The 2017 Kit O’Neill Cup – Adelaide Crows v GWS Toranas
The 2017 Kit O’Neill Cup
Adelaide Crows v GWS Toranas
Thebarton Oval, 1635 ACDT, Saturday
Lacking pay-teev at home, I went to the pub to watch the game. It’s a good pub, my local, even named after me. Sort of, the Earlwood Hotel is a very blokey pub, the front bar full of old blokes watching the races and laying bets, the smokers’ lounge full of hi-vis shirts and muddy boots. I arranged a screen for myself in a corner near the gee-gees action and settled down – to watch half the Carlton-Collingwood match.
It dawned on me that 1635 was the local starting time. On top of that, the screen was eight foot up the wall and there was no sound. So what? I thought. I don’t need commentary to watch the game. There was no lack of ambient noise.
“Come on Sunday, get up Sunday! Come on Sunday, get up Sunday!!
Could be a song in that
“You see him run? They came out of the gates,
It stayed three wide, it stayed three wide, it stayed three wide!”
There’s a great rhythm there, one you’ll hear in pubs with racing.
Carlton were good, Collingwood couldn’t get their hands on the ball. About time Blues fans had something to cheer about. Actually, the Blues were better than I expected. While the women’s match last year was a cracker, it was an all-stars game and I’d figured that with eight teams the quality might be diluted too much.
Bright light outside, sunlight slanting through the glass doors, the match got underway. Thebarton’s a beautiful oval, trees surrounding the ground. Physical game to start with, Toranas could keep ahold of the ball and get it forward but were unable to capitalise. The Crows went end to end for the first goal.
I was sitting on a stool at a high table and felt a presence, looked around and it was one of the old blokes, staring at the screen quizzically – or maybe he was mystified. Women playing football? He turned back to the races.
The Crows backline was solid, they mopped up everything. Late in the first, Toranas seemed to be on top but that shifted in the second. 3.6 to 0.2, Crows definitely on top and you’d think the Toranas team had only met for the first time in the Thebarton lockerrooms. The lack of commentary became problematic, I can’t identify any of these players, know little about them. Amanda Farrugia, I can pick her and she seems to be everywhere, like Paul Kelly in ’93, doing everything to keep the team going.
Halftime, I hit the Smokers’ Lounge and I got back just to see the Crows kick their sixth. 6.6 to 0.2. It’s bloody expensive watching footy in the pub, I went home.
Sloppy skills, like a 70s VFL match, but that’s to be expected. The teams are a combination of amateur Australian Footballers and professionals from other sports. They haven’t trained together much, but the team play will improve over the next few weeks as they get used to it.
If the skills were lacking, the intent was not. We can accept poor skills from our sport teams as long as they have a go – there was no lack of spirit. Given the chance, these women have grabbed it and run. The connection with professional clubs is great, the players will have an opportunity to learn, work on their mistakes, take advice and I reckon there’ll be a few unscheduled practices in parks and schools this week.
The crowds will likely drop off next week, and more the week after, but this is a long term plan. Compared to other sports, the AFL are late to the party but they have the clout to make this work, like no other sport in the country.
On a cost/benefit standing, it’s gotta be a winner. The investment is miniscule compared to GC and GWS, the connection with existing clubs means that infrastructure is already there. We mayn’t see a packed MCG for an AFLW match, but it will find its place. Five years, there’ll be youngsters who’ve been afforded the opportunity to aim for playing at the highest level, working with the best trainers and staff, learning from the coaches and players in the AFL, from the women who are already there, the potential in the AFLW is enormous.
The one difference that struck me is body shape. Women have wider hips, a lower centre of gravity. With increasing professionalism, would this mean a team of Andrew McLeods? Down the line, it could well be a whole new take on Australian Football
It’s great to watch. They play the game, like the Matildas and the Jillaroos play the game. It’s hard fought football and it don’t matter if they’ve an X or Y chromosome, it’s a competition and they’re giving it their all.
ADELAIDE Crows 1.3 3.6 6.6 7.6 (48)
GWS Toranas 0.1 0.2 0.3 1.6 (12)
Adelaide: Phillips 3, Randall, Gibson, Varnhagen, Perkins.
Adelaide: Marinoff, Randall, Phillips, Gibson, Varnhagen,
GWS: Barr, Farrugia, McWilliams, Dal Pos
Official crowd: 9250
3 – Phillips; 2 – Farrugia; 1 – Varnhagen
Catherine ‘Kit’ O’Neill was Gran, my paternal grandmother. I don’t know if she played football, like her husband, but I’m sure she would have been a ferocious tennis player. In Canberra, 1930s, Grandad was in Parliament House negotiating on behalf of the unions. A crowd of women were outside, making their presence known on a cold, wet day. A messenger was sent to ask Kit to come inside. “I’m not coming in unless all the women can come in.” She stayed outside.