real life

"I walked in matching the table cloths." Abby Gilmore reflects on her experience of the Brownlow.

Abby Gilmore was a 22-year-old mum-of-one when she attended the Brownlow in 2015 with then-boyfriend, AFL forward Jake Stringer.

Less than a year later, Gilmore, who had a six-week-old baby, would receive a text message from a 17-year-old schoolgirl claiming she had been having an affair with Stringer.

“I was just chilling with [Jake’s teammate Jason Johannisen] when I got this message and just went pale,” Gilmore told Herald Sun journalist Alice Coster.

“I showed Jason. We both had no idea.”

“I immediately thought I must be doing something wrong. I think that is what so many women first feel, I’m not good enough,” Gilmore told the Herald Sun, adding she felt “so ashamed” that her ‘perfect life’ had come “crumbing down”.

On Monday night, three years since she attended the Brownlow, Gilmore shared a photo to Instagram, cropping out her former partner.

Abby Gilmore Brownlow
Image via Instagram.

"Just your yearly reminder that I was fortunate enough to attend once..." wrote the 25-year-old.

"I walked in matching the table cloths and never got to redeem myself ever again... everyone tonight looks so hot!

"It's next level... I was also in new ideas [sic] worst dressed sooooo yeh happy Brownlow."

Gilmore then posted a video telling her followers, "I'm literally at the point where I’m about to get in my car and go buy chocolate.

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"I need it that badly. This is not a drill."

It was last year on Grand Final day that Gilmore first shared the truth about her break up with Stringer.

After calling the 17-year-old schoolgirl who had contacted her, Gilmore learned Stringer had been sleeping with her for more than four months - while she was pregnant with their second daughter, Arlo - with Jake visiting the girl's family home sometimes three times a week.

"Her parents were diehard Bulldogs supporters, they gave their blessing to this homewrecker," Gilmore said.

Soon, a long line of other women came forward alleging they had also slept with Stringer. Some even sent nude photos of her fiancé as proof.

"I had just done an article on how beautiful my family was and the very next day I got this message and my life crumpled to pieces," she said.

"The worst part for me was all these girls knew I existed, they knew I was pregnant with a child and it's just wrong."

Despite projecting an image of the 'perfect family', Gilmore said her partner's gambling addiction had reached "fever pitch" in the months before the arrival of their second daughter, Arlo.

Stringer - whose addiction started when he was just 16 - had already gambled away six figures of the family's life savings.

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"The environment at a football club is concerning," Gilmore said.


"Everything around footy is dictated on betting. How do you stop something when all you are surrounded by is gambling?

"In hindsight I realised I played a role in his gambling. I should have spoken out more to get him help rather than passively enabling his actions."

It took Gilmore a year to speak publicly about Stringer's infidelity and alleged addiction - an action she knew she would receive backlash for. Nonetheless, she wanted women to know they are "allowed to have a voice".

"I realised I was lowering my self worth by being in this relationship. I was showing my girls that you put up with whatever to have a roof over your head and nice things," she said.

"But I want my girls to know I would rather struggle and be happy than be in a toxic relationship".

"No one talks about it, but so many women go through it. I just want to have a voice for that."

Gilmore is mother to daughters Milla, three, and Arlo, one, and is now in a long-term relationship with a man entirely removed from the world of AFL.

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