Emma Byrne Plays 100 Games for Lane Cove Cats

Written by Lane Cove Cats

4 May 2022

Emma Byrne – 100 Games

The Cats running onto the field on the 24th April, 2022, marked not only the start of the 2022 season, but the 100th game in the blue and white hoops for Emma Olivia Byrne – the first woman to achieve that mark.

As a youngster, Emma flirted with a number of sports like swimming, little athletics and the round ball game, but when she wandered on to an Auskick field at Blackman Park in 2012, she found her true sporting love.

In the future, historians and anthropologists will write papers and convene conferences to attempt to unravel the mystery of there being no girls AFL teams in the year of our Lord 2015, but in that year, Emma became the first ever girl to register for the Lane Cove Cats Junior AFL club, playing for the “boys” U9 team.

Like anyone who breaks ceilings, not every fan was a fan, but Emma soon learnt that if the boys were going to spend time wondering how to tackle a girl, she could use that time to gain some ground and kick some goals.  So she kept turning up, season after season, playing with the boys, encouraged by the coaches at the Cats and inspired by following and meeting her favourite Giants AFLW players.

There are many great women in history who were the “first”, but recorded amongst them are the Famous Five who donned the Cats’ jumper to play a girls only game against the Newtown Swans on the 26th March, 2017.  Byrne, Ladmore, Zerna, Albin and Whowell are those names that will be etched on the walls of the Cats’ clubhouse.

But we are not here to celebrate history, we are here to celebrate Emma.  Emma who’s booming right foot punt is only outdone by her booming voice on the field.  Emma who loves coaching as much as playing, leading more than being told what to do and kicking goals more than just about anything.  Emma, who’s passion for “team”, this team, is one of the reasons that this team exists at all.

We could mention her many accolades; 2015, first registered girl at LCC; 2017, Club Person of the Year; 2018, selection in the Northern Rep Team: but life is remembered in moments and those privileged to be there will always remember  the moment when Emma kicked that goal.  The 2020 preliminary final, two minutes to go, three points down and a mark 35 metres out.  Players screamed, parents roared, pretty sure Dad shed a tear.

Congratulations to Emma on 100 games with the Cats.

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