Former teammates are paying tribute to Heather Anderson as the AFL community continues to come to grips with the news of the Adelaide Crows premiership winner’s shock death.
The football world was left stunned after the news of Anderson’s passing was revealed on Monday night.
Watch every match of the AFLW Season LIVE on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
The beloved footy star was found dead at an army barracks in Perth on Sunday morning, according to a well-established Australian Veteran Community page that was created in 2018 to support struggling troops.
Her death has sparked an important conversation about military mental health.
Anderson was a member of the inaugural Crows AFL side in 2017 – one year after she was picked up with the club’s second pick, 10th overall, in the 2016 Draft.
The Northern Territory-based player had immediate success as part of the Crows, playing eight games and winning the inaugural AFLW premiership.
But in the grand final, she suffered a dislocated shoulder which required a second surgery on her right shoulder within a year.
Because of her injury, Anderson was delisted by the Crows and was not redrafted. Soon after she announced her indefinite retirement from the game.
It didn’t stop Anderson from making an indelible mark on fans and those she played with however.
She had become a cult star for her distinctive pink headgear, which she explained was so her vision-impaired mother could spot her.
Current Crows captain Chelsea Randall, who is one of seven current Crows from the 2017 grand final win preparing to play the Lions in the AFLW preliminary final on Friday night, took to social media, writing it “doesn’t seem real that you’re gone”.
“Selfless, courageous, hard working and one of the all time greats. A TRUE ultimate teammate and the kindest human you would ever meet,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I feel so fortunate that footy brought our lives together. To call you a mate, and to have shared in so many special memories. I’ll miss you so much buddy.
“Our deepest condolences to Head’s family and friends.
“Rest In Peace Heads. Love you m️ate.
“Thank you to those who have reached out in support.”
Channel 7 commentator Abbey Holmes, who played alongside Anderson in 2017, posted: “Shattered. You were the ultimate professional. The ultimate teammate. You will be greatly missed @heads_headland !! RIP Ando #true xx”.
Fellow former Crow Talia Radan also shared her heartbreak.
“Our great friend and teammate. It was a privilege to call Heather that,” she wrote on Instagram.
“Our memories and connection began in AFL Canberra at the Belconnen Magpies when Heads would run up Mt Ainslie for a warm-up, through to memories in NSW/ACT State teams and numerous drives up and down the Hume Highway CBR-SYD. Best of all was the excitement of being drafted to the same club, our childhood team, @crowsaflw. The 2017 bond shalt never be broken.
“Forever a premiership player. What a time on this earth she led. We will all miss Heads.”
AFLW legend and now Port Adelaide captain Erin Phillips shared a tribute on Instagram.
“Heart Broken beyond words,” she wrote.
“One of the best to play along side but an even better person off the field! Rest In Peace Heads.
“You’ll be missed by so many.”
Former teammate and now Hawthorn player Sarah Perkins took to social media in tribute, posting a photo of Anderson with the caption “family forever” and three love hearts in the Crows colours.
She later added: “The ultimate teammate & friend! A bond that will never be broken.
“A reminder to check on your mates because you never know what they are going through & that if you need help reach out!
“Rest easy Ando we will miss you”.
In a statement on Monday, AFLW boss Nicole Livingstone expressed her sympathy to Anderson’s family and friends, calling the former star a “much-loved and respected teammate”.
“Words cannot express the deep sadness among the AFL and AFLW community at this time. Our sincerest condolences are to the Anderson family,” Livingstone said.
“On behalf of the AFL, I would like to express my deepest compassion to Heather’s family, friends and colleagues.”
The Crows also posted a statement after the news broke.
“The Adelaide Football Club is deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Premiership player Heather Anderson. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends,” it read.
AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh said in a statement: “All at the AFLPA extend our deepest sympathies to Heather’s family, friends and all of those people who worked and played alongside her at Adelaide.“This is a terribly sad time and we will offer whatever services and support Heather’s family, former teammates and the Adelaide Football Club may need during this tough time.”
Story Credit: news.com.au