AFLW Round 3 – Brisbane v Collingwood: Blind Date
Brisbane vs Collingwood
3.35pm, Sunday, 18th February
South Pine Sports Complex, Brendale
Got myself a date of sorts lined up in the form of a hot new venue. I must confess to knowing next to nothing about the Lady Lion’s official new home ground of The South Pine Sports Complex in Brendale.
I wanted to know a little about my destination before we met. I had tried to find images online of the stadium in the hope of an informal introduction but as far as first dates go, it looks like I’ll be going in blind.
Brendale sits officially outside of the Brisbane city limits, so I’m wondering if perhaps that explains the puzzling lack of Google imagery online. It seems I’ll be heading deep into the eye of a technological black spot, Brisbane’s version of North Korea, only with better haircuts.
Things start poorly when I unintentionally find myself in the sleepy hamlet of Samford. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice enough place with cheerful, smiling locals and I wish them well in their bid for electricity but I’m clearly lost and I have no time to be pawed at by yokels, captivated by my horseless carriage.
Thankfully I haven’t missed my mark by too far and it isn’t long before I see her. Sadly, a promising welcome descends steadily into disappointment. Imagine opening the door to be greeted by your supermodel date… and her parole officer. It’s that kind of let down.
Allow me to explain. The surface itself is immaculate. Manicured and reared to perfection. One could eat their dinner of a surface this even… and looking around at some of the local representatives, I dare say some of them do so on a regular basis. But that’s about where the positives expire.
A patron bustling in beside me worries that with a 2-0 start to the season and Collingwood in town, this might be a standing room only and a lockout! Standing room only doesn’t concern me. You haven’t lived until you’ve had to crowd surf your way to the toilets. As for a lockout, that seems unlikely given the chronic lack of fencing on hand.
Easily negotiating the knee high, security hedge I examine the lay of the land for my optimum vantage point.
The South Pine venue’s philosophy on seating and shelter is largely the same as their views on fencing: Non-existent. There are people here offering more shade than the complex itself is willing to provide.
The club website clearly encouraged patrons not to bring any makeshift constructions that risk blocking the view of those behind them and the people have responded… by bringing sheets, tarpaulins and spinnakers for maximum annoyance. One day I will write a piece outlining my thoughts on humanity. It will not be flattering.
It is hot. Not a single cloud dares venture this far out. It is the sort of perfect blue sky that one associates with postcards of island getaways or Metamucil commercials but not necessarily one favoured by high intensity athletes.
And yet, a woman behind me is wearing black leather shorts. Surely she’s merely passing through on her way to a 50 Shades of Grey convention. I was in the throes of confidently announcing this as the fashion faux pas of the day, when suddenly I spy The Discount Chemist mascot.
This tortured soul sauntered around the ground, in 34 degree heat, waving to disinterested children in a polyurethane bodice. Some jobs just don’t pay enough.
Perhaps he wasn’t waving at all, now that I think of it. Perhaps this was a last futile attempt at a distress signal.
Still, I’ve always said, if you’ve got to go, you may as well be wearing white spandex pants. He’d probably trade his first born for the opportunity to be wearing black leather shorts right about now. Perspective is a funny thing.
The point being, it’s too hot for football. Indian spinners should be operating from both ends in this type of weather. Nobody should be chasing a football in anger. Stamina will be tested.
I myself have played it smart in a venue offering little shade. I have found myself a little nook alongside a light tower. Though I will come in for some punishment in the short term, my intimate knowledge of sundials has taught me that I can expect to be cloaked by full shade within the hour.
This prime real estate comes at a cost though. I have parked myself alongside an apparently tone deaf family, the youngest of whom regales all in the vicinity with a barrage of high pitched whining that would unsettle dogs and humpback whales alike.
Two hired goons see me scribbling on a pad and enquire after my actions. I tell them that I’m John Harms and they bid a hasty retreat. I wouldn’t normally play the Harms card, unless I was trying to get concert tickets or reservations at an exclusive restaurant but I’m far too uncomfortable for the exchange of long pleasantries.
Yet, despite the oppressive heat, it’s fair to say that the atmosphere is buoyant and festive. Young faces are splashed with paint and glitter, jumping castles echo with the joyful squeals and laughter children and reputable food vendors are introducing Gabba regulars to the concept of easily digestible food.
Only minutes from bounce down presents as the perfect opportunity for the malevolent spawn seated next to me to unleash her latest round of shrill and piercing edicts: : “I’m tired!” “I’m hungry!” “I’m the reason some countries insist on a zero child policy.” What a delightful little singing voice she must have. I look to see if any of the vendors are offering vasectomies. They are not.
Both clubs present different approaches to the warm up. Brisbane emerge first and run a series of drills for 10 to 12 minutes. Collingwood briefly appear to have a handful of shots at goal before bidding a hasty retreat back into shadow.
Much of the hype surrounding Moana Hope has yet to be realised in the AFLW, so I am keen to watch her closely today.
The well documented physicality of women’s football explodes from the first bounce in all directions. Tayla Harris and Sabrina Frederick-Traub throw their weight around early, eager to put their stamp on things.
Hope is injured early in a tackle and seeks the refuge of the boundary for treatment. Do Collingwood’s chances limp off with her?
Brisbane squander the breeze in the opening quarter assisted in no small part by a troubling lack of synergy between Brisbane’s two power forwards. Harris and Frederick-Traub are seen flying against each other on multiple occasions, to each others and the team’s detriment.
The second quarter serves up one of the individual highlights of the season. Speedster Kate McCarthy takes possession in space just backward of centre and it is though she has laced the winged feet of Mercury himself to her mortal form. Collingwood on horseback could not hope to catch her. Her own shadow struggles to keep up. The crowd rise in unison. It’s a wonderful moment.
Bates is a terrier in the midfield for Brisbane, whilst captain Zielke and Ashmore are having their best games for the club and it gives Brisbane the edge going in to half time.
My neighbours have now taken to placating The Princess of Darkness with a musical offering. Something from ABC kids called The Fleagles. An Aldi version of The Wiggles I’m lead to believe. Its repetitive musical stylings are siphoned out just loud enough so that adjacent suburbs can also enjoy its splendor.
This, you would think, would be the acrid icing on an already inedible cake that bestows the young lass the crown for most annoying individual performance on the day but, strangely, that is not the case. That honour goes to the hyperactive, would-be auctioneer they’ve employed to be ground announcer for the day.
He floods the ground with an incessant salvo of largely inaudible and incoherent information that goes on for four quarters. There are James Reyne songs easier to understand than this bloke.
A very different Collingwood emerges for the second half.
Sarah D’Arcy becomes the dominant marking player on the ground. This is the revelation Collingwood need. For mine, she is the superior target up front and I can’t help but think that Hope is more a Buddy Franklin type that likes to work opponents under the ball, rather than operate as a key forward. At least at this level anyway.
It’s the physical presence of D’Arcy, along with the toughness of Chiocci and Emma King’s ruck dominance that completely turn this game on its head. Collingwood begin to display a cohesion that suggest that not only could they win this but will steal it at the death.
It is only on the back of another blistering McCarthy fast break in the shadows of full time and another near faultless defensive effort that ensure that Brisbane are able to hang on. With the more organized forward structures of Adelaide and Carlton looming large on the horizon, I ask myself once more if they can keep defending their way to victory.
I will be back next week. I have pledged myself to two more dates with the South Pine Complex which, I now believe, got its name because of how complex it is to get out.
A hatted rube in dirty hi-vis waves me out vaguely, like a one armed Tai-Chi instructor, into one of about 8 possible directions. You had one job. Put your back into it son! The Chemmart Mascot waved with more conviction than this bloke does and he had heat stroke!
I trundle overland for some time, accompanied only by the sporadic sounds of chattering bird life and distant banjos before finally finding my way back to sealed road once more.
South Pine, it was lovely to make your acquaintance. Granted, I was tempted by your flawless exterior at first but I need a little more substance. I just didn’t feel a connection. It’s not you… well, who am I kidding? It is you and I just think it best for both if I was to start seeing other venues again.
Brisbane 1.2 2.2 3.2 4.3 (27)
Collingwood 0.0 0.4 2.4 3.5 (23)
Brisbane – McCarthy 2 Zielke, Frederick-Traub 1
Collingwood – Cameron, Chiocci, D’Arcy 1
Brisbane – Zielke, Bates, Ashmore, McCarthy, Virgo, Hunt
Collingwood – D’Arcy, King, Hutchins, Chiocci, Tesoriero
Umpires: Strybos, Sommerville, Valenti Crowd: 10,000
Our Votes: Zielke (B) 3, D’Arcy (C) 2, Bates (B) 1