Hannah Bowey (l) and Amy Smith

Amy Smith and Hannah Bowey are good friends, have become crucial cogs in North Melbourne's line-up and have followed similarly unconventional paths to establishing themselves in the AFLW.

Their brothers Joel Smith and Jake Bowey also happen to be teammates at Melbourne.

"I always say we go for Melbourne in the AFL, and then North Melbourne in the Women's," Hannah Bowey said with a laugh.

The two briefly crossed paths at Williamstown pre-season training ahead of the 2020 VFLW season for a few weeks until Bowey tore her ACL. 

But they weren't reunited until just before the start of AFLW season seven, when Bowey was drafted in as an injury replacement for Grace Campbell (who had torn her own ACL).

Hannah Bowey at training. Picture: NMFC Media

The 24-year-old played four games after debuting in round 10, holding her spot throughout the finals series.

"It was unreal, I just got thrown in the deep end. I think I came in three weeks before round one, and the week I came in, we played a practice match in Adelaide," Bowey said. 

"I didn't expect to play any games, let alone half-back. I'd never played half-back in my life, but the opportunity arose (throughout the season) and of course I said I'd love to play it. My usual position had been on the wing."

"We're literally the same person," Smith chipped in.

"It's funny, it's kind of weird, we're like best friends as well," Bowey said.


Smith has had her own unusual route to the top level. The first father-daughter signing at North Melbourne (father Shaun played 47 games at the Roos and 62 at the Dees), like brother Joel she grew up with a basketball focus, with football "kind of periphery" for the family.

She made the switch to local footy with Aberfeldie in 2019 and was set to play VFLW in 2020 until the cancellation of the season due to COVID-19, but was drafted regardless by the Roos with just the one season of her new sport under her belt.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 19: Amy Smith of the Kangaroos in action during the 2022 S7 AFLW Second Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Ikon Park on November 19, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)

The winger made her AFLW debut in her second season, playing six games, before firmly stamping her place in the side with 11 of 12 games last season, crowned clubwoman of the year.

"It definitely was the first season where I felt established in the team. Because of that, I was able to really play my role for the team, week in and week out, which was really exciting," Smith said.

"I think it was just a bit of experience and confidence. So I think just getting a few VFLW games into me and learning my role was a big thing for me."

It was unreal, I just got thrown in the deep end. I didn't expect to play any games, let alone half-back

- Hannah Bowey

While basketball was the focus for the Smiths growing up, footy has been the lifeblood of the Bowey family.

Father Brett played 85 games for St Kilda, his sister Belinda last year passed the 400-game mark (with a big chunk of her games coming at St Kilda Sharks) and Jake has now reached 36 games with the Demons.

"Dad was junior president at Highett, and when we were 15, me and a couple of the girls were chatting and we were saying, 'Let's do cheerleading or footy'. And I was like, 'Well, I'm definitely not doing cheerleading', so I asked Dad if we get a group of girls together if we could make a team," Bowey said.

"So we rallied our friends from local primary schools, and we played footy and then went through to seniors. I moved to St Kilda Sharks and played with my aunty Belinda, and we won a flag in 2019. 

"I tried to get into the VFL the following year, but did my knee during pre-season and then COVID hit, so I didn't really miss a game. At the end of 2020, I went down to Collingwood VFLW and played there for two years."

Smith has worked closely with line coach Brad Murphy and fellow midfielders Jas Garner, Jenna Bruton and Ash Riddell to help fast-track her footy knowledge, especially around the specialised role of the wing.

Bowey had initially started on the wing at the Roos before making her switch to half-back, but the pride in being part of such a niche but important role – particularly in 16-a-side AFLW games – remains.

"When I went back, 'Kearns' and 'Flash' (Emma Kearney and Nicole Bresnehan) were really instrumental in helping me, because I had no idea what I was doing back there. The wingers always hang out on the outside together," Bowey said with a grin.

Smith smiled and nodded in agreement.

"We're here if you need. I love running, and you get to just run up and down all day," Smith said.

"I feel like you either love it, or you hate it," Bowey finished.


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