AFLW Round 4: GWS v Western Bulldogs: To Henson Park and beyond




When I first moved to Sydney, Marrickville was working class, cramped and ‘ethnic’. It had a broken down rugby league club called the Newtown Jets who had just been punted from the top tier, the NSWRL.  They had played at Henson Park. Henson had once hosted the Empire Games. But that was many years ago. It had a tiny grandstand, almost no parking and you walked out the gate to be tipped into the main street. You could take your life in your own hands to drink in the neighbouring Henson Park Hotel. 


If someone had said that there would be women playing Australian Rules footy there one day in a round to support sexual inclusion, the blokes at the Henson Park Hotel would have looked deep into their beer and would have been polite enough not to embarrass you by responding.


But that’s exactly what was happening  on a baking Friday afternoon. We were meeting Izzy and her dad and we weren’t alone. There was a queue to get in and a real sense of escape from the languor of the time.


It was a hard game to tip. As if to underscore the times, the Bulldogs haven’t played for almost three weeks and the Giants were missing four because of Covid.  The Giants have been absolutely smashed in the last two games by Fremantle  and North Melbourne. Whoever lost this game was going to start  falling back. Whoever won was still in with a chance. 


The Dogs attacked early but lacked polish close to goal. The Giants didn’t and they knocked off three straight goals to one goal, four behinds in the first quarter. The theme didn’t vary much in the second but the example set by Cora the Great when she kicked back around her body and split the posts really typified the difference. The Giants were almost four goals up by half time.


The Dogs came back in the third. They had almost all the ball but only kicked one goal. There was only two goals in it and there was that sense that they could snaffle it with a good last quarter but it wasn’t to be. The Giants pushed themselves in the final quarter and when Barr kicked another the door closed for the Dogs. Had they kicked straight they would have won but that wouldn’t have told the real story. The Giants’ defence worked too hard and the forwards were too clean. Throw in three goals by Barr and the Giants were a class ahead on the day.


It’s been a great game but there was a greater story. Marrickville was no longer poor. The Greeks had moved down the road to the bigger blocks of Earlwood. My wife had been involved in setting up the womens’ competition in Sydney when no one wanted to know about it. Newtown now had a women’s team called the Breakaways. Tanya who was staffing their stall was looking at retiring  and girls like Izzy were clocking up 50 games before they finished high school. In years to come, girls like Izzy will be coaching local teams in suburbs that didn’t have an oval with goal posts when she was born. 


It’s an inspiring story. It’s still playing out and it’s still being told. So too the Giants.  Their season has a few more pages to turn.






Read more stories about Henson Park from Almanac writers HERE



GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     3.0     5.1     5.1     7.1     (43)
WESTERN BULLDOGS                 1.4     1.4     2.8     2.10     (22)


Greater Western Sydney: Barr 3, Stephenson 2, Staunton, Doyle
Western Bulldogs: Cranston, Blackburn


Greater Western Sydney: Barr, Parker, Eva, Pease, Grierson
Western Bulldogs: Brown, Cranston, Blackburn, Fitzgerald


Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Nil


Reports: Nil



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  1. Nice to see new chapters being written in the suburbs – and the Giants have a big hill to climb, but they’ve defied expectations before!

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