AFLW Round 1 – Melbourne v Brisbane: Singing in the Rain
Melbourne v Brisbane, February 5, 2017
We can learn a lot about Women’s Football from just the opening round. We learn these women are incredibly fit, skilled and determined to grab this opportunity of their own league and run with it.
We can also learn a lot about geography, as 6,500 fans plugged ‘Casey Fields, Cranbourne’ into their devices on Sunday and boggled at the travel times.
People want facts about the match, but emotions are important too. I won’t lie, the tears were flowing on the approach to the Cranbourne turnoff, seeing the traffic banking up with so many fans heading to the game. Plus, I had Polina Gagarina’s 2015 Eurovision anthem, A Million Voices hitting me right in the feels. (She was robbed, ps, but that’s a topic for another day.)
They were pouring in with an hour still to go. Melbourne legend Ron Barassi was in high demand for photo ops and the ‘Demon Army’ handed out pom-poms, banners and flags to the families on the hill behind the goal posts. Dangerous place, just behind the goal posts – it’s where the players hammered in their practice shots. I got a touch, but fumbled. Guess that’s why I’m on my side of the fence.
Once the full-contact audience participation was done, the game kicked off in style. The weather was the biggest player on the day. At the centre bounce (ball toss) the temperature was 26 degrees and as muggy as Satan’s armpit. Melbourne dominated the first quarter, but their nerves and the swirling wind restricted the side to just three behinds – and Brisbane had nothing on the board yet.
Was it nerves that saw Melbourne’s Richelle Cranston take out Brisbane’s Jamie Stanton in the first five minutes? Stanton was down for a while, but she’s made of tough stuff, and just like the Chumbawumba song, she got knocked down and she got up again.
The tables turned big-time in the second quarter – as did the weather. Sorrow-grey clouds rolled overhead, the lights came on, and Jasmine Grierson got the Dee’s first goal. The crowd cheered and the thunder clapped.
Lightning cracked the sky and the umpires halted play. The rain poured in. If you want to feel what it was like, just walk into your shower, fully clothed with shoes on. Then stay there for half an hour. Then switch it off for a minute, then back on again.
Families started going home. I don’t blame them. If they called off the game right now, Melbourne would win by default with their one goal and three points. No such luck, once the worst of the electrical storm passed, they played the last few minutes of the second quarter – and Brisbane started to dominate. The Lions posted a goal. The crowd went mad, and even though I was barracking for Melbourne, I gave the red and blue pom pom a hard shake (which sprayed more water everywhere) because it was a great one. Then Brisbane scored another major and all Melbourne could answer with was a point.
Half time, this was tight, only two points in it, but with the weather this awful, scores were rare.
Also, the tuck shop on the hill ran out of hot food.
Double also, the women’s toilets ran out of paper. I used the men’s because needs must and they were individual cubicles and anyway who cares, right?
A shortened half-time break leading into the third quarter and things went from bad to worse for the Melbourne mob. Two Brisbane supporters behind me were virtually singing in the rain. And why not? Brisbane kicked another point, Melbourne, despite plenty of possessions, couldn’t convert. In fact, Melbourne were scoreless for the entire second half.
A Clash song played in my head: “Should I stay or should I go?” In the end, the answer was simple – as long as they were playing, I was staying. Drenched of body and squelchy of walk, my team, my newly minted team of determined, amazing, inspiring women, were out there. Playing hard. I had the easy job, all I had to do was keep on cheering.
In the fourth quarter, Brisbane kicked two more goals and it was all over. You’d think I’d be crying at the loss, but joy warmed me from within. The official crowd was 6,500, I’d witnessed history and because of the low-scoring match, Melbourne was only in 5th position on the league ladder. Who’s on the bottom? Awww Collingwood! Melbourne meets them next week. I’ll be there, ready to sing.
Scoreboard. With identical scoring shots, Melbourne will have to do something about their accuracy in the games to come.
MELBOURNE: 0.3 1.4 1.4 1.4 15
BRISBANE: 0.0 2.0 2.1 4.1 25
GOALS: Grierson (Melbourne), McCarthy, Campbell, Gibson, Frederick-Traub (Brisbane)
VOTES: 3 – Weather (Melbourne) 2 – Tahlia Randall (Brisbane) 1 – Karen Paxman (Melbourne)