Former Australian Rules Football coach Dani Laidley has returned to her former club and spoken for the first time at an event celebrating the club’s debt-free status, the first in more than a generation.
Although this announcement and appearance were about the financial status of a football club in inner-city Melbourne, it cannot be denied this was a significant day for sport in Australia. That a recently transitioned football coach could sit proudly amongst one of the most “boys clubs” of environments in society and be welcomed back home with open arms is an incredible step forward.
The 1996 North Melbourne premiership player and former senior coach spoke alongside most recent coach Brad Scott and current coach David Noble about the tough times of being at the club in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Laidley also paid tribute to the tribal spirit that got the club through those dark times but also made mention of her new tribe during Transgender Awareness Week.
“The club impacted my life in more ways than one,” she said. “Every Shinboner [North Melbourne nickname] supporter should be proud today.”
“It’s great being back at the North Melbourne Football Club for this important announcement of being debt-free, also on the back of Transgender awareness week, as I am proud of both of my tribes.”
Laidley, 54, was accompanied by her partner Donna at the media conference. According to the Herald Sun, they have been lifelong friends since meeting in Grade 1 at a primary school in Perth and reconnected in 2017 and have been a couple for the past five months.
Speaking about her support at the club over the years, Laidley said it was the people that made the place so special.
“What I found was North Melbourne’s greatest asset is its people,” she said.
“Personally, and on behalf of the club, I would like to acknowledge the playing group, our coaches, football support staff, the club administration, our sponsors and, most importantly, our supporters, who came along to watch us week-in, week-out
“We may not have quite made the last day in September during my time as the senior coach, but we can be very proud of the part every person played in keeping our football here at Arden Street.
“Whenever I drive past, I’m personally over the moon at where our football club is today and the very bright long-term future ahead; I’m exceptionally proud as Shinboner #826.”
As a lifelong North Melbourne supporter and a lifelong supporter of Dani Laidley throughout her career, there’s nothing that makes me more proud than to see her back home with her tribe.
Last Updated on Nov 20, 2021