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Featured Image Credit: Instagram/daniellemaylaidley07/Twitter/Ch7
Former AFL coach and premiership player Dani Laidley made an appearance at the Brownlow Medal for the first time since her transition.
Walking the red carpet, the ex-North Melbourne Kangaroos star wore a white dress which matched with her partner Donna Leckie.
“[I've attended] perhaps eight or nine Brownlows [before],” Laidley said upon arrival.
“Now to be here celebrating as myself, I’m so very grateful.”
A few years ago, Laidley's transition to a woman was made very public after images of her new look were leaked by Victorian Police via social media.
Since then, the 55-year-old has made countless public appearances – although this year's Brownlow night was perhaps the biggest.
"It’s a beautiful moment for us both," Laidley's partner Leckie told Channel Seven.
"I don’t think we’ve ever been so spoiled and felt so really beautiful."
Dani Laidley gives her thoughts of who will win the Brownlow Medal in 2022 pic.twitter.com/GdIyBNZhLT— Shahryar Sultan (@Shahryar_Sultan) September 18, 2022
To which Laidley added: “It’s been wonderful… it’s just been phenomenal.
"I just said when we came down the stairs ‘we are so grateful and overwhelmed for what you’ve done for us to get here tonight and go enjoy the night of nights’, which we haven’t had for quite a few years."
The wider AFL community also rallied behind Laidley, showing their support on social media calling out any nasty comments.
Dani Laidley on the #brownlow red carpet. Love football or hate it, this is a noteworthy moment. This is the serious mainstream, and there is a lot of positivity and acceptance in relation to Dani’s transition. https://t.co/L5zGOn1VV0— Gemma Cafarella (she/her) 🏳️🌈 (@gemmacaf) September 18, 2022
Dani Laidley being welcomed back into footy and looking happy is so fantastic to see. #Brownlow— Katie Lambeski (@katielambeski) September 18, 2022
Incredible to see Dani Laidley so welcomed back into the footy fold.— Nick Splitter (@nicksplitter) September 18, 2022
Fantastic to see Dani Laidley at the Brownlow ❤️❤️❤️❤️— MissGrumps (@nellybabe) September 18, 2022
Great to see Dani Laidley rocking the Brownlow. Take note Wayne Carey… That’s how a Premiership Player should conduct themselves at Crown #BrownlowMedal— Pearcey (@EviDanc86374080) September 18, 2022
If half the “men” had the courage Dani Laidley had to be herself,and not write cheap and nasty derogatory comments about her, the world would be a better place #BrownlowMedal— Luke (@Marruso89) September 18, 2022
Laidley's appearance at the Brownlow Medal comes not long after she refused to rule out a return to coaching in the future.
"The itch is there, it is always there," she told The Herald Sun.
"I love to coach and develop people and bring out the best side of them. What that looks like in the future I am not too sure.
"I would not by any stretch of the imagination go back into elite level coaching, I would not think so, but it might be time to give back at lower levels, community levels, which I have really enjoyed previously."