Bluebirds stalwart explains her helmet wearing superstition
THERE are pre-game superstitions and then there's Lauren James.
In 2013, James and Suns AFLW captain Leah Kaslar banded together to found the Coolangatta Bluebirds inaugural women's football side.
Having suffered from a few concussions throughout her sporting career, James decided to purchase a helmet to wear every time she stepped out onto the field.
And she hasn't washed it since.
"It's a bit lucky," the 27-year-old said.
"I was wearing it when we won the premiership (in 2016).
"There's a bit of a tradition going around for the new girls to give it a lucky sniff before a game.
"It will retire when we win another grand final which hopefully is this year.
"Then I'll put it on a mantle at Coolangatta."
James was also quick to point out that she does indeed wash her hair after every game to rid herself of any remaining helmet aroma.
The legendary helmet last week added another chapter to its growing legacy when James kicked the winning goal against Bond University in Round 1 of the QAFLW season with mere seconds to go.
It signalled the perfect farewell for late Bluebird Fiona Stevenson who passed away from cancer in late 2019.
The two had played together for years, Stevenson even helping James land her first job at Pimpama State Secondary College when she graduated university.
As she swooped on the ball inside the forward 50 and snapped towards goal on her non-dominant, left foot, James couldn't help but think her best mate was watching from above.
"In the last quarter, while we were still winning, we were all cheering and laughing because Fi goes for the Collingwood Magpies and we all looked up and saw this bird flying past in the sky with a fish in its mouth.
"It sounds silly but we were all saying that it was a bull shark (Bond University are nicknamed the Bull Sharks) in the bird's mouth so when we did win, it was pretty significant.
"As soon as it happened, we posted in her (Fiona's) legacy Facebook group and told her family what happened so it was a pretty special moment.
"She pushed us through to the end."
As the Bluebirds aim to continue their winning streak against Aspley tomorrow afternoon at home (2:30pm), James said it was business as usual despite a spine-tingling start to the season.
"We talked about it for about five minutes at the start of training on Monday and then Gravsey (coach Nicole Graves) said we've got Aspley this week and we can't take them lightly because they are well-coached and have some underrated players.
"Everyone is just really enjoying footy.
"We have such a great team camaraderie and hopefully it's a great year for all of us."
Bond University continue their QAFLW season tomorrow afternoon at home against the University of Queensland (3:45pm).