The Casey Demons Football Club is bidding a heartfelt farewell to two of its most beloved players, Sammie Johnson and Alicia Bertrand, as they retire from VFLW-level football. Both women have left an indelible mark on the club and the sport, and their contributions both on and off the field will be remembered for years to come.

Sammie Johnson: A Leader On and Off the Field

Sammie Johnson joined the Casey Demons in 2021 after two seasons with St Kilda, bringing with her a background in basketball and an innate leadership ability. Her impact was immediate; she was named captain in her first year at the club, a testament to her inclusive nature and leadership qualities. Under her captaincy, Johnson led the Demons to their first finals appearance in club history and was awarded the Casey Demons VFLW Best & Fairest in 2022, along with leading the club to their first Preliminary Final.

Johnson's exceptional form did not go unnoticed, and she was selected at pick 49 in the 2022 NAB AFLW Draft by Melbourne. Despite playing only three games for Melbourne before announcing her pregnancy and sitting out the rest of the season, she remained an integral part of the Casey Demons. In 2023, she returned in a coaching capacity, bringing her wealth of knowledge and experience to the young team.

In 2024, Johnson came back to the Demons as a playing assistant coach, where her leadership and expertise continued to be a vital asset. Reflecting on her career, Johnson shared, "One of my funniest memories was when our coaches Pete and Brooke did a game review through interpretive dance. But my favourite moment was when the club put on a commemorative game against the Western Bulldogs for my mum, who had passed from pancreatic cancer. The love and support the club showed during that time is something I will always hold close to my heart."

Johnson emphasised the importance of connection and community during her time at Casey. "What I have taken away from my time at the Casey Demons would probably be the importance of connection and giving back to the local community. At times, we could take being a player at Casey for granted; people do all this work for us so we get to play the game we love. So being able to give back and connect with people in the club and the community is huge."

Looking ahead, Johnson plans to take a break, get married to her fiance Harley in December, and celebrate with their son Luca. "But in terms of being involved in footy, I can see myself going down the coaching path and also see myself getting a serious case of FOMO when the girls start pre-season in November," she admitted. "Spending time with my family will be the priority as they have sacrificed so much for me over the last few years, and it’s about time I repaid them, so I’m really looking forward to that."

Alicia Bertrand: A Pioneer and Resilient Warrior

Alicia Bertrand has been with the Casey Demons since their inception in the VFLW competition in 2018, making her one of the foundation players. Originally from Queensland, Bertrand was a promising swimmer growing up but was not allowed to play football. Despite this, her passion for the sport persisted, and she eventually found her way to the Demons, where she became a key player and leader.

Bertrand's journey was not without challenges. She has endured two ACL injuries, yet her resilience and determination never wavered. Also taking time out of the game due to the pregnancy of her first child, Billy. Her leadership on and off the field has been a guiding light for the team, and she became the first Casey Demon to play 50 VFLW games—a significant milestone in the club's history.

One of Bertrand's fondest memories, despite being sidelined, was watching the team make the VFLW finals for the first time. "It was a proud moment for me to watch them go to the Preliminary Final the next year, a huge achievement for the club and the program," she recalled. Reflecting on her time at Casey, Bertrand highlighted the value of individuality and teamwork. "The biggest thing I’ll probably take away from my time at Casey is that everyone is special and unique in their own right. Everyone has their own strengths and flares to add value to the team in a program. The club really helped me understand and value myself as a person and a footballer."

As Bertrand looks to the future, she plans to enjoy a well-deserved break and spend valuable time with her family, hoping to grow it in the near future. "I certainly won’t be a stranger around the club; the girls will see me on game days cheering them on," she assured.

A Lasting Legacy

Both Sammie Johnson and Alicia Bertrand have left a legacy at the Casey Demons that transcends their on-field achievements. Their leadership, resilience, and commitment to the club and community have set a high standard for future generations. As they move on to new chapters in their lives, the Casey Demons community will forever cherish their contributions and the lasting impact they have made.

The Casey Demons Football Club wishes Sammie and Alicia all the best in their future endeavours and thanks them for their incredible service and dedication. Their stories are a testament to the spirit of football and the profound impact it can have on individuals and communities alike.