AFLW Round 2 – Carlton v GWS: The best laid plans…
3.35pm, Saturday 11 February
Ikon Park, Melbourne
By Bede McKenna
Ever since it was announced a lot of things excited me about the new league, but perhaps foremost was being able to see AFL footy back at great suburban grounds. I had it all planned out, I’d cycle my bike – wind flowing through my hair – to Princes Park and follow the local side Carlton since my beloved Tigers weren’t available.
Yet, as the best laid plans oft do, it all went a little awry. I end up walking down Sydney Road to the game, having found my bike (left outside a less than classy Brunswick establishment) with the tyres kicked in a few weeks before. On the path outside, my left thong breaks and so I’m desperately holding it together with my toes. When I finally get to my seat, I end up dropping my phone and cracking the screen. At least nothing else could go wrong, I assure myself, as a friend passes a bowl of cut up melon. It’s all good from here, I’ll just enjoy watching the Blues.
Alas the great thing about footy is – I think – that it’s wildly unpredictable. There’s a mathematically infinite number of possible scores and margins, the ball itself seems to defy physics, and the play is so varied a player could as often be confused as a ballerina or raging bull. The other unpredictability is passion; it’s easier to explain how much you love your team than why you do. Or why you feel so strongly about a game outsiders struggle to comprehend. I thought I could walk into the ground and decide I was following the Blues – but support seemingly has little to do with free will. Slowly but surely I was dragged in by the Giants.
Jakobsson finds herself in acres of space for the first, but something about it doesn’t stir the supporter in me, Schmidt’s running reply though had me ready to get out of my seat – and when Barclay somehow got boot to ball while being flung to the floor moments later I was starting to get hooked.
I only got eyes for Dal Pos after the first term; a player who can’t help but read the game better than most of the field. The kind of footballer that’s somehow able to be loose in defence when needed, free in the pocket when you’re going forward but also there for the handball when you’re in trouble – she’s tough as nails too, shaking off a big hit early to be the Giants’ best.
And what a week can achieve; Vescio’s gone from an unknown quantity with a hard-to-pronounce name to Carlton’s cult hero. When she marks in the second Ikon Park erupts – they don’t bother to wait for her to kick they know she’ll split the middle. Now the Giants can’t seem to do much right and Davey has the ball on a string. I’m tense, but the team I came here to watch is doing everything right.
Back to that unpredictability of footy, there was a moment in the third quarter that summed up everything that is great about our sport. With the Blues behind and trying to force the ball out of their back fifty, the Giants scramble a shot. At first it looks destined for a point but it bounces, with the wild unpredictability of a footy, suddenly now headed for the boundary with a Carlton defender to mop up but the again the ball refuses to do as it should, and Barclay pounces. She throws herself into the defender and in the way that only footy allows, transforms a motion of brutality into the finesse needed to gather, turn, straighten up and find Jess Dal Pos for a nice goal. A moment from nothing. Pure footy, and I was loving it. Go Giants.
It might be Alex Williams who really steals my heart. The best defenders treat time differently than us mere mortals; maybe that’s why some of them seem to play into middle-age. She holds the Giants in the game at several points, intercepting a certain goal and of course a brilliant last ditch tackle at the death in the fourth.
But as only footy can, the game shifts. The Blues find two quick ones in a tight contest and go into the last break level. They come back out hungry. It’s a simple thing to say, but the first goal in the last quarter was going to be important. Pound forces her way through a pack and forces Carlton into the lead. Moments later, Downie snaps another for the Blues; a play that left players of both teams strewn across the deck, underlining how punishing this game had been. Carlton didn’t let go from there, but what a game it had been. Real footy, where the plan goes out the window at the first unpredictable bounce of the ball.
CARLTON 1.0 2.3 4.4 7.5 (47)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.1 2.2 4.4 5.4 (34)
Goals: Carlton: D Vescio 2 A Downie B Jakobsson G Pound L Brazzale S Audley.
Greater Western Sydney: A Schmidt H Wallett J Barclay J Dal Pos P McWilliams.
Best: Carlton: B.Davey, B. Jakobsson, L. Arnell, N. Exon, D. Vescio, T. Lucas-Rodd, S. Audley
GWS: J. Dal Pos, A. Schmidt, A. Guest, P. McWilliams, N. Barr, R. Beeson
UMPIRES: Waddington, Toner, Sommerville
Our Best: J. Dal Pos (3), B. Davey (2), A. Williams (1).