Lee becomes third woman in history to receive AFL Life Membership

DEBBIE Lee has become the third woman in history to be awarded an AFL life membership after the late Jill Lindsay and former AFL commissioner Sam Mostyn. 

Lee, currently the Western Bulldogs' AFLW football manager, has qualified for the honour under the "Special Service to the Game" provision.

Pioneering Bulldog awarded with AFL Life Membership

03:07 Feb 5. 2020. 1:43 PM

Women's footy legend Debbie Lee is the third woman in history to receive the honour

She is one of six people to be inducted at the 2020 AGM in March, along with former Essendon and Melbourne CEO Peter Jackson, Ian Miller, Jarryd Roughead and current players Nathan Jones and Joel Selwood. 

Bulldogs footy manager Debbie Lee celebrating the 2018 AFLW Grand Final with her son. Picture: AFL Photos

Lee had a long and distinguished playing career, recording 302 VWLF (now VFLW) games for a variety of teams, including the East Brunswick Scorps and St Albans Spurs, a club which she founded.

The senior side of the latest iteration of the Spurs is now the Western Bulldogs' VFLW team.

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She won a whopping five Helen Lambert medals as the VFLW's best and fairest player, and captained Victoria on six occasions.

Off the field, Lee has been heavily involved with the development of women's football in Victoria, presiding over the VWFL board from 2004 to 2012. 

The award for best first year player in the VFLW is also named after Lee, who before crossing to the Dogs had the role of women's footy operations manager at Melbourne.

Debbie Lee in 2017, coaching Victoria in the State of Origin match. Picture: AFL Photos

She coached the Victorian side in the 2017 State of Origin match and is a current member of the AFLW Competition Committee.

AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan said the Commission congratulated each individual on their award and the game looked forward to thanking each personally again at the season launch in March for their contribution to football, both on-field as players and off-field for their service as administrators and officials.

The records for each person are as follows:

Service Qualification:

Peter Jackson 

General Manager / CEO at Essendon FC, 1996-2009.

General Manager / CEO at Melbourne FC, 2013-18.

Served as Chairman of AFL Victoria and Chairman of AFL SportReady between his club CEO roles.

Key achievements: 

Negotiated the move of Essendon FC from the MCG to Colonial (now Marvel) Stadium;

Diversified Essendon FC income streams;

Oversaw change in governance structure of Essendon FC from board of governance to board of management; 2000 Premiership year and one other Grand Final contested;

Worked with Kevin Sheedy on introduction of DreamTime game;

Formation of Bill Hutchison Foundation, which promotes childhood literacy, anti-bullying and indigenous welfare;

Partnership with Cancer Council of Victoria for Call to Arms campaign;

First sporting club in Australia to adopt a Reconciliation Action Plan in 2009;

Led turnaround in Melbourne FC financial position and on-field fortunes, with key club appointments. 

Debbie Lee 

On-field achievements:

302 VWFL games 

5 x Helen Lambert Medal for competition Best and Fairest 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 & 2001;

6 x All Australian;

16 x State games for Victoria;

6 x State Captain for Victoria;

3 x Premiership player – 1991 (East Brunswick Scorps), 2004 & 2011 (Spurs);

1 x Premiership Captain 2004 (St Albans Spurs).

Lisa Hardeman Medallist (Best on ground in Grand Final – 1991 and 2004);

7 x Club Best & Fairest;

Club Captain at St. Albans Spurs 1991-2004.

Off-field achievements:

Founder of Sunshine YCW Spurs (first team in the western suburbs) in 1993, now VU Western Spurs;

2009 Football Women of the Year – Essendon Football Club;

Debbie Lee Medal named in her honour awarded to the best player at the AFL's National Championships;

Debbie Lee Rising Star Medal named in her honour awarded to the best first year player in the VFLW;

VWFL Life Member; 

Recognised in the National Sports Museum;

Established the Spurs USA tour -  first AFL women's team to play abroad – Sept 2014;

VWFL President 2004 –2012 (playing President);

Board Member - Women's Sport & Recreation of Victoria;

St. Albans Football Club (Founder/Executive board member);

Member of the AFL Victoria's Strategic Advisory group 2013;

Member of the Transition Working Group – AFL Victoria;

Senor Coach St Albans Spurs; 

Member of AFL Women's Advisory Group;

Senior Coach State of Origin AFLW 2017;

Women's Football Operations Manager, Melbourne Football Club ;

General Manager, Western Bulldogs Football Club;

Member of AFL Women's Advisory Group ;

Member of AFLW Competitions Committee – current. 

Ian Miller 

1967 – 1973 Perth Football Club – 132 games (runner-up fairest and best 1971);

1968 – Perth WAFL Premiership team;

1969, 1971, 1972, 1973 – WA state representative;

1972 – All Australian representative;

1972 – Sandover Medal; 

1974 – 1977 Fitzroy Football Club – 80 games (runner-up fairest and best 1976);

1978 – 1980 East Perth – 64 games (runner-up East Perth fairest and best 1979);

1978 – East Perth WAFL Premiership team;

1978 – Simpson Medal; 

1982 – 1984 Perth Football Club – Senior Coach;

1990 – 1999 – Member of West Coast Eagles match committee (chairman 1993-1998);

2008 – Inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame; 

2002 – current  – West Coast Eagles player services coordinator;

2012 – West Coast Eagles life member.

Game Qualification:

Nathan Jones

286 games for Melbourne, kicking 138 goals.

25 pre-season games for Melbourne.

3 x Club Best and Fairest 2012, 2013, 2014.

Captain 2014 – 2019.

Jarryd Roughead

283 games for Hawthorn, kicking 578 goals.

21 pre-season games for Hawthorn.

4 x Premiership Player for Hawthorn 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015.

2 x All Australian 2013, 2014.

1 x Coleman Medallist 2013 (68).

3 x Club Leading Goalkicker 2014 (72), 2014 (75), 2017 (38).

1 x International game for Australia 2015.

Captain 2017 – 2018.

Joel Selwood

295 games for Geelong Cats, kicking 158 goals.

20 pre-season games for Geelong.

3 x Premiership Player for Geelong 2007, 2009, 2011.

6 x All Australian 2009, 2010, 2013 (Captain), 2014 (Captain), 2016 (Captain), 2017.

3 x Club Best and Fairest 2010, 2013, 2014.

1 x State game for Victoria 2008.

2 x International games for Australia 2014 (Captain), 2017.

2009 Michael Tuck Medallist.

2007 Ron Evans Medallist for NAB AFL Rising Star.

Captain 2012 – present. 

Jack Titus Award:

David Shipway 


Chairman, South Australian Community Football League (2009 – 2017) ;

Deputy Chairman, South Australian Football Commission (2012 – 2016) ;

Member of South Australian Football Commission (1997 – 2017) ;

Chairman, SANFL Life Members Committee (2001 – present) ;

Chairman, West Adelaide Football Club (1988 – 1989) ;

President, West Adelaide Football Club (1990 – 1994); 

Management Committee Member, West Adelaide Football Club (1985 – 1994). 


Order of the Member of Australia for Services to Football (2017) ;

Life Member of SANFL (2008) ; 

Life Member of West Adelaide Football Club (2000) ;

Introduction of mandatory para & quad insurance cover under National Insurance Scheme ;

SA Volunteer of the Year Award named in David Shipway's honour ;

Responsible for the SA Community Football League funding contributions to the value of $8 million to Community Football between 2009 and 2017; 

At the forefront of many fundraising activities for families and communities struck by tragedy, including: Provision of 22,000L rainwater storage tanks to 60 drought-affected clubs between 2012-14;

Donation of grain field bins to 80 clubs across wheat belt areas as fund-raisers, resulting in 600k funds raised;

Provision of six 200,000L water tanks to communities affected by 2015 Pinery bushfires;

Establishment of the annual Miners Cup competition between Broken Hill / Roxby Downs leagues;

60k fundraising in 2018  for teen Tai Martin-Page after suffering a spinal cord injury;

100k fundraising in 2019 for former SANFL/AFL player Mark Mickan after Parkinson's disease diagnosis.