THE Carlton Football Club can confirm that inaugural Game Changers Katie Loynes and Alison Downie will depart the Club.
The beloved veterans farewell IKON Park after five outstanding seasons in the Navy Blue, during which they led by example with commitment, class and brilliance.
Both recruited from Diamond Creek, Loynes and Downie were selected at picks No.110 and No.126 respectively in the 2016 NAB AFLW Draft.
From that point on they both have established stellar careers that set the benchmark for their next generation of teammates to aspire to.
Growing up a childhood Bluebagger to becoming Carlton co-captain, Loynes has had arguably as big an impact as any on the Game Changers since the AFLW competition began in 2017.
The 35-year-old played 36 games in the Navy Blue guernsey, every one of them typified by her infectious style of play; resilient, tough and physical.
Those characteristics underpinned her captaincy style which saw her lead the Club with distinction over the last two seasons, alongside Kerryn Harrington.
Loynes was the Blues’ 2018 joint Best and Fairest winner, during a season in which she was also nominated for the AFL Players’ MVP award as well as the Most Courageous award.
The skipper said she departs the Club having loved every minute of the last five seasons.
“To see what we’ve built over the last five years and how far we’ve come, it just makes me so incredibly proud,” Loynes said.
“I never took for granted how special it was to put on our guernsey every single week. It was something I’d always dreamed of doing and to now have lived that, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
“To captain this football club alongside Kez was an honour I will cherish forever. This playing group is so special to be a part of and to be able to lead them each week was an enormous privilege.”
Downie is one of only two Carlton players to have played in all 39 games for the Club since the competition’s inception.
She has been the side’s primary ruck for most of her career, fulfilling that roll with supreme consistency and professionalism.
Downie was a top-three finisher the Club’s 2017 Best and Fairest count and in 2020 was promoted to the leadership group.
The 36-year-old said she could not have asked for anything more from her football journey in the Navy Blue.
“I took a real leap of faith five years ago to leave basketball and join a football competition that until then had never existed,” Downie said.
“Fast-track to today and my time at Carlton has been nothing but enjoyable. To have played in every single game since that unforgettable first one in 2017 is an achievement I will cherish for the rest of my life.
“Thank you to all my teammates and coaches who helped me along the way and especially to our members and supporters for always being there for us.”
Interim GM of Women’s Football Brett Munro paid tribute to two of the most significant contributors in AFLW history.
“It is difficult to find the right words to sum up just how much Katie and Alison have meant to our football club,” Munro said.
“Katie has never taken a backwards step from the moment she put on that navy blue jumper. She wears her heart on her sleeve and has led our football club in outstanding fashion over the last two years.
“She has given her all for the Carlton Football Club and it is clear to see why she is, and always will be, held in high regard by her teammates, coaches and our members and supporters.
“Alison has not missed a single game in AFLW history. That signifies in itself her brilliance as a player, to back up every single week, in one of the toughest positions on the ground and to do so in such an understated and no-fuss manner.
“Off-field she is simply a quality person, of great character, who has provided terrific guidance for our younger players that are now emerging at senior level.
“We thank both players for their terrific contributions to the Carlton Football Club, what they have done in helping to establish our AFLW program has us in a great position for years to come.”