Almanac Teams: The Mighty Emma-Kates

If you peruse the most popular baby names from the 1990s, you’ll see the decade-long dominance of Emily, the resurgent Emma and Caitlyn (and Caitlin and Kaitlyn and Kaitlyn), with Kate and Katherines an evergreen favourite. Therefore, the AFLW should be brimming with footy players called Em or Kate. Out of 242 AFLW listed players in 2018, there were a remarkable 7 Emmas, 2 Emilys and 10 Katherine/Catherines with a pair of Caitlyn/Kaitlyns. Honestly, I expected a few more Emilys, but there you go.


Of these Emma-Kates, we have 5 All-Australians and two club captains. Inspired by such outstanding pieces of reportage as Brown’s Browns by Dave Brown, I was struck by a remarkable thought: given the lists and the talent available you could create a super AFLW team out of women named Emma, Emily or derivatives of Katherine/Catherine.


Here are the rules:


  1. Each player must be an Emma, Emily, Catherine, Katherine or a derivative of the aforementioned.
  2. Each player must be AFLW listed for the 2018 season.


Thus using this simple formula I have created a team to envy. A team to inspire. A team for Ems and Emmies and Katies and Kates everywhere. One for the Kaths and the Kaits and the Cates.  A team that every little Emmylou would love. This is this kind of left-field, utterly impractical thinking that has made me the writer I am today so here we go with Emma-Kate Moneyball!*



Theme songs: She Caught the Katy (Blues Brothers version)
Emmylou – First Aid Kit

Mascot/Symbol: A footy player in silhouette with her hair in a top-knot


F                 Emily McGuire (Freo)        Kate Shierlaw (Carl)                       Kaitlyn Ashmore (BL)


HF             Kate McCarthy (BL)            Katie Brennan(WB)                         Emma Swanson (GWS)


C                Katie Loynes (Carl)              Emma Kearney (WB)                      Emily Bates (BL)


HB            Katherine Smith (Melb)       Kate Lutkins (BL)                           Emma Zielke (BL)


B               Emma Grant (Coll)               Kate Gillespie-Jones (Carl)            Emma Mackie (WB)


Ruck: Emma King (Coll)


Interchange from: Kate Hore (Melb), Emma Humphries (Melbourne), Emma Pittman (BL)

Caitlyn Edwards (Coll), Catherine Phillips (Melb),  Katie-Jayne Grieve (Carl)



Emily McGuire (Freo) – The very definition of  an exciting forward, McGuire kicked two pretty special goals during her AFLW debut over in Perth this year. Only 19 years old, there’s plenty of football ahead for this Swan Districts recruit.

Kate Shierlaw (Carlton) – A bit of a project player for the Blues, Shierlaw only played 4 games in 2018. Shierlaw has had some success as a backup ruck and would fill this role nicely for first choice ruck Emma King. Her nickname should be Norder. Think about it.

Kaitlyn Ashmore (Brisbane) –  One of Brisbane’s many classy on-ballers, Ashmore is an athletic outside player with a big engine. One of the few players to have an acceptable nickname, “Kashy” could become a “Converter” when she makes the shift between the wing and resting in the forward pocket to hopefully snag a couple of goals.

Half- Forwards

Kate McCarthy (Brisbane)  – One of the fastest players in the AFLW (she ran 100m in 12.06 at the Pan Pacific Games as a junior), McCarthy breaks the lines and makes defenders very nervous. Check this out, for starters. I would play McCarthy in a bit of a lurking opportunist role, hovering over the back of the pack for that quick ball into open space.

Katie Brennan, Captain (WB) – The captain of the Dogs (and Co-Captain of the Mighty Emma-Kates),  is one of the smoothest and strongest players I’ve ever seen. Quick, strong, with a booming right boot, Brenny really is the complete package. Injuries and a controversial suspension have cruelled her first two seasons, but with an ankle reco complete, KB will be hard to beat in 2019. Brennan averages more than a goal a game in the AFLW and she has a tremendous fitness base. Additionally, KB can sidestep an opponent like a politician avoiding a question: with ease. A real leader on and off the field, an injury-free Brennan is the centre half-forward dreams are made of. If your dreams involve winning football games.

Emma Swanson (GWS) – Starting Swanson in the forward line is a bit of a luxury, really. Swanson is a contested possession queen, more than capable of getting her own ball. Swanson also excelled in her debut season at metres gained. She would be switched in and out of the midfield and also would be handy as a rebounding defender. I’ve only ever seen her playing on telly where she appeared to be only about 20 centimetres tall. I’m sure she’s much taller in real life. I hope.


Katie Loynes (Carlton): In a dirty year for the Bluebaggers, Loynes was the standout player, never lowering her colours despite her team’s woeful form. Loynes is a hard-tackling tough as nails mid with courage to spare. One of the older players in this Mighty Emma-Kates squad, Loynes’ cool head and experience would be invaluable to the team. Obviously, her nickname should be “Chop”.

Emma Kearney, Captain (WB): Kearney took all before her this year. EK won a premiership, the AFLW Best and Fairest award and was the competition’s leading possession getter. Kearney also had the most inside-50 possessions (tied with Melbourne’s Elise O’Dea) and the third-most contested possessions. A bustling ball-magnet and play-maker, Kearney possesses a competitive streak a mile wide and is not adverse to a bit of a chat and a niggle. Emma Kearney is a dream midfielder, a player to build a team around. Also, fun fact, Emma Kearney ran down Mighty Emma-Kate (and future NMFC) teammate Kaitlyn Ashmore to kick the sealer in the 2018 AFLW Grand Final. Clearly, this fact is less fun if you’re a Brisbane Lion.

Emily Bates (Brisbane) – A supremely silky left-footer,  Dancing Emily Bates also had the second-most clearances in the AFLW in 2018, just behind centre bounce queen, Daisy Pearce. Bates has the knack of picking the right option.  A Rolls Royce of a player. I watched Batesy absolutely carve up the Blues on a lovely summer’s evening at Princes Park this past season. At least, it was lovely for Emily, not so much for any Carlton players or supporters.


Katherine Smith (Melb): At still only 19 years of age, there’s plenty of improvement left ahead for Smith. A captain of the Vic Metro Youth Girls team, Smithy has a real footy brain and usually makes good decisions with the ball. It’s also really good to have a Smithy in the team, because then you can make some really good Gavin and Stacey references. My fave would have to be “Oh. Smithy. What’s occurring?”

Kate Lutkins (Brisbane): The lynch-pin of the Mighty Emma-Kates’ defence, Lutkins had a stellar 2018 capped by a remarkable performance in the Grand Final. Lutkins took the second-most marks in the competition and led the pack in rebounds from her defensive 50. Lutkins also had the third-most possessions in the league. Lutkins is tall enough to play against any key forward. Lutkins is an absolute star. Her nickname should be Shoppie after Shopkins as a play on her last name and as a tribute to the Shopkin toy craze played out in primary school recess swap-meets circa 2016.

Emma Zielke (Brisbane): Silky Zielke is yet another Emma-Kate from the Lions. Brisbane captain Zielke could also be rotated through the midfield, as they say in the classics. Zilks plays tall and more than half of her possessions come from contest. Her nickname should be “EZ like Sunday Morning”, or Sunday for short.


Emma Grant (Collingwood): The very model of team-oriented player, Grant rated above average for spoils in the 2017 season. Reliable, and willing to sacrifice her game to tag opponents. Grant should also be known as Granty and Example after her general demeanor and her initials, EG.

Kate Gillespie-Jones (Carlton): At 179cm tall, Gillespie-Jones has been used both forward and back in her two seasons with the Blues. In 2018, she did well at getting the contested ball and made good decisions with the ball in her hands. A really good prospect. It’s also key to have a couple of double-barreled named players in the team. Thanks to Carlton for supplying them both (see the interchange bench).

Emma Mackie (Western Bulldogs): Mackie was the victim of the Dogs’ settled backline in 2018, unable to break into the team on a regular basis. Mackie is the Captain of the  VFLW Hawks and tough and strong in every contest. Nickname should be “SuperMac”, but it probably isn’t.


Emma King (Collingwood): After a stellar 2017, King was quieter by her standards in 2018. Arguably the outstanding mobile ruck in the competition, King had the fourth-most hitouts in 2018, but many more kicks than any other of the top 10 rucks, underscoring her value to any team. Emma King also had 13 inside 50s. Part of a dream centre bounce combination. Also, her nickname should be King Queen, but again, it probably isn’t.

Champion Data 2017 Ratings


Elite Katie Brennan, Emma Kearney (WB)
Above Average Emily Bates, Emma Zielke, Kate Lutkins (Bris)
Emma Grant (Coll) Emma Swanson (GWS)

2018 and 2017 Club Champions and Runners Up

Kate Lutkins Brisbane Best and Fairest Winner (2018)
Katie Loynes Carlton Best and Fairest (2017 Joint Winner with Breann Moody)
Emma Kearney Western Bulldogs Best and Fairest (2018 and 2017 joint winner with Ellie Blackburn)
Emily Bates Brisbane Best and Fairest (2017)
Emma Zielke Brisbane Best and Fairest Third Place (2017)


2017 Emma Kearney, Emma King, Emily Bates
(Interchange: Kate McCarthy)
2018 Emma Kearney, Kate Lutkins
(Interchange: Emily Bates)

So many Emmas, so many Kate, a pair of Emilys and a brace of K/Caitlyns. Such is the Mighty Emma-Kates. A magnificent squad of AFLW players, a team of women with nothing in common except a love of footy, a name and an era. Which is quite a bit to have in common, actually. 

Go the Mighty Emma-Kates!

* I’ve watched the movie Moneyball *and* I’ve read the book. I know this is not really how this works. But let me have this. I’m running low on jokes and Barnaby Joyce’s latest high-wire act of breathtaking hypocrisy has overloaded my irony chip.



See our other Almanac Novelty Teams here


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About Jackie Lynch

North Melbourne fan by birth, but Bulldogs for the AFLW and Darebin Falcons for the VFLW. I am a high school teacher in the Mighty West and a parent of two kids. Other interests include history, reading, running slowly and the Facebook Page Shit Brick Fences of Melbourne.


  1. Rick Kane says

    Terrific Almanac team JL. That’s a fairly formidable line-up. And let’s hope there’s not a stand-off between the Kates and Ems because the Ems hold the cards. Having said that Katie Brennan is as good a footy player who has laced up in the last few years, so maybe the Kates hold the cards. So conflicted.

    Love your summary for each player as well.


  2. Dave Brown says

    A truly formidable team, Jackie (and good to see the South Australian influence of having the forwards at the top). Sadly my Crows lack in the Emma/Kate department, Eloise about as close as we get. Perhaps that explains our (gentle) slide down the ladder in 2018. However, the state U18s have a Katelyn and an Emma so perhaps things are looking up.

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Love it Jackie. Great team. The Emmas just shade it I reckon due to the towering Emma King in the ruck. Due you think Emma was inspired by the renewed interest in Jane Austen in the 1990s? Kate variations have stood the test of time due to royal associations. Kathy/Cathy is a popular variation in many Greek families. Cheers

  4. Jackie Lynch says

    Cheers all!

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