Amy Gaylor handballs during the round three Coates Talent League Girls match between Calder and Sandringham, April 1, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

THE FINAL year of junior footy for Essendon recruit Amy Gaylor came crashing down around her when she hyper-extended her knee and suffered a suspected ACL injury.

In fact, up until the moment the surgeon was looking at the inside of Gaylor's knee, everyone believed she had experienced the dreaded 12-month blow.

"It's quite a wild story. I got scans of my knee and they came back that the surgeon was 95 per cent sure I'd done an ACL, so I was pretty certain. School holidays were two months away, so I sat around for a while, then eventually went into surgery," Gaylor told

"He cut me open, and they looked, and my ACL was intact, completely fine. It turned out to be a slight meniscus tear, and that was it.

"I got out of surgery and was still half-out of it with the drugs. The surgeon told me it turned out the ACL was okay. You're kidding me.

Amy Gaylor during the AFLW Academy training session at The Hangar, January 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"Mum came into the room, and I was like, 'Mum, guess what? It's still intact'. And she said, 'what are you on about? You've got no clue, you're still out of it.'

"I was lifting up my leg to show her, and she said, 'oh shit, they've done the wrong leg'. But yeah, just quite a wild story.

"So, I was back within six weeks after surgery and was able to get in the last Vic Metro game, which was really good."

Gaylor missed around three months in total, but having come through the Calder Cannons talent pathway, was eligible for pre-selection by Essendon through the expansion club assistance package.

In hindsight, it meant those months on the sidelines hadn't affected her chances of being drafted.

Amy Gaylor with family during the AFLW Draft at Marvel Stadium, December 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"After the year I'd had with my injury, I had a bit of doubt about the draft. It was such a nice feeling that Essendon had that belief in me to pick me up early," Gaylor said.

"I was just so thankful that I was able to be pre-signed. I know going into the draft, I would have been absolutely crapping myself. It was really good to just sit back on the night and watch all my friends get drafted."

The Bombers took part in a searching pre-season camp a few weeks ago, heading down to HMAS Cerberus, the Australian Navy's training base on the Mornington Peninsula.

"We spent the weekend running through a bit of what they do down there. We did a bit of Navy stuff, like jumping off a sinking ship, facing heights and all that," Gaylor said.

"Did some high ropes courses, even a smoke walk, so a lot of different experiences, but it was a great opportunity to connect with teammates. For me, coming in as a new draftee, it is really good experience.


"The smoke walk was pretty crazy. They had us put on these face masks that had oxygen tanks connected to it, and they chucked us in a room that was fully smoked, so you couldn't see even if someone put a hand in front of your face. They had us go in groups, and we had to walk around and find a 'casualty'. That was pretty terrifying, but it was a weird experience, definitely. Our group were all holding onto each other for dear life."

Gaylor played netball and basketball in her early sporting years, swapping to football with Strathmore when she was 14, a suburb smack bang in between Essendon's Tullamarine base and its home AFLW ground of Windy Hill.

She's now started a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne, with an eye to focusing on biology and physiology (rather than engineering or physics) and has found her feet quickly at Essendon, impressing teammates and staff with her attitude and rapid adaptation to professional standards.

"I think all three clubs that we (Essendon draftees Gaylor, Chloe Adams and Emily Gough) have come from have got that professionalism. Especially in the past few years, I think the environment's really stepped up, and they've been putting a lot of resources into the women's side of the comp," Gaylor said.

"So yeah, 100 per cent I think the past two years in the Coates League has definitely helped.

"But I think it also is a credit to the people that we are, just with great work ethics and willingness to learn. I guess coming into an environment [like Essendon], and they've just been great in kind of slowly transitioning us to that AFLW level."