Shifting clubs: The biggest moves in AFLW history

THE AFL Trade Period kicks off in earnest on Wednesday, so thought it was a prime opportunity to take a look back at some of the biggest moves in the AFLW world. 

As the NAB AFLW competition has undergone two expansion periods, we've broadened the criteria from just trades to also include players who have moved clubs as expansion signings.


Presented with context, Emma Kearney moving from Western Bulldogs to North Melbourne was not a shock. But on the surface, Kearney was fresh off the 2018 flag and the AFLW best and fairest medal when she informed the Dogs she was moving to the Kangaroos as an expansion signing.

Kearney had long-standing connections to the club through her VFLW side Melbourne Uni, which had aligned itself with North Melbourne.

Emma creating carnage as Tigers lament

00:32 Feb 23. 2020. 4:01 PM

Emma Kearney makes the most of North's forward pressure


Small in stature, but Giant in impact, Alicia Eva may well go down as one of the club's most important trades across both the AFL and AFLW lists. Now captain, she's also had a big influence as a development coach at NEAFL level for the Giants.

Part of a three-way deal which also involved Jaimee Lambert crossing from Western Bulldogs to Collingwood, the complicated trade in 2018 actually shaped the future of the AFLW competition due to the picks involved and the players subsequently selected.

The Pies received Lambert, picks three (Chloe Molloy) and nine (Darcy Guttridge), the Giants brought in Eva and pick five (Jodie Hicks), while the Bulldogs ended up with picks one (Izzy Huntington), four (Monique Conti) and 12.

Pick 12 itself went on a merry dance (see "Mega-trade" below) and was eventually used by the Blues on Georgia Gee.

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Everyone loves a mega-trade, and while they've fallen from favour somewhat in the last year or so, the Harris trade in 2017 was a doozy.

The deal involved Carlton, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs, and saw Tayla Harris move from the Lions to the Blues and Nat Exon and Bella Ayre make the opposite trip. 

Bianca Jakobsson crossed from Carlton to Melbourne, while Deanna Berry went from the Dees to the Bulldogs, uniting with partner Ellie Blackburn. Pick 12 also went from the Dogs to the Blues, which was ultimately used on speedster Georgia Gee. 

Gee gets a slick goal assist from dextrous Harris

00:35 Mar 14. 2020. 8:24 PM

Tayla Harris' quick hands provides a sweet goal assist to Georgia Gee


Richmond was determined to enter the AFLW with a bang, and while the on-field results were far from desired, the club succeeded in building hype and connecting with a fanbase which, for the most part, had minimal AFLW knowledge. 

By targeting Bulldogs captain Katie Brennan and best and fairest Monique Conti as expansion signings, the Tigers signed high-profile players who fans instantly connected to. 

The Bulldogs have suffered from expansion signings, with Emma Kearney, Jenna Bruton (North Melbourne) and Aasta O'Connor (Geelong) also leaving in 2018.

Conti's run sets up a Bernardi goal

00:28 Mar 7. 2020. 5:35 PM

Monique Conti dashing run sets up easy goal for Christina Bernardi


In all, seven players crossed directly from Brisbane to Gold Coast as expansion signings, but it was the double-whammy loss of two senior leaders in Leah Kaslar and Sam Virgo which hurt the most. 

Kaslar had been captain for the 2019 season, while Virgo had been in Brisbane's leadership group in 2017 and 2019 (missing a year while recovering from a torn ACL). Both had their reasons for leaving – Kaslar is a Gold Coast local, while Virgo had a close relationship with new coach David Lake.

Jamie Stanton was another big expansion signing for the Suns; the North Melbourne ball-winner decided to return home and finished the 2020 season as her new side's best and fairest.

Stanton with her first AFLW goal

00:30 Feb 15. 2020. 5:22 PM

Gold Coast's Jamie Stanton gathers a bouncing ball and scores her first AFLW goal and the first goal of the game

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Incredibly, two players have swapped between traditional arch-rivals Carlton and Collingwood just after winning a best and fairest award.

Nicola Stevens starred across half-back for the Pies in a middling 2017 season, but having previously worked with then-Carlton coach Damien Keeping, decided to make a switch in the competition's first ever trade. Along with pick 28 (Sophie Li), she was traded for picks 5 (on-traded to GWS), 13 (Iilish Ross) and 21 (Kristy Stratton). 

Carlton skipper Brianna Davey went the other way at the end of the 2019 season, crossing to Collingwood for picks 2 (Lucy McEvoy), 26 (Brooke Vernon), 44 (Serena Gibbs) and 59 (Courtney Jones). Picks 67 (Kaila Bentvelzen) and 82 (Alana Porter) also ended up along with Davey at Collingwood.


North Melbourne swooped on the Magpies as part of its audacious first list build, adding a quartet of high-profile players as expansion signings. 

Jasmine Garner has developed into one of the elite players in the competition, Jess Duffin had an All-Australian season in defence before sitting 2020 out due to pregnancy, while Emma King is one of the best rucks going around. The fourth Pie-turned-Roo, Moana Hope, was delisted after one season, but did kick eight goals.

Jazzy Garner dazzles for her second goal

00:26 Feb 15. 2020. 3:52 PM

Jasmine Garner shows some poise and class with a right-foot snap to put the Roos back in front


West Coast had two major expansion signings as part of its inaugural list build, Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson. Hooker had finished in the top two of Fremantle's best and fairest in all three seasons, winning in 2017, and was a two-time All-Australian midfielder. 

We hadn't seen the best of Emma Swanson at GWS; the West Australian battled a series of injuries over her three seasons at the Giants. But upon her return to Perth, Swanson was a rare positive for the Eagles, and was elected the club's first AFLW captain. 

History happens as Hooker hurriedly hooks one home

00:39 Feb 9. 2020. 1:25 PM

West Coast has its first ever goal in the AFLW thanks to star recruit Dana Hooker

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The big trade of this year saw star Elise O'Dea request a trade from Melbourne to Carlton, in search of a fresh start and wanting to work with coach Daniel Harford. 

O'Dea, a two-time All-Australian midfielder, had played 28 games for the Dees across four seasons and served as co-captain in 2019 in Daisy Pearce's absence. 

Along with young teammate Maddy Guerin, O'Dea moved to Carlton in exchange for pick 15, which was used on Eliza McNamara in October's NAB AFLW Draft.

O-Happy-Dea, Elise becomes a Blue

00:52 Aug 6. 2020. 5:11 PM

Elise O'Dea joins Carlton in huge loss for Melbourne


Richmond hit the 2020 AFLW Sign and Trade period determined to bolster its list after a very poor first season, and added four seasoned players who should straighten out the line-up.

Sarah Hosking is the most prominent of the quartet, traded in exchange for pick 15 (on-traded by the Blues for Elise O'Dea and Maddy Guerin), a priority-type pick given to the Tigers. 

A three-way trade saw Harriet Cordner and Sarah Dargan both end up at the Tigers, while Aleisha Newman moved from Melbourne to Collingwood. Richmond ended up giving up picks 31 (Abbi Moloney) and 45 (ultimately not used) for the pair.

Sarah D'Arcy crossed from Collingwood for pick 17 (on-traded to Melbourne).

Sarah Hosking becomes a Tiger

00:31 Aug 4. 2020. 12:00 AM

Tigers bolster their stocks with hard-at-it Blue

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  • Cats locking in their bookends with Phoebe McWilliams and Melissa Hickey, 2018
  • Lauren Arnell from Carlton to Brisbane, 2018
  • Kaitlyn Ashmore and Tahlia Randall from Brisbane to North Melbourne, 2018
  • Sabrina Frederick from Brisbane to Richmond, 2019
  • Libby Birch from Western Bulldogs to Melbourne, 2019
  • Didn't think we'd forget the coaches, did you? Daniel Harford from Collingwood senior assistant to Carlton senior coach (2018) and Scott Gowans from North Melbourne senior coach to Collingwood senior assistant (2020)