Erin Phillips’ heartwarming Port Adelaide captaincy revelation melts the AFL

WNBA superstar turned footballer Erin Phillips has brought her legendary father to tears after revealing she will be Port Adelaide’s first AFLW captain.

Erin, who was three times premier, twice best and fairest in the league and twice top Grand Final winner on floor with the Adelaide Crows, revealed she would join Port Adelaide after winning last season’s decider.

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Erin’s father, Greg Phillips, was Port Adelaide SANFL premier eight times and captained between 1991 and his retirement in 1993 – before the club joined the AFL in 1997.

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

He was also named to Port Adelaide’s greatest squad, is a lifetime member of the club and is an inaugural inductee into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame and a 2020 inductee into 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 number. 22 when he joined the club.

But after bringing Greg to the club for a photo op, he immediately realized the template was in place when the No. 1.1, which is reserved for the club captain, was on the back of the shirt.

” What is this number ? What is this? Put another twenty-one number on… plus twenty-one? asked Greg.

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

” And you ? Greg replied

I immediately wrapped her in a hug.

Visibly emotional, I simply said: “Bravo”.

“I can’t wear 22 but I can wear No. 1,” Erin added.

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

Phillips was voted captain, while Ange Foley was named vice-captain and Hannah Dunn, Gemma Houghton and Justine Mules also make up the leadership group.

But he couldn’t hold back the emotion as he rubbed his eyes saying, “It’s a shock.”

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

“Pretty special, huh? Erin said.

“Well done, well done,” Greg said. “Well, whatever number you wear, I’m proud of you.”

They were great scenes and Erin also talked about telling her dad in the club’s press release.

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

“Announcing to him that I had been made captain was a very special and emotional moment for both of us.

“I am so excited to follow in his footsteps and look forward to leading the team onto the pitch for the first time. It will be yet another special moment for this group and for Port Adelaide.”

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

She also won a World Championship gold medal for Australia in 2006, competing at two Olympics, including a silver medal in 2008, and won gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

She instantly had a huge impact on the AFLW after retiring from basketball in 2017.

But on joining Port Adelaide for her first season in rugby league, Erin said Howie Games podcast with commentator Mark Howard being able to play for the Power was like coming full circle.

“It was quite emotional,” she said. “I think the whole preparation to decide whether to stay at the Crows or go to Port Adelaide was very emotional. It was emotional for him. As a father he was more concerned about me and just wanted me to make a decision and feel comfortable with it, and then go on living.

“When I told him, obviously he was thrilled because it was Port Adelaide. He would have been just as happy if it was the Crows to be honest. I think he was so relieved because he knew how point it was a tough decision for me and now that I had made a decision and could focus on the future, he was absolutely pumped.

“I think the Port Adelaide team will hit him a bit closer to when we miss for game one. Running the exact same run he ran.

“I’d be hanging over the fence trying to get a high-five from him and his teammates. It’s amazing to think I’m playing for Port Adelaide, a team I was born into. It blows my mind still.

Originally published as Erin Phillips’ heartwarming Port Adelaide captaincy revelation melts the AFL