K rock Football

Hickey named skipper

The 2019 Geelong AFLW leadership group (from left): Aasta O’Connor, Richelle Cranston, Mel Hickey (captain), Bec Goring (vice-captain), Renee Garing and Anna Teague. (Geelong Cats Image/David McPherson)

THE surname of arguably the most influential figure in Geelong history will again be at the front of the minds of Cats fans with Mel Hickey appointed of the club’s inaugural AFL Women’s team.

Hickey, whose grandfather is a cousin of three-time premiership coach and former star player Reg Hickey, was voted into the position by her teammates and coaching staff over the weekend, with a phone call from football boss Simone Bellears earlier this week confirming the news.

Her appointment was revealed on Thursday night. Geelong VFLW captain Bec Goring will be Hickey’s deputy, with Richelle Cranston, Renee Garing, Aasta O’Connor and Anna Teague making up a six-strong leadership group.

“(I) was probably in a little bit of shock for a while; I didn’t know what to say for a bit,” Hickey, who turns 34 on Tuesday, said.

“I called my Mum straight away, and the emotion overwhelmed me a little bit, and I got a little bit teary with her.

“So I think it started to sink in, the enormity of what it is and how much it meant to me as well.”

Hickey, who played 13 games with Melbourne across the first two seasons of the AFL Women’s competition, didn’t vocalise her captaincy ambitions.

“But in my mind, I definitely wanted to be a leader of this club,” she said.

“If it was captain or vice-captain or leadership group, I guess that was dependent on what the playing group felt.

“You don’t ever lead for the title, but how I go about things, I hope that resonates with people and influences people.”

Despite rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament in the Round 6 win over Carlton, Hickey was among Geelong’s first four signings after the Cats were awarded their full AFL Women’s licence.

She won’t play in the practice match against Carlton on January 19 but expects to be right for the historic Round 1 meeting with Collingwood at GMHBA Stadium on February 2.

“(It is) probably a little bit ahead of where we want to be; I’ve got a little bit of time up my sleeve, which is good,” Hickey said.

“I’m ticking off various contact boxes at the moment. Tuesday night I ticked off tackling someone to the ground and being brought to ground, so that was a nice little milestone.

“And the plan is next week to join in some full contact drills. Hopefully, I’ll get the yellow bib off.

“Post-Christmas I’ll be unleashed on the group with no limitations, hopefully.

“I’m feeling really good and getting more confident each session.”

Hickey admits she has spent some time envisaging what it will be like to lead Geelong out on February 2 in front of a crowd Cats officials are privately hoping will break the Victorian women’s record of more than 24,000.

“It gives me a big beaming smile just thinking about it,” she said. “There’ll be a lot of emotions running through my head and my body I’m sure at that time.

“Honour is the biggest word that comes to mind – honour and privilege.

“This group of girls is a pretty special group and to even be playing alongside them is going to be amazing.

“To be one of the leaders in that group just makes it that more extra special.

“There’ll be a moment when I finish my career that I look back on and I’m sure it will hold great significance.”

Twitter: @tom_king79