AFLW Round 7 – Melbourne v Fremantle: Way out east, a flood of a different kind
Melbourne versus Fremantle
4.35pm, Saturday 18 March
Two years ago when I took ‘grandson’ Luke to his very first AFL football match, his opening words about the game to me were, “Where are the girl players?”
For the last game that I could attend this wonderful season of AFLW, I finally managed to get Luke to one game to see girls play. At 6, he loves his footy, and he loves his big cousin Lochie who also came. His mum Danielle, Luke, Lochie and I drove out to Casey Fields, and found limited shade on the opposite side to the stand.
Here, we witnessed Melbourne come out and claim a chance for the Grand Final. Goal after goal, within the first minute and throughout the afternoon. Luke lost interest in the game (the heat didn’t help) but never lost interest in Lochie, and even sat on his shoulders momentarily to get a great view. At 17 Lochie is a huge young man, and he was quite taken with the action on the field.
Standing with Almanacker Ebony McKenna helped too. We whooped it up. Melbourne were showing such class, and her happiness as a Demon was infectious.
Fremantle had a rotten day at the footy office, and Melbourne didn’t give them a moment’s peace. A 5 goal to 2 in the first quarter just set the scene. Those two goals from Ebony Antonio and Gemma Houghton were the only majors. Zilch. Nadda. It was all the Demons all the way.
Almanacker Ebony and I watched as the Demons showed magnificent skill. We stood at this same area in Round 1 when Melbourne were all fumbles. Today, they were skills and magnificence, and took all the attention and glory.
We shifted to the stand side and better shade, to find ourselves chatting to Danielle’s friend. She was one of the adults supervising a bus full of Montrose Footy Club girls. I wanted to talk to the girls and was introduced, along with Ebony, to their President Adam Wilkinson (see Ebony McKenna’s report). We must have been a sight. Two Almanackers madly scribbling down Adams words. Making connections. Talking the growth of the girls’ games. Talking about the importance of SEEING with their own eyes professional women players. And the long-term impact of that. Laughing when Adam talked about the boy’s skills failing when they were besotted by a group of female footy players running past, losing concentration and “doing falcons cos they’re watching the girls”.
While standing in the shade, we were given Melbourne Footy cards: Luke and I can play snap with matching Richelle Cranston, Karen Paxman, Elise O’Dea, Daisy Pearce, Deanna Berry, Ainslie Kemp and Mel Hickey cards. We checked them out and compare.
Women’s footy is big. It’s huge. And one day, we won’t be acting like it’s anything particularly special because it will be there as a matter of course. But it’s not like that yet.
So we kvelled. That’s a Jewish word meaning feel happy and proud, feel delighted, feel like gushing. We were kvelling quite a lot.
This ended abruptly as Danielle et al and I left the game half way through the last quarter to beat the crowd, and dropped off Lochie before heading back for a delicious home cooked meal.
Luke got to see girls play. He got to watch and witness something new and amazing, that matches his experience at Auskick where there are heaps of girls involved. Danielle thought they players looked really fit. And were highly skilled.
It was the highest scoring game of the season and we got to share it.
Luke’s final thoughts: The players were fast and there was less tackling. [The Freo girls couldn’t catch them to tackle Luke].
Danielle’s final thoughts: the accuracy of the marking and goal kicking was brilliant; they [women’s footballers] have fought to be seen and have a women’s league and they are proving to everyone that they deserve to be there. They are real goers.
Melbourne 5.0 8.0 10.0 11.4 (70)
Fremantle 2.0 2.3 2.4 2.4 (16)
GOALS Melbourne: A. Mifsud 2, C. Phillips 2, D Berry 2, S Scott 2, A Newman, E Humpries, K Pasman.
Fremantle: E Antonio, G Houghton.
BEST Melbourne: Pearce, Paxman, Newman, Mifsud, Phillips,O’Dea Fremantle: Hooker, Filocamo, Houghton
UMPIRES Blynde, Deff, V. Dumm. CROWD 4000 (approx.)
OUR VOTES O’Dea (Melb) 3, D. Pearce (Melb) 2, Scott (Melb) 1.