Those watching from afar could be excused for thinking Ali Drennan’s form this season has come from nowhere.
But those in the know are aware of the hard work behind the scenes that has culminated in Drennan compiling a career-best season in 2022.
“I’ve just been chipping away at it – it hasn’t happened overnight,” Drennan said after claiming her maiden SUNS AFLW Club Champion on Saturday afternoon.
“I haven’t grown up playing footy so every year I feel like I’m getting better with fitness and strength.
“I think if you keep sticking at it – long term work really does pay off.
“Being around a top-notch bunch of girls as well, it’s easy to go out there and have some fun and play good footy with them.”
It was an individual season to remember for the 31-year-old.
Playing all 10 matches, Drennan averaged just under 19 disposals per game and polled a club-record nine AFLW Best & Fairest votes for the season.
She was supported in the midfield by the two other AFLW Club Champion podium-finishers in Charlie Rowbottom (runner-up) and Jamie Stanton (third place).
Drennan said having trust in those players around her gave her the confidence to thrive in her own role.
“They’re amazing, all the mids this year were sensational,” Drennan said.
“As soon as you have the high calibre players around you it just makes it so much easier.
“Whenever I picked up the ball there was Stanno ready to receive it and boot it to somebody in the forward line.
“Charlie – the way she marks the ball and the way she just bulldozes through packs is just outstanding and inspires you to give a little bit more which is awesome.”
With the AFLW Club Champion accolade now to her name, the inside midfielder said her biggest focus was helping the team continue its climb up the AFLW ladder next season.
“I’m really keen for us to win some more games and become a team that others fear,” Drennan said.
“I think we can become a team that not just makes finals but really makes an impact in the finals.
“Everyone wants to win a Grand Final and I know that’s a big ask considering we didn’t make the finals this year but I think it’s possible if we believe and really trust the system and put the work in.
“I’m really excited to see where we go and we have a bunch of girls that really do have a lot of improvement in the tank ready for next season.”