Hawthorn has secured the signature of AFLW player Pepa Randall ahead of the 2018 VFLW season and, in doing so, brought the Randall family name back to Hawthorn.
The 22-year-old, who currently plays for the Giants in the AFLW, grew up supporting the Hawks after hearing stories and seeing photographs of her grandfather and late great grandfather in the brown and gold guernsey.
Trevor Randall played for the Hawks in 1960, while Viv Randall was a successful wingman who notched up 73 games during the ‘30s.
“There’s a lot of family association with Hawthorn,” the youngest of the Randall footballers said.
“It’s always been a little bit of a family dream to pull on the brown and gold.”
“When I was trying to decide which team to play for, he [grandfather, Trevor] said he’d support me which ever club I chose, but I think he’s pretty stoked with how things have turned out.
“I’ve got a few uncles and aunties who are pretty excited too.”
Focusing on athletics and soccer during her childhood, it wasn’t until her late teens that Randall set her sights on AFL.
“When I finished high school, I came across a photo of some friends playing football,” she said.
“At that stage, I didn’t even know that women’s footy existed at all.
“I went down to training one day and from then on, just got hooked and wanted to play at the highest level possible.”
After the Eastern Devils left the competition at the end of 2017, Randall was on the search for a new VFLW home.
In the end, the decision to come to Hawthorn was one of clarity, given her ancestry and connections to the club.
“Coming back down from Sydney, I was a free agent in Melbourne for the first time in a few years so my options were open,” she said.
“I had that connection with Hawthorn, and then outside of that, there’s obviously a few Giants’ girls who are coming down to play with the Hawks, as well as a few Eastern Devils girls coming across.
“It will be great to be playing with lots of familiar faces.”
Randall started her AFLW journey with the Demons, drafted via Pick 121 in the 2016 draft.
An ill-timed injury kept her sidelined for the entire season, before a trade to the Giants ahead of 2018 saw her fortunes change.
“I did a pretty serious ankle injury that ruled me out for the inaugural season which was extremely disappointing,” she said.
“Come the end of the season, I was traded to the Giants which was a bit of surprise, but I didn’t really have any doubts or worries about it.
“I’ve absolutely loved it up there, it’s been awesome fun and it is an incredible club to be involved in, so I’m really happy with that move.”
Randall played in all seven of the Giants’ 2018 hit outs and was a consistent pillar in defence.
As to what players inspired her game style? There are a couple of names that spring to mind for the young utility.
“Cyril Rioli was always a favourite player of mine growing up.
“Particularly when I was playing in the half forward line, I liked to base some of my game off him because I like to run and create space.
“But moving into more of a defensive role during the past season while I’ve been at the Giants, I tended to watch Shaun Burgoyne a bit more and learn from him.
“So Cyril was my childhood favourite player and probably always will be, but I’ve definitely become a bit more affiliated with some of the defenders.”
Hawthorn’s VFLW side will play its second practice match this weekend against Carlton, before kicking off its 2018 campaign against Essendon on the 6th of May at Windy Hill.
Trevor Randall runs out for the Hawks during the 60s.