AFLW Round 3 – Adelaide v Carlton: Favourite flags
Adelaide v Carlton
11.35am, Sunday 19 February
Thebarton Oval, Adelaide
Giving the lass access to the world of Australian Rules football has been an interesting process. She’s been going to the footy for years. Only, footy’s been a destination, not a thing you actually watch. It’s where you go on the bouncy castle and get your face painted while dad watches the Redlegs. It’s where you play with the other little girls as the big brothers practice their kicks and handballs at the local club. If you’re lucky a packet of cheezels might come your way.
This is not overly gender specific. At five the lass, up until now, is just like her brother was – more interested in watching the scoreboard change than pay much attention to the people charging about on the grass. That’s not to say she’s oblivious.
Last year I took her and the lad to a South Australian Women’s Football League (that’s right, SAWFL) game at Thebarton Oval. West Adelaide comfortably accounted for Greenacres; now Crows player, Rachel Killian a standout for the Bloods. As we climbed into the stand to shelter from the rain, the lass said ‘dad, there’s girls out there’.
Things are a bit different now. For starters there’s about 9,000 more people at Thebarton than there was on that dreary July day in 2016. With the AFL and SANFL throwing their collective weight behind women’s footy, people are interested in engaging with the lass and she is returning the attention. Two weeks ago it was waving her umbrella like a flag until the rod snapped as the Crows beat the Giants. Today, for fear of our ever dwindling umbrella supply, her mother procured the lass a Crows flag. All she needed now was an excuse to wave it.
As we make our way with difficulty into the ground (looking a treat, by the way) you wonder how many might have crammed in given a 2.10pm start time. When the cheeks finally cement their place we are just about ready to go. The lass waves her flag without decapitating those in close quarters.
We are in a northern pocket with a generous breeze blowing in the face. Carlton’s end for the odd quarters. As it gets underway it is immediately apparent the Crows are in for a different and sterner test than previous weeks. The Blues (wearing a Sturt colour combo) are more capable of getting to the ball first than our previous opponents and move well into space, hitting targets by foot. Crows marquee, Kellie Gibson, doing her ankle in the first minute of the game does nothing for the spirits either.
Nonetheless the Crows string passages of play together leading to an Erin Phillips shot on goal from a pocket. The wind literally blows it away from the goal, confirming the only way to score down that end is directly in front from within 20 metres. After some strong and dependable Davey work a very dangerous Vescio kicks the first goal.
“Should I wave my flag?”
After quarter time the lass’s flag remains on the deck as both teams miss gettable opportunities. Erin Phillips starts to impose herself on the contest, both in the midfield and up forward but can only put another point on the board.
“Do I wave the flag when we score a point?”
“Generally not but ask a Sydney supporter about 1996”
Sarah Perkins, demonstrating her value to the side, tackles poor Attard into next week (hopefully Trump is no longer US President there) but completely butchers a checkside and the Crows enter the sheds goalless at halftime. The lass vents her flagless frustration by going to the big inflatable footy kicking thing out the back with the lad.
The wind picks up at the start of the third quarter and the Crows need to stop the Blues from getting away. Chelsea Randall steps up to fill the hole at half back, cutting off Vescio’s supply and distributing the ball with that beautiful leg of hers. The Crows are starting to take control but still can’t goal into the wind as the Blues park their defence within 30.
Against the run of play Carlton’s Hosking kicks a goal and suddenly a two goal gap seems huge. The atmosphere is decidedly tense. But finally deep in their forward line, Tex Perkins’s 58th effort sees the ball out of a pack and onto Sally Riley’s boot in the goalsquare. The flag gets a wave, narrowly missing the ear of a nearby octogenarian.
One goal down at three quarter time, the game is there for the taking. Anything is possible with the wind (although, not in polite company) and the Crows coming home with a mildly moist sail. Adelaide dominates the last quarter but just don’t have the cleanness within 50. With each moment so important the lass waves her flag for every mark and tackle. No permission is sought and no-one minds.
Then Erin Phillips, that woman from down Port Adelaide way, gets the ball on the half forward flank. Perkins either unsure or entirely certain of Phillips’s intentions leads out of the goalsquare, taking two defenders with her and leaving it blissfully open. As the ball runs through the goals the crowd erupts. There is much waving of the flag. All that’s left to do now is hold on for 10 minutes.
Adelaide has opportunities to ice the game, but can’t, while Carlton give away needless free kicks – entirely the wrong thing to do in the circumstances (best avoided generally I find). Nonethless they smuggle the ball forward on multiple occasions with only an incredibly brave contest from Georgia Bevan stopping the Blues from running into goal scoring distance. There is so much that is impressive about this group but it is their commitment to the contest, second, third and fourth efforts that has set them apart thus far.
The (only just audible) siren sounds to the greatest acclaim ever given a match that ends 17-14; and well deserved it is too. The lass waves her favourite flag once more for the new flag favourites.
Adelaide 0.0 0.2 1.2 2.5 (17)
Carlton 1.1 1.2 2.2 2.2 (14)
GOALS Adelaide: Riley, Phillips
Carlton: Vescio, Hosking
BEST Adelaide: Phillips, Perkins, Marinoff, Randall, Varnhagen, Riley, Thompson
Carlton: Davey, Vescio, Hosking, Moody, Hardiman, Arnell
OUR VOTES Phillips (Adel) 3, Davey (Carl) 2, Perkins (Adel) 1