She was one of the driving forces behind the Saints’ push into women’s football and now she’s back.
When St Kilda fielded a team in the 2018 VFL Women’s competition, Ali Drennan was one who stood up and took charge.
She was a joint recipient of the inaugural Southern Saints’ best and fairest award, as well as being selected in the VFL Women’s Team of the Year.
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These efforts were rewarded with a spot on North Melbourne’s list for their first season in the AFLW competition.
But today, she was back where it all began, signing on for the Saints on Day 2 of the AFLW’s Trade Period.
St Kilda is one of four new AFLW clubs who will join the competition next season and are able to sign up to 12 players before Thursday April 18.
Drennan joins young guns Ali Brown, Isabella Shannon and Molly McDonald who have been pre-listed under the AFL’s rules.
Drennan, a former college basketballer, played every match for North Melbourne in AFLW 3, adding a goal in a memorable debut.
Her consistency for the Kangaroos replicated the form she showed for the Southern Saints in 2018.
The tall midfielder averaged 22 disposals – 16 contested – as well as six clearances, eight tackles and three inside 50s in her 14 VFL games.
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Drennan said she was excited to be pulling on the red, white and black again.
“The Saints always held a close part of my heart,” Drennan said.
It was always in the back of my mind how much I loved it, but I was happy to give North a go and I had a great experience there as well, but happy to be home."
“I think I really got a feel for it [AFLW] later in the season, at the start I was a bit deer in the headlights … towards the end of the season I feel like I got the hang of it.
“I learned heaps at North which was fantastic, we had great coaches there, but I really get along with Pete [Searle] well. She’s got such a passion for the game.”
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Searle, Head of Women’s Football at the Saints, welcomed Drennan back.
“Not only is Ali a very talented footballer, she is also a quality person who is very important for the spirit of the group,” Searle said.
She proved that she was up to AFLW standard this year playing every game, she finished strongly and will be a better player for that experience."
“Ali was one of several important leaders for us in 2018, helping us build a strong culture, so to have her returning to the club is really exciting.”