Tall forward Andrea Gilmore has played her last season in the blue and gold after two years and 11 games with the club.

It was actually ruck-forward Parris Laurie who first introduced Gilmore to football at the Claremont Tigers, pitching the idea during a chance encounter at a café as a way to keep fit during Gilmore’s off-season as a West Coast Fever netballer.

After playing two games with Claremont Football Club and spending time with the Broome Saints while working on a charter boat as a chef, Gilmore returned home and texted West Coast’s now-backline coach Andrew Di Loreto to sound out whether the Tigers still needed a tall forward.

Unfortunately, the match was not as successful as Gilmore’s first two with the Tigers, tearing her ACL in the first five minutes of her returning match in 2020, while being listed as a train-on for West Coast.

Despite being 32 years of age, the former West Coast Fever netballer continued to train with the Eagles, and eventually got some reward for effort after being elevated from train-on to injury replacement status in 2021 after a year on West Coast’s list.

The luckless forward was finally given the opportunity to debut in round one against Adelaide – managing five tackles against the eventual minor premiers – but played just three matches in West Coast’s 2021 campaign after suffering a concussion against the grand final winners, Brisbane, in the same match she kicked her first goal in Eagles colours.

After a long-term recovery, Gilmore was back to full fitness this season and played in eight of 10 matches for West Coast – including three in the Melbourne hub – but has decided to retire and focus on her career as a chef.

“After battling an ACL injury and concussion it’s been great to see ‘Gilly’ get some reward for effort and play a full season of senior football,” Michael Prior said.

“She’s been used as a key target up forward and it’s been fantastic to have some height in there alongside Parris Laurie.

“But, she’s also contributed off the field in more ways than one, we have been privileged to have her in our program, and she will be sorely missed.”

Gilmore said it’s going to be “difficult” to leave the club culture, she’s looking forward to spending time relaxing for the first time in a number of years.

“It hasn’t been easiest of roads for me, but it goes that way with sport this time, I’ve never had this many injuries, particularly over my time playing netball, but my turn must have been with footy,” Gilmore said.

“But I gave it a good crack, and I’m happy with the contribution I’ve made.

“Also to see the club start a women’s side, having come through the academy and got to be involved while we built a women’s team has been really nice, it’s been great to be involved in the program.

“I will definitely miss the group, that’s the hardest thing, you might be done with the sport side of things and content with that, but leaving the group you see day in day out definitely makes it difficult.

“They were all lovely and said a few nice things, and they’ll be fine without me and they’ll get some new faces in there next season and be really good teammates to them too.

“I’m looking forward to seeing where they’re going to go next year, but I am definitely sad to be leaving and not be able to continue to build those relationships with people you see day in day out.

“But, I’ll enjoy not doing much for a while, it’s been pretty busy over my whole sporting career with netball and footy, I had a few years off but they were really busy with work.

“It will be nice to relax and enjoy a bit of down time and do things not conducive with playing good sport, like eating and drinking.

“It will be good to have a break and just relax for a while.”