AFLW Round 6 – Adelaide v Fremantle: The Dream is Still Alive

4:05pm, Friday 9th of March

TIO Stadium, Darwin

Ron Barton

 

I’m not sure I’ve ever put more pressure on myself to write something worthwhile.

 

I’ve written poems to celebrate love and commiserate death but there is something about the current push for women’s rights that makes it one of the most pressing issues in society today. Even in my day job, as a high school English teacher, I found an opportunity to give voice to those still gaining theirs.

 

Note the shift there. The saying is usually about giving voice to the voiceless but after the #MeToo movement, the women’s marches, the returning popularity of Margaret Atwood’s seminal text The Handmaid’s Tale, and countless other stands women have made, it is not like ‘voiceless’ still applies.

 

So, here we are. It’s the day after International Women’s Day and my footy club is having a Ladies’ Night. It’s not the Ladies’ Night in the sense that you might be thinking, rather it’s about emphasising to the partners of players that they too are a part of our club. The Mandurah Makos always pride themselves on being a family club and nights like these are to remind the women in our lives that they are loved and respected.

 

It’s fitting then, that when we emerge from the change rooms the TV moves from its telecast of the JLT series game between Sydney and GWS to a broadcast of the AFLW. It’s one of those serendipitous moments, as if it too is aware of the social change that transpires before it. It is not a changing of the guard, as some older heads are fearful of, but an acknowledgement of all that we share; it is the road to equality.

 

On that, one of the things that I love about Adelaide is a club is that there appears to be a real desire to show the men’s and women’s teams on equal footing. They share the same social media account, have supported each other at training sessions and one of my favourite photos the club has put out is of the AFLW team surrounded by the men’s team at their official photo day.

 

Anyway, I find my wife among a circle of her friends and she immediately sends me on an errand to get food for the kids. Ordinarily I’d put up a bit of resistance in jest before doing what she’s asked but tonight I don’t even bother. She’s happy. If I feed the kids they’ll be happy. If the Crows win, I’ll be happy too.

 

It could be difficult. The Dockers have beaten the Crows in two preseason games at the venue and Adelaide lost their only real game at TIO as well – the odds are against us.

 

In between drinks, small talk and keeping an eye on the kids I notice that Chelsea Randall is getting a few early touches as the game appears to be played predominantly between the two 50m arcs. It’s got to be hot and humid in Darwin but the players are throwing themselves at each contest and there appears to be a bit of spite in the game – probably because neither team can afford to lose.

 

It’s looking like a real arm-wrestle but a Metcalfe tackle breaks the stalemate and leads to a Phillips goal. It’s good to see Flippa has managed to get herself on to the park but she doesn’t look as if her quad is 100% right.

 

Down the other end of the ground, an errant kick in defence leads to a Freo shot at goal but it’s only a behind. They get another shot moments later but the dribble kick narrowly misses to the right. As the Crows try to bring it out they again turn it over, this time to a 50m penalty thanks to a high shepherd from McCormick. Filocamo gets Freo’s first.

 

Metcalfe is playing a great first quarter. Her first tackle resulted in a goal our way and her second saves a certain goal against us.

 

It really looks like the defences are on top. Forward 50 entries at both ends of the ground are thwarted by defenders who just appear to be more composed. That said, Alex Williams tries valiantly and essentially outplayed Erin Phillips but the ball still falls in the lap of the Adelaide superstar and she slots her second.

 

With 30 seconds to go, Hooker fails to return the ball properly and Adelaide get their 3rd goal from the resulting 50m penalty. The game feels even, as the scoring shots reflect, but the Crows are splitting the big sticks.

 

I take advantage of the quarter time break to grab a bite to eat myself and come back to the TV in time to see Phillips take a strong mark and hand it off to Perkins for her first goal of the year.

 

Ebony Marinoff lays yet another tackle (I wonder what she’s up to? She certainly seems busy) which makes the Atkins’ kick sail left for a behind but it’s left Noffy with a stream of blood pouring out of her face from an errant elbow. Maybe Noffy needs to stop tackling head first – she split her tongue last week.

 

A Freo free kick leads to a goal and, again, the physicality of the game is on display as players engage in some push and shove. Barr misses an opportunity to close the gap but again Adelaide struggle to clear half back.

 

As the quarter nears its end it’s edge of the seat stuff as Adelaide pressure the Freo defence but nothing comes of it. A Phillips mark at the top of the goal square goes unpaid and, despite moving the ball well, nothing comes of the Crows’ repeat forward entries.

 

Half time feels like the perfect time to grab a beer to calm the nerves and be more sociable. The general consensus is that the women’s game will continue to lack the skill and polish of the men’s game until it becomes a viable profession but at least it has passion, something the AFLX lacked.

 

Back into the game and Williams has been moved off Phillips but we don’t get to see how effective that is yet as Freo push forward from the opening tap and score a goal through Antonio. Yet another 50m penalty (the umpires are definitely making their presence felt in this game) and the Dockers capitalise. Freo up by 4. They push forward again and the Crows look like their premiership defence is slipping away.

 

Halfway through the quarter and Adelaide are pressing but Freo still hold a 6 point lead. Depressingly, the Crows blow a forward entry where they had a 3 on 1 match up in the goal square but, fortunately, Sedunary soccers one through minutes later to put the Crows 1 point up.

 

Freo definitely dominated the early part of this quarter but Adelaide are clearly the better team as the quarter nears the end.

 

When the final quarter starts, the sky seems a lot darker. It’s really quite ominous.

 

A 3 on 1 against Phillips results in a free kick but the handball to Perkins results in a behind only. With the dish off in the first quarter as well, I wonder if it was a predetermined strategy. Speaking of tactics, Noffy’s eye is bleeding again and Hooker points it out to the umps so one of our best players has to make her way to the bench.

 

I’ve got my phone out and I’m struggling to make notes. I’m willing the Crows across the line but the final siren is eons away. This final quarter is a blur. My wife is… somewhere. My kids are… somewhere. All I’m conscious of is that a Phillips mark in the goal square is again unpaid but she snaps the goal anyway. Randall is getting some important touches and her mark, pushing back into the pack, underlines her courage. She and Sarah Allan are taking saving mark after saving mark.

 

A Hooker goal brings it back to a three point game with 5 minutes to go and Freo are pressing. I’m not sure I can watch this.

 

Metcalfe earns a lucky free kick; the play results in a Perkins behind.

 

The Crows are up by four points. It’s still less than a goal and there’s 2 minutes to go. It’s either going to be a resilient win or heartbreaking loss.

 

There’s a kid tugging on my shirt. It’s my kid. Come on! Have I taught you nothing?

 

Still, I welcome the distraction. It saves me the agony of watching.

 

I hear the siren and take a quick glance at the TV.

 

Yes!!! 4 point win.

 

I look down at my son. He wants to know if I bought raffle tickets. I did. So, he’s happy, and he runs off to join his sister. I scan the room and find my wife, she’s still with friends. Still smiling.

 

I’m smiling now too. Not just because the Crows won but also because the club room is filled with the happy faces of men, women and children alike.

 

It’s been a big few days.

 

 

Adelaide         3.0       4.0       5.1       6.4       (40)

Fremantle        1.2       2.4       4.6       5.6       (36)

GOALS

Adelaide: Phillips 3, Rajcic, Perkins, Sedunary.
Fremantle: Hooker 2, Filocamo, Atkins, Antonio.

BEST 

Adelaide: Randall, Marinoff, Allan, Foley, Phillips, Cramey.
Fremantle: Hooker, Antonio, Gooch, Donnellan.

CROWD 2,159

UMPIRES: Dore, Galbraith, Broadbent

OUR VOTES      Randall (Adel) 3, Marinoff (Adel) 2, Allan (Adel) 1.

 

 

About Ron Barton

Published poet, blogger and teacher - Ron Barton works with words.

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Lovely write up Ron. Everyone got what they needed. Your wife some time with friends, kids some freedom and attention when needed and you some footy time as well as a distraction when tension was highest. Crows are still in with a chance. What a weekend of footy we have had and won’t next weekend be a corker!

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