AFLW Round 2 – Western Bulldogs v Adelaide: “It’s tough being a woman” takes on a whole new meaning.
I visited my Aunty Serry in her Windsor nursing home this week. She’s there for respite and I visit as often as I can to cheer her up. Today she was having lunch with the other ladies on her table. She asked me how I was, and I started blathering on about how great the women’s football was. My aunty knows I am a bit nuts, so she takes it all in. One of her table mates to my left, gets involved.
Mary is originally from west Ireland, and is a firebrand. She surprises me when she says she’s 95. She could have passed for 85 but she called me a liar for saying so. She has a sister who is 97, and she’s a firecracker too, I am told. Mary says, “I walk a lot, and I swear a lot and it keeps me young.”
It does indeed. She also went on, “I’m into women playing sport, any sport. Love to watch it. Good to hear they are doing well.” At this stage, I was slightly in love with Mary. I showed her the photos on my phone, and she was so stoked. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have Foxtel so most of it will be unavailable to her. But I will show her this article next time I’m in. She made my day. And she and Serry warmed my heart. We’re talking women’s footy and I can’t even do that with the men’s with Serry!
I think of Mary as I head to the footy with Denise. We come straight from a meeting in Carlton and get stuck in a bit of peak hour traffic, and we make it in time to grab food from the The Curry Truck on the hill, before finding seats in the stand next to the Adelaide coaching box. Almanacker Kate O’Halloran and her friend find us to say g’day before joining her brother in the major stand at the Whitten Oval. It feels like a party again. The crowds are gathering. The excitement is palpable.
Denise has a bad feeling about the game tonight. She’s worried about the Crows form.
I chat to the people on my right, and find I am sitting with the “enemy”, lovely Crows fans. Trish trekked all the way from Adelaide to watch her girls. She said she was backing her husband’s dream to coach, and he’s Mark Moody, part of the Adelaide coaching team. There are a few Adelaide people who came across, family and just supporters.
I asked the traditional question you ask of South Australians. Which team do you support? “You know what, this is a different group. I’m happy to be supporting the Crows because I’m excited for the girls. They are finally getting the chance to play footy, and they are playing anyway, but at this higher level, it’s absolutely fantastic, so I am following the club.” Trish is a Port Adelaide supporter, and until Port get a women’s team, she is a Crows supporter through and through… for the women. (She also did support the Crows men’s team when Adelaide got the first AFL team, but switched allegiances once her mob got in.) Mark Moody is also an ex-Port player, so he had her allegiance too. “I’m excited for the girls”, she re-iterated, “it’s about time.” She also knows Peter Argent, the fabulous South Australian photographer who contributes to the Almanac site.
“I’m passionate about footy, to see the girls go out there, this is history. No-one thought it would ever happen, and it has. And people are warming to it. I’ve seen more positives than negatives. Classic example, the first game is a lock out. At Adelaide, despite the weather, we still had 9500. And the weather was humid and wet. It’s being supported.”
I asked whether the crowds would continue once people had to pay. “People will still come. They are going to see if they are interested. Should I go, should I experience it? It’s more popular than you think, and I think it will continue to be supported.”
And then the footy took over.
There is a new Doggies theme song, “Daughters of the West…”, sung out loud and beautifully in a bluesy version by another talented woman. Love it. (Denise says if they changed it to “team of the West” it would have done the job! But I like the new version in the voice of the “other”.)
When the game starts, two good Doggies marks are wasted with behinds. Another behind worries us as the Crows step up and goal through soon to be legend, Sarah “Tex” Perkins. Wow. What a kick. Bulldogs answer with another behind and after a Crows behind, an out of bounds on the full. Another point to each sees Adelaide ahead by 3 points at quarter time.
We sit and watch the huge moon rising, Geelong Road traffic, the smoggy city landscape, bits of the Bolte Bridge and container equipment. And the women return to their positions for the start of the next quarter.
Katie Brennon goals for her Western Bulldogs. A captain’s cry. Follow me.
There are points to both teams before Adelaide step on the pedal. Jessica Sedunary put the Crows 3 points ahead. Sarah Perkins shows why she’s nicknamed “Tex” by kicking a magnificent strong long goal from 50. Abbey Holmes misses one. The points add up. Crows are ahead by 11 at half time.
Denise heads off to visit friends and family on the hill behind the goal post.
Come the beginning of the 3rd, Kirsten McLeod pulls one back for the Dogs, making a statement. There are fireworks and music. Home team theatrics. Another point to Doggies and Adelaide pull ahead again through Rhiannon Metcalfe and a killer goal to Rachael Killian. These two terrific goals wrap around more points for the Dogs. They have kicked themselves out of this game. Jessica McCormick joins the party with another goal, and my mates next to me tells me she is just back from injury. That goal is a statement. Kellie Gibson crumbs through another goal. The crowd around me are going nuts. Crows lead by 20 at the last break.
Denise’s worries seemed well founded now. “Just like I predicted,” she says on return.
Bulldogs are having a terrible night. Two free kicks and a two fifties go their way but they stuff it up and lose it. All they get is a rushed point. Angela Foley gets another for the Crows.
“They’re stuffed,” says my sister. Bulldogs get a few behinds this quarter to finish off a forgettable game. The Crows around me sing out with great spirit, just as their women played and the coaches behind go to join their winning team on the ground. It’s been another awesome night and I find myself barracking for footy even though I am wearing my new Doggies women’s scarf Denise bought before the game.
That’s just footy I guess. Women’s footy is so magnificent. The joy all around is palpable. And it’s so much fun.
Western Bulldogs 2.11 23
Adelaide Crows 7. 6. 48
Goals: Western Bulldogs: Brennan, McLead
Adelaide: Perkins 2, Foley, McCormick, Sedunary, Gibson, Killian.
Malarky Votes: 3 Ebody Marinoff, 2 Erin Phillips, 1 Rachael Killian