Footy fanatic finally hangs up her boots, at 65
Next time someone says you are too old to do something you love, tell them about female footy fanatic Lynn Smith.
At the ripe old age of 65, the jovial Melbourne senior citizen on Saturday played her final match of footy — against women up to 33 years younger — and loved every minute.
Lynn Smith, 65, is one of Victoria’s oldest female footy players. Picture: Tim Carrafa
A women’s footy trailblazer long before it was in fashion, Ms Smith posted an advertisement in The Sun newspaper in 1979 seeking “interested girls” to play what was then a men’s game.
She was a foundation player in Victoria’s first female footy league in 1981 and watched with delight as the AFLW was born in 2016, giving women the chance to get their kicks in a way she could only dream of as a girl.
After a 34-year hiatus, Ms Smith last year returned to the field for an undefeated run of games with Melbourne Masters Lions, playing forward, back and even on a wing.
“I feel blessed at my age to have even been able to play,’’ she said.
In her swan song at City Oval in Coburg on Saturday, she kicked two late quarter goals and was mobbed with hugs from opponents, as well as teammates, as her team romped to a 45-point victory.
“The passion is embedded and once it’s there it doesn’t leave,’’ she said.
“I jumped on the bandwagon and it was so good to be part of a team again.’’
Her team strut to its fifth straight triumph on Saturday, keeping Coburg scoreless as Ms Smith laced up the boots one last time.
Lynn Smith plays her final game of footy for Melbourne Masters Lions. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Not to be outdone, Coburg fielded an even more experienced player, 69-year-old Brenda Arnell.
The mum of Brisbane AFLW star Lauren only started playing footy last year and joked she was “just getting started” as Ms Smith drew the curtain on her career.
Despite declaring “I think I’ll give up retirement” after snapping her second goal from full forward, Ms Smith said she would never stop loving the game though her playing days are numbered.
Lynn Smith after her final game of footy for Melbourne Masters Lions. Picture: Tim Carrafa
“I still want to play because I love getting out there in the fresh air and getting a kick,’’ she said.
“But I don’t want to break any bones … so reality has set in and maybe it’s time.’’
The footy tragic is glad she ignored her dad’s advice 40 years ago she would never follow in the footsteps of her Carlton heroes and play Aussie Rules.
Back then she had to travel from Bacchus Marsh to her aunty’s house in Strathmore to see if any like-minded girls had answered her ad about playing footy because her family had no phone.
Lynn Smith is chaired off after her final game. Picture: Tim Carrafa
So they organised “semi-formal, semi-competitive’’ matches that layed the foundation for the start of the Victorian Women’s Football League in 1981.
“It was kind of basic and primative back then but we still loved it,’’ she said.
“The girls have got such an amazing outlet and release now that you just didn’t have then.’’
Having played with and against women much younger over the past two years, Ms Smith said passion, not age, was the most important factor.
“I’ve never felt like the grandmother of the league … even at 65 just to be a part of a team and play footy again has been pretty good, she said.
Not that she will be far from a footy field in winter any time soon.
“I’m going to be the runner for the women’s team and do anything else they need,” she said.
“I’ve just always loved the game.”