AFLW Round 6 – Carlton v Melbourne: Daisy meets Olive

AFLW Round 6 Carlton vs Melbourne. Ikon Park aka ‘Princess’ Park 11/03/2018

 

My friend Olive turns 5 tomorrow, she will start Auskick this year, and today she will watch her first ever game of football.

 

When can we get out there?!

 

Patience is not a virtue that her age group possess. To distract her I ask which team she is going to ‘go for’. Olive’s parents don’t care for footy, so she hasn’t been forced into team colours. Naturally, I have pushed for the Bulldogs. Olive watches as the teams go through their kicking drills.

 

I like the ones in green.

 

They’re the umpires! You can’t barrack for them.

 

What do they do?

 

There are some questions that can’t be answered easily. Hopefully Olive understands this better one day.

 

Olive drags her Mum outside the playground for a good part of the first half and into the third quarter. But not before Elise ‘Junior’ O’Dea and Tegan Cunningham have kicked a few each for the Dees, while the Blues have only managed a point. These two teams were pre-season favourites to play off in the Grand Final and Melbourne are looking likely. Carlton most probably will finish bottom.

 

The heartbreaking injury to competition favourite Bri Davey has been too hard for Carlton to cover though they have star players around the ground. Davey had been pivotal in setting up and driving the ball forward but without her Carlton are left to minimise the damage and defend across the ground. They do this with some success, slowing Melbourne’s scoring and pressuring them into more behinds than goals. But the strength of Richelle Cranston, the stretch of Tegan Cunningham, the work rate of O’Dea, the pure football class of Karen Paxman and the leadership and inside work of Captain Daisy Pearce are unmatchable. I watch Pearce; every time she gets the ball, she is tackled hard by the Carlton girls. She must be sore after every game; the gift of being one of the very best.

 

Melbourne don’t have everything going for them though. Towards the end of the third quarter Mel Hickey stumbles awkwardly while chasing the ball alongside Carlton’s Nicola Stevens. From the stand it almost looks like Hickey has tripped in the 100 metre hurdles, but she grasps at her left knee and I can see her scream. She is helped from the ground. Over her career she has spent most of her time in defence but this year, for Melbourne, she has been in the midfield and has proven just as solid. Just as Carlton would love to have Bri Davey if they were playing finals; Melbourne will miss Hickey. Their dominant midfield, however, remains formidable.

 

In the last quarter Georgia Gee kicks the Blues third goal to add to one each from Taylah Harris and Darcy Vescio. Melbourne are already 29 points up and Kate Hore kicks one more for a comfortable win.

 

The Dees have booked themselves an unofficial preliminary final against the dominant Bulldogs next week. The winner of that game will play in the Grand Final. The loser will most likely not (although mathematically it is still possible). Melbourne’s win has been incredibly important to them. They celebrate accordingly with the song on the ground and arms around each other in a circle. Each player then gathers an undersized footy to sign and hand out and spend a small amount of time with the crowd along the fence.

 

Olive cheers with the rest of the crowd. She asks again if she can go on the ground. Not yet. But I take her down to the fence and tell her if she is lucky she might have one of the footballers give her a footy. One of the Melbourne girls runs by and I tell Olive to wave and she might come over. Olive waves and the player waves back. Olive thinks this is pretty good. Another Dee is running in our direction. Olive starts waving and the player stays true on her course towards us. It is Daisy Pearce. I have a tear in my eye as Daisy hands Olive a signed ball. Daisy asks Olive if she is doing Auskick this year and chats to her before making her way around to be selfied and sign jumpers. Daisy has just run her heart out and been banged into for the duration of the game yet smiles for Olive and each subsequent fan she meets. To me it seems like a smile of pride, in being the role-mode to Olive that she never had herself. I tell Olive that Daisy is the best player ever, she is excited but mostly about getting over the fence to run around. Harriet Cordner runs past and high-5s Olive with a gentle pat on the hand.

 

The field is finally cleared, and the second siren is blown. I lift Olive over the fence and away she goes kicking Pearce’s signature all over the ground. That ball would go straight to my pool room, if I had it, Olive happily throws and chases it. She gets knocked over by someone much bigger, and just jumps up and goes again. Maybe she watched more than I thought maybe she saw Pearce shrug off tackle after tackle to win the ball again. We play on the grandstand side wing until Olive see’s the goal posts…

 

Olive Croucher gathers the ball on the wing and evades her opponent. She runs toward goal and dodges one, two, another one. She is on fire! Runs into the open goal and throws it over the line and celebrates with her hands in the air and an ear to ear smile!

 

It is home time, and against her protests Olive is dragged off the oval. Outside the ground I ask her if she barracks for Melbourne now.

 

No! My team is the ones that wear green!

 

I hope in time she appreciates the details around this scrappy game as much as I do.

 

 

About David Jacobson

My Nanna knitted my Teddy Bear a Bulldog jumper with matching shorts but that was a long time ago. I have now, finally, been to a Preliminary Final that I enjoyed.

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Wonderful David. The umpires can always do with a fan club! See you tonight??

  2. David Jacobson says:

    Thanks Yvette! We will be there. I’m pretty sure Gigz will be there too

  3. Daisy and co. are wonderful role models. They know they are and they play the part beautifully. If Olive doesn’t get pinged for throwing the ball, that could be the golden point that is a game winner in 2033!

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