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TLL’s W-League Team of the Decade

Goalkeeper: Lydia Williams
If you’re a follower of the W League you are no doubt familiar with the dulcet tones of Lydia Williams absolutely lambasting her defence. Amassing 3 championships and 3 W League best goalkeeper awards with this decade, she has been a stalwart in goals for some of the leagues most successful teams in Canberra United and Melbourne City.
Clare Polkinghorne
Polks has been a huge part of any success that the Brisbane Roar has found since the W League began. With 115 appearances (and 13 goals!) she has been the glue that has held the Roar together. She is one of only two players (the other being Sam Kerr) to win the Julie Dolan medal twice. Part of a championship winning team once this decade, and a premiership winning team twice, her longevity and reliability means that she more than earns her place in the heart of the best W League defence this decade. 
Steph Catley
What greater sight is there in football than a full back bombing up the wing? Catley has embodied this more than any other W League player this decade. She burst onto the scene at Victory as a young gun, where she won a championship. Upon the inception of Melbourne City into the W League, she formed a large part of why their all round threat was too hard to handle during their three-peat. Given her age, she could well be on this list for the next decade as well.
Alanna Kennedy
If you were a W League coach wanting to sign a winning defender this decade, you would sign Alanna Kennedy. A grand final winner with Sydney FC and Melbourne City, as well as a premiership year with Perth Glory, she brings a winning mentality with her that is hard to rival (notwithstanding her year at the Wanderers). Solid in defence, confident with the ball at her feet and a handy direct free kick taker, she is the complete package in defence and it’s little wonder her career has had the success and longevity that it has.

Ellie Brush
Similar in a lot of ways to Polkinghorne, she was a brick wall in an incredibly successful team – in her case, in the green of Canberra United. Almost ever present this decade she amassed 101 appearances and 17 goals for Canberra United. A premiership and championship captain, it appeared like her career had been cut short by a foray into AFLW in 2017 before being resurrected this season by signing with Sydney FC.
Teresa Polias
The holding midfielder of our, and Sydney FC’s, dreams. She is the leading appearance maker in W League history. Nothing exemplifies her importance more than the fact that she played every single minute of the Sky Blues grand final winning season in 2012/13. She played similar roles in every season for them this decade. Notwithstanding her breakthrough spell with the Mariners last decade, she has been a devoted servant to the W League’s most successful club, and a pivotal reason for that success. She is tough tackling and barely puts a foot wrong. A crucial player in any squad.
Katrina Gorry
After starting her career at Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory, Gorry established herself at Brisbane Roar from 2012 onwards. She is the engine room – she never stops running. The team is immeasurably better with her in it, in ways that don’t necessarily correspond to statistics. A premiership winner with the Roar in some of the most consistent teams the W League has seen, she will be desperate to add a championship trophy to her resume.
Jess Fishlock
Has any single player affected a competition in the way that Fishlock has? She played in a grand final every season that she was here, losing her first but winning the next 4. She was talismanic, first for Melbourne Victory and then for their rivals Melbourne City upon inception. Whenever her team was in trouble, it was invariably Fishlock who appeared out of nowhere to conjure up a goal or an assist. Maybe most emblematic of her influence was City’s inability to make the final 4 the season after her departure. Captain, coach, top goalscorer – Fishlock did it all. We really were blessed to have a player of her ability in our league.

Sam Kerr
Super Sammy Kerr. The W League’s first marquee player last season was worth every cent. The leading goalscorer of all time as well as only the second person to win the Julie Dolan medal twice (alongside Polkinghorne), there aren’t enough superlatives to describe her impact on this league on and off the field. She won a grand final with Sydney FC in 2012/13 but will perhaps regret leaving the W League having never done so with her hometown team Perth Glory, despite getting close twice. A strong contender for not only this team of the decade but player as well.
Michelle Heyman
The stats don’t lie. With 56 goals in 93 appearances for Canberra United this decade (as well as a single goal for Adelaide) Heyman was the front women for which her team pivoted on. Her standout season was 2011/12 when she won the golden boot as her team won the premiership/championship double. While she may not have ended the decade as she wanted football-wise she can look back on her career as one of the best strikers that the W League has managed to produce.
Ashleigh Sykes
The last player on this list was another key member from that golden Canberra United era. One of the top scorers ever in the W League, she linked up with Heyman to form a remarkable strike partnership that perhaps was only superseded by Kerr and Hill later in the decade. She unfortunately retired in 2018 at the age of just 26. Perhaps the greatest argument for pay parity and better conditions is the chance to see more of players like her. 

By Taryn Heddo

Featured image from By The White Line

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