Fans erupt as Ash Barty handed incredible AFL grand final honour

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Ash Barty, pictured here at a Richmond Tigers game in the AFL finals.
Ash Barty has attended Richmond's finals games over the last few weeks. Image: Channel 7

Ash Barty will present the premiership cup to Richmond if her beloved Tigers win the AFL grand final on Saturday.

In a move that’s divided opinion among footy fans, Richmond announced Barty as their potential cup presenter for this weekend’s season decider.

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Queensland local Barty - who is Richmond's inaugural AFLW member - has been a constant presence in the crowd at the Tigers’ two finals this month at Metricon Stadium and the Gabba.

If the Tigers win their third flag in four years, she will follow Matthew Richardson (2017) and Maureen Hafey (2019) in presenting the cup to coach Damien Hardwick and captain Trent Cotchin.

Former Geelong captain Ian Nankervis will present the cup to coach Chris Scott and captain Joel Selwood if the Cats win.

“I was surprised and very honoured when (Richmond president) Peggy (O'Neal) asked me to present the cup,” Barty said on Tuesday.

“I know there are many other Richmond people who would normally do this but given the circumstances I am very grateful for the opportunity.

“I wish the boys all the best for Saturday and very much hope I have the chance to be out there when the siren goes celebrating another Richmond premiership.

“I am a long-time fan of the Tigers and so proud to be associated with the Club. I trained at the Club for several years with a lot of the boys and have loved watching the Tigers on my travels, supporting them has been a constant source of enjoyment for me on the road.

“I have a huge admiration and respect for the Club on and off the field, what they have achieved over the last decade is incredible.”

Ashleigh Barty, pictured here warming up with an AFL ball before a tennis match.
Ashleigh Barty is often seen warming up with an AFL ball before her tennis matches. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

AFL fans divided over Ash Barty selection

Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said that the Tigers were delighted with their choice.

“We are so proud to call Ash one of our own and of all the incredible things she has achieved in her life,” Gale said.

“Not only has Ash always supported us, but she is also someone that displays the values that embody our Club.

“If we are fortunate enough to be able to see Ash present the Premiership Cup on Saturday night, she will be representing all of our wonderful members, supporters and the entire Tiger Army.”

While the Barty announcement was largely celebrated in the AFL world, some thought a former player was more deserving of the honour.

Barty, who won the 2019 French Open women’s singles and the 2018 US Open women’s doubles, has eight WTA singles titles and 10 WTA doubles titles to her credit.

Nankervis played 325 games and kicked 203 goals for the Cats between 1967 and 1983, winning their best and fairest three times.

In 2001, Nankervis was named in Geelong’s team of the century and he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

with AAP

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