood for a place on the board where she remained until 1996, reflecting a close involvement with the club for nearly 20 years.

She was made a life member of the St Kilda Football Club in 1991.

2019 sees Jennifer Douglas become the club’s newest female director, joining a long line of women that began with Ferguson.

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When the pioneer started that petition back in 1979, she could not have anticipated the astronomical growth in women’s involvement in football that was to come.

The Saints would go on to have appointed the most female board members in the league, as well as the first-ever female assistant coach in the AFL – Peta Searle.

And in 2020, after 147 years of existence, the famous red, white and black and St Kilda crest will finally adorn the guernseys of women.


Sheena Ferguson (1988-1996)

Judy Mann (1996-1998)

Susan Taylor (2002-2003)

Danni Roche OAM (2012-)

Liz Dawson (2014-2018)

Jennifer Douglas (2019-)