Beverly Knight’s imminent departure from the Essendon board has scarcely made a ripple in the context of the club’s myriad of upheavals this year. But on a day the AFL annually and officially declares as belonging to the women of the industry, it seems a worthy time to record just how much of a trailblazer she has been.
Knight was the first woman to serve on the board of an AFL club. To put into context her period of service, she was recommended to the Bombers by retiring player Tim Watson in 1993 some months after he had travelled with his eight-year-old son Jobe alongside Knight on a mission to the Northern Territory. Knight’s acclaimed Alcaston Gallery, headlining indigenous art, sponsored Essendon at the time.
Knight became a director one year after Ron Evans had stepped down as club president. Evans’ son David is the fifth president she has served under. Although the early years were particularly tough for her gender-wise, she leaves in the knowledge that her football club revolutionised the role of women in club football, not to mention the game’s increasingly strong involvement in the community.