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Gillespie tons up

Saturday, 11th May, 2019

Sarah Gillespie, shown in action in the 2017 grand final, will play her 100th game today. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan Sarah Gillespie, shown in action in the 2017 grand final, will play her 100th game today. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan

By Tyler Hannigan

A week after celebrating their first 100-game women’s player, the South Football Club has a second as Sarah Gillespie joins the centurions club.

Since debuting in 2013, Gillespie has been a constant in South’s side, shouldering much of the ruck load and remains a vital part of the Roos’ setup.

Like many of the women’s players from the early years of the competition, Gillespie was short on actual football experience but found her way to South through workmates and overcame some early trepidation about the game.

“I grew up playing basketball,” she said. “I’d watched plenty of AFL on TV but I’d never played, I had no idea what I was doing.” 

“I started my first teaching job at the time and one of my workmates played for South the previous year and asked me to play,” Gillespie added. 

“I wasn’t keen on the idea of playing footy and being tackled, but agreed to go out and give training a go but there was no way I was stepping foot on that oval to play. 

“They convinced me to play the Lightning Cup and after that I just fell in love with the sport and never looked back.”

The incredibly durable Gillespie said that the premiership success, and her performances on the big day, are some of her highlights of her first 99 games. 

“The biggest highlight would have to be the 2016 and 2017 grand final wins,” she said. “Others would be best on ground medals in the 2017 and 2018 grand finals and playing in the 2017 and 2018 representative teams. 

“I love everything about the sport, the competitiveness of game day, the team and club atmosphere, just everything really.

“I definitely never thought I’d play 100 games, didn’t even think I’d play one,” Gillespie added. 

“But since starting, I’ve only missed one game and I hated sitting on the sideline for that one game so I did everything I could to not have to miss anymore.”

Gillespie lists South premiership captain Bec Fraser as one of her favourite teammates because of her toughness and competitiveness, and she enjoys her matchups with North’s Ebony Watson.

Playing in the ruck can take a toll on thes body but there’s no retirement plans just yet, said Gillespie.

“I’ll play as long as my body lets me,” she said. “It’s been a bit of a slow start to the year with the body breaking down but I’ll go as long as I can.”

Gillespie will run out for her 100th game today at the Jubilee Oval with South looking for their first win of 2019 against the undefeated Robins.

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