Journalist Eliza Reilly and the Melbourne Demons have one thing in common - they’ve both defied the odds to win a premiership in recent years.
Reilly won her flag with the fledgling Bull Sharks in the 2017 QWFA Division 1 competition, and she was in the media box at Optus Stadium last September when the Demons ended their 57-year AFL premiership drought.
It was a ‘pinch me moment’ for Reilly who will never forget reporting on the scenes of jubilation in Melbourne’s locker room after the grand final.
“That was a really special day. I never thought Perth would get a chance to be the centre of the AFL universe but Covid had other plans,” she said.
“The build-up was immense and the whole city got swept up in finals fever, adopting the Demons and Dogs like they were our own. The game itself was a cracker.”
Her ‘dream job’ as an AFL reporter might never have happened for Reilly if she had pursued an opportunity overseas after she graduated from Bond with a Bachelor of Journalism.
Reilly was selected from hundreds of applicants around the world to undertake an internship with AFL Europe in digital content.
Instead, she accepted a job with The Gold Coast Bulletin as a sports reporter where she gained experience covering local and national events.
“I got to report on the Gold Coast Suns' inaugural AFLW season and surf life saving became a big passion of mine,” she said.
“I never thought I would fall into something like that. I won a Clarion journalism award for my reporting on surf life saving.”
But as restrictions tightened during the pandemic, she began feeling homesick for her hometown of Perth.
Her mum encouraged her to approach The West Australian newspaper.
“I said, “mum don’t be stupid nothing will come of that, you can’t just email the sports editor of The West Australian,” she said with a laugh.
She eventually succumbed and the correspondence resulted in a new job created just for her.
“They really wanted a female writing on footy in Perth so that’s what I fell into,” she said.
“It was a bit overwhelming at first taking that next step up from a regional newsroom to a fully-fledged metro newsroom so there were a few learnings I needed to have.
“There are quite a few female sport reporters over here now, so we have become a gang because we all know some of the unique challenges we face -- not that there’s any sexism or anything like that.”
Reilly will among hundreds of industry professionals at the Women in Media conference at Bond University tomorrow and Saturday.
During her two years studying at Bond, she was part of the student reporting team who covered the event.
A highlight was interviewing Channel 10 newsreader Narelda Jacobs who was an anchor in Perth when Reilly was growing up.