So near and yet so far – the conference curse hit North Melbourne-Tasmania harder than any other club in 2019.
It’s all in for North this year and Gowan’s gung-ho attitude seems to be reflected in the playing group’s collective desires to win and win and win.
Gowans was also mightily impressed with North fans' membership numbers before the first bounce, with the club already breaking last season's record.
“I’m really pleased to announce that we’ve surpassed our AFLW membership of last year already, which is an amazing effort,” he told the club's website.
“It’s a commitment from you guys (our members) to us that it means a lot to you. We hold that dearly,” Gowans said.
“The players and I speak about it all the time; we are only custodians of this club that you will support all your lives.”
This former Pie knows how to kick goals and was electric for North last year; performances rewarded with representative honours at centre half forward.
Able to take grabs on the lead and dominate the high half forward area, Garner can be expected to link the formidable midfield and prolific forward line like no other in the lineup.
At the prime age of 25 and in some of the best form and fitness we’ve witnessed, don’t be surprised if Garner rips apart the best of the rest of the league.
Widely considered the most effective to employ the ruck craft in the league, Emma King remains a vital cog and beacon of excellence in the North lineup.
The All Australian and newly minted member of Sarah Black’s Top 30 AFLW Players looks set to win a lot of ball for her teammates and can go forward and kick goals on occasion too.
Kearney can do it all – a classic inside-outside mid dripping in leadership and steely determination, the well-deserved plaudits are clear from within and without clubland.
Having made the All Australian team every year, it would be brave to bet against her doing it for a fourth successive time and after having made an impassioned switch from the Bulldogs to her VFLW and now AFLW home, there’s no doubt that claiming a premiership for the blue and white remains Kearney’s most cherished footy goal – one that she remains best placed to help make a reality.
ONE TO WATCH
Though far from the only talented player to miss significant portions of the 2019 season through injury, pocket rocket Riddell’s ankle induced absence hurt her club more than most.
The former Fitzroy and Melbourne University gun impressed in her limited game time for the Shinboners and capped off her stalled year with a killer back end to the VFLW season, racking up 30-plus possessions on numerous occasions.
A fit and firing Ash Riddell walks into almost any midfield in the land and if she can help the Kangaroos deliver quality forays into the forward line while applying pressure to the opposition mids, North may just play finals in 2020 – and the 23-year-old may get an All Australian nod too.