(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Clare Polkinghorne hits historic century milestone

LONG ROAD TO 100

At the ripe age of 19 she became a foundation player. Clare can remember the days when the Queensland Roar dominated women’s football and how she was apart of the very first grand final that saw Kate McShea lift the inaugural W-League Premiership and Championship trophy.

“I haven’t really thought about it to much until it was mentioned this week that it was my 100th,” Polkinghorne said.

“It’s just like any other game and most important for us this week is to get three points.”

“We always love playing at Suncorp, it’s a pretty special ground for Queensland sport and to be out there for the 100th game is pretty special as well,” she said.

The 27 year old has seen all the changes the W-League has gone through over the last nine seasons. She has seen matches go from being played at suburban stadiums to playing at Suncorp Stadium, from being shown on ABC to being broadcasted on Fox Sports as well.

While there is still a long way to go to get the W-League to the standard players and fans want it to be at, she believes there has already been big changes in the competition since season one.

“I think the biggest change in the quality of players playing in the league both Australian players and international players as well,” she said.

“In the last few seasons we have attracted some really big names internationally and the more higher quality players we can get into the league the better for everyone.

“Were getting a little bit more exposure which is good so if we keep continuing to go along that way, we are looking good for the future.

“We want to get to a point where females can play their sport professionally and all year round in this country,” she said.

One of her highlights in the W-League to date would be the introduction of Melbourne City in last season’s competition as they raised the standards and set a tone for the rest of the W-League.

“Since then I think clubs have started to try and match those standards and some are even aiming higher which is really good,”

“If we can get that as the baseline standard rather than the exception the league will just continue to grow and players will continue to grow.”

While Melbourne City may have been a highlight, she had a bit more trouble choosing between her most memorable moments with the Brisbane Roar.

“Anytime you win a championship and a premiership is pretty special, they are definitely up there but just…definitely the championships,” she laughed.

Her first match was a 4-1 win against Adelaide United and eight years, two months and 13 days after that debut, Brisbane Roar captain and Matildas’ co-captain Clare Polkinghorne will become the first player to reach 100 games in the W-League.

For many who follow the W-League or women’s football, Polkinghorne has become a name synonymous with the W-League.  Much like the player herself, her presence has been a steady but influential one.

99 GAMES RECORD

A PLAYERS' PLAYER

Polkinghorne is the type of player young players look up to and one that parents would like their daughters to become.  She is professional, strong willed, responsible, organised, intelligent and all round an fantastic footballer. She has set a standard for defenders and rarely has she fall below her own standard.

Polkinghorne is also the type of teammate most players love with her leadership, support and dependability.

Current and past teammates say it best:

Amy Chapman

I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than Polks to receive this honour. She has been a standout since the W leagues inception – the ultimate professional, leader and good friend. Congrats Polks!

Katrina Gorry

Polks – a true leader of our game. Her passion and pure love for the sport is something so special. We, at Brisbane Roar, have been so lucky to have a player like Clare leading us for 100 games and I’m sure there will be many more to come. 

Tameka Butt

Celebrating 100 w-league games is a massive achievement and to be the first to do it speaks volumes of Polks’s character and ability. Polks is a tribute to the game and an influential leader to the lucky ones that surround her. It is a great honour to take the field beside her. 

Kate McShea, former Brisbane captain

Clare is one of those players who you know will give 100% every time she takes the field. She will put her body on the line to win any 50/50 ball every time without hesitation. She is a very humble and genuine person who I feel privileged to have played along side of. She is the heart and soul of the Brisbane Roar team and is a brilliant role model to anyone watching the W league or Matilda’s. She shows what you can achieve through hard work and determination. 

Alicia Ferguson, former Brisbane teammate

Well firstly, I just want to say a massive ‘CONGRATULATIONS’ to Polks on being the first player to reach 100 W-League games.  What a bloody legend!

Despite being old & forgetful, I can actually still remember when Polks first came to train with our QAS squad & the main reason was because I didn’t hear a peep out of her for about 6 months. 

However, everyone who knows Polks, also knows that she doesn’t need to be the loudest to make herself known. And that’s something that I respected in her from day 1.

I immediately knew that Polks had the dedication, attitude and commitment to be successful, so it really doesn’t surprise me that she’s the first to reach this amazing milestone. 

Another thing that stood out to me about Polks is that she’s always had a really good self awareness of her strengths and weaknesses and would give absolutely everything for the team.  Polks never was and never will be a pretender, what you see is what you get. Which I love about her.

Never selfish or arrogant, always supportive and honest. 

Never rash (despite 1 or 2 tackles I’ve seen her inflict on the opposition) or shallow, always respectful and measured.

The other massive influence on Polks being such a legend is the amazing support she’s always received from her family.  There’s no “Polks” without the rest of the Polkinghorne clan, they are one and the same. 

Not only have they always been their for Polks, through the good and the bad, they’ve been there for many of us over the course of our careers.  So thanks to you all for the love and support you’ve given your daughter, her team mates and women’s football.

Polks – Congrats chick.  It was a pleasure to play alongside you, see you develop in to a quality footballer and become a great friend.

In 100 games the accolades and accomplishments have been many:

  • 2x W-League Premiership: 2008/09, 2012/13
  • 2x Championship: 2008/09, 2010/11
  • 5 Grand Final appearances
  • Julie Dolan Medal for Player of the Year: 2012/13

Congratulations Clare Polkinghorne. One of the W-League’s great players and ambassadors.

About ANGELA BACIC and ANN ODONG

ANGELA BACIC and ANN ODONG