Sophie the umpire’s choice in Women’s B&F award

Sophie Ranken from the Tamworth Swans claimed both the 2023 AFL North West Best & Fairest Award and the Coaches Award.

AFTER not playing football last year, Sophie Ranken certainly made sure her return to the game was a good one.

The Tamworth Swans midfielder claimed the Women’s Best & Fairest award having polled 23 votes from the umpires in just nine matches.

The 26 year-old didn’t play in any of the last four matches of the season the Swans played, including the two finals matches.

Previously Ranken had played with Cardiff but she proved a fine pick up for the Swans in 2023.

At the time she was injured, Ranken held an unassailable eight vote lead over two-time winner Gabby Mooney from Inverell.

This was the second year in a row that the second and third places on the Best & Fairest leaderboard were held by Mooney and Lauren Appleby from the Tamworth Kangaroos.

Appleby, originally a young gun from Moree, shone for the Tamworth Kangaroos in 2023 and the 16 year-old was named best afield in the final two rounds to take her tally for the year to 18 votes to not just finish the count in third position but also win the Rising Star award.

The top three place getters finished a long way ahead of the rest of the field.

Tamworth Kangaroos captain Melanie Young finished in fourth position ahead of half a dozen Gunnedah players who rounded out the leaderboard.

Both Rani Grant and Katrina Rekunow polled six votes, one ahead of the competition’s leading Goalkicker April Bailey with Khobi Devine, Zoe Palmer and Abbey Ruttley tying for eighth position alongside Olivia Fanning from the Swans.


23 – Sophie Ranken (Tamworth Swans)

19 – Gabby Mooney (Inverell)

18 – Lauren Appleby (Tamworth Kangaroos)

7 – Melanie Young (Tamworth Kangaroos)

6 – Rani Grant (Gunnedah)

6 – Katrina Rekunow (Gunnedah)

5 – April Bailey (Gunnedah)

4 – Khobi Devine (Gunnedah)

4 – Olivia Fanning (Tamworth Swans)

4 – Zoe Palmer (Gunnedah)

4 – Abbey Ruttley (Gunnedah)


Leading goal kicker: Apryl Bailey – 22 goals (Gunnedah)

Rising Star: Lauren Appleby (Tamworth Kangaroos)

Coaches Award: Sophie Ranken (Tamworth Swans)


2022 – Eliza Hand (Tamworth Swans)

2021 – Gabby Mooney (Inverell Saints)

2020 – Billie Mitchell (Tamworth Swans)

2019 – Gabby Mooney (Inverell Saints)

2018 – Katherine Penberthy (Inverell Saints) and Lisa Raymond (New England Nomads)

2017 – Eleanore Ford (Inverell Saints)