ON FRIDAY 7 February 2020, Kerryn Harrington will run out for the first time as Carlton co-captain.
On Friday 2 February 2018, Harrington ran out for the first time as a Carlton player.
On Friday 3 February 2017, Harrington was supporting Carlton at Ikon Park in its first ever AFLW game.
But when it comes to Harrington’s first time supporting Carlton for the first time? She’s been doing that since day one.
As she puts it, she didn’t have a choice. Her mum’s family may support Essendon, but her dad and his dad are Bound By Blue.
“We saw the light and managed to follow the Blues,” Harrington told AFL Media.
“I remember as a kid travelling down from Bendigo to Melbourne and watching Carlton play from the very top row of Colonial Stadium (now Marvel Stadium), as it was back then.
“They’re my fondest memories: being as a family and hanging the scarf out the window when we won. You’d walk from the car park or wherever you were going from and there were thousands of people doing the same thing.”
Of course, this week, Harrington has the unfortunate distinction of being known as the person who hung up on Ash Barty.
But she has well and truly made her name in the AFLW competition as one of the standout defenders in the league.
There was never really any doubt about Harrington making her way as a defender since making the switch from basketball in 2017.
After all, it had been ingrained in her from an early age: not that she knew anything of it at the time.
“There were so many times throughout my childhood - my dad has two girls, me and my sister - that he would jokingly say ‘Oh, all I wanted was a half-back flanker for Carlton’. That’s all he wanted,” she said.
“I never took that personally. But that night, when I got to pull on the jumper, not as a supporter but as a player — I felt like I’d made it.
“From a family point of view, I got to make my parents proud. I got to make my family proud. I got to make myself proud.”
Harrington was named as co-captain for the 2020 season alongside fellow childhood Bluebagger Katie Loynes back in December. She’s also working during the week as a physio for Carlton’s AFL team and in the Community department of the Club.
However, all of it may never have been possible if she wasn’t at that famous first game between Carlton and Collingwood in 2017.
Arriving at the old Carlton ground to support her childhood team and friends from Bendigo, Harrington found herself wanting more.
“I was actually really jealous of these girls running around and playing a game which I grew up loving, watching and supporting. They were getting the opportunity on the national stage,” she said.
“I came away from that game and it was a line-in-the-sand moment. I went ‘I really want to actually be part of this’, and I could see the potential this game has and the influence it has on people.
“I felt as though I still needed a challenge and something to get me excited. Basketball at the time wasn’t doing that for me.
“That lockout was an unbelievable thing which people will still talk about in 10, 20 or 30 year’s time, about what happened on that first night. I’m so thankful I was there because if I wasn’t, I perhaps wouldn’t be in the position I am today.”
Harrington. Prespakis. Pound.— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) April 2, 2019
Three All-Australians and we couldn't be prouder. 💙#BoundByBlue
Harrington’s rise has been almost unbelievable in recent times, going from basketballer (she played 150 games in 10 years in the WNBL) to footballer to All Australian to captain with each passing year.
Rest assured, Carlton’s No.9 isn’t going to be resting on her laurels after a 2019 season where the Blues got so far but not far enough.
“I have such a burning passion for this football club, I felt like I was able to contribute to the history of the Club which already had such a great one,” she said.
“It was a really cool experience [playing my first game] and it’s something I don’t take for granted whenever I do pull on that jumper.”