Port Adelaide captain Erin Phillips’ soulful disclosure melts AFL

WNBA superstar Erin Phillips brought her legendary father to tears after revealing she would be the first AFLW captain in Port Adelaide.

Erin, who was a three-time Premier League player, two-time league best and fair player and two-time Grand Final winner with the Adelaide Crows, revealed she will join Port Adelaide after winning the last season’s decider..

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Erin’s father Greg Phillips was an eight-time Port Adelaide SANFL Premier League player and captain from 1991 until his retirement in 1993, before the club joined the AFL in 1997.

Greg, who was an All-Australian in 1980, played 343 games for the club and another 84 games for Collingwood in the VFL in over 18 years in top flight football.

He has also been named to Port Adelaide’s greatest team, is a life member of the club and first inducted into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame and in 2020 the AFL Hall of Fame.

So it’s safe to say that the club means a lot to him and his family.

Upon joining the club, Erin said she would wear her father’s clothes. 22 upon joining the club.

But after Greg came to the club for a photo shoot, he immediately knew that the jig was ready when number #1 came first. 1, meant for the club captain, was on the back of the jersey.

“What is this number? What’s this? Write twenty-one more numbers… plus twenty-one? Greg asked.

“Well, do you know how you said that the best part of being in Port Adelaide is being the captain?” Erin said.

“You?” Greg replied.

He immediately took her into his arms.

Clearly emotional, he simply said, “Well done.”

“I can’t wear number 22, but I wear number 22.1,” Erin added.

“Oh, good girl,” Greg added. “They voted for it?”

Phillips was elected captain and Ange Foley was named vice-captain, with Hannah Dunn, Gemma Houghton and Justine Mules also in the group of leaders.

But he couldn’t contain his emotions, rubbing his eyes, saying, “This is a shock.”

He then joked, “Are they sure you’re not too old?”

“Pretty special, huh?” Erin said.

“Well done, well done,” said Greg. “Well, no matter what number you wear, I’m proud of you.”

It was a beautiful scene, and Erin also mentioned that she told her father about it in the club’s press release.

“My dad always told me that the only thing better than playing for this club is to be the captain of this club, and he was right,” said Phillips.

“To break the news to him that I was appointed captain was a very special and emotional moment for both of us.

“I am so excited to follow in his footsteps and can’t wait to lead the team to the ground for the first time. It will be another special moment for this group and for Port Adelaide.”

Erin, 37, has had an incredible athletic career, starting as a basketball star and winning the WNBA twice.

She also won World Championship gold for Australia in 2006, having played in two Olympic Games, including winning silver in 2008, and won gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

She immediately made a huge impact on AFLW after retiring from basketball in 2017.

But after joining Port Adelaide in her first season in rugby league, Erin said: Howie games the podcast with commentator Mark Howard, who could play the Force, was like a full circle.

“It was pretty emotional,” she said. “I think the whole preparation for deciding whether to stay with the Ravens or go to Port Adelaide was very emotional. For him, it was emotional. As a father, he was more concerned about me and just wanted me to make a decision and feel comfortable and then move on with my life.

“When I told him, obviously he was ecstatic because it was Port Adelaide. To be honest, he would be just as happy if it were the Ravens. I think he was so relieved because he knew how hard it was for me and now that I had made my decision and could just focus on it. He was absolutely pumped up.

“I think the Port Adelaide game will hit him a little closer to when we run out for the first game. Runs out exactly the same race as he ran out.

“I would hang over the fence trying to get an A from him and his teammates. It’s unbelievable to think that I’m playing for Port Adelaide, the team I was almost born into. It still drives me crazy.”

Originally published as Port Adelaide captain Erin Phillips’ soulful disclosure melts AFL