AFL Women’s (Practice Match) – Collingwood v Western Bulldogs: When a practice match feels like a party.

Collingwood v Western Bulldogs (Practice Match)

Olympic Park

Thursday 26th January 2017, 6.30pm



Denise, Yvette, David and Harriet



I love going to the footy, and travelling to the practice match at Olympic Park oval, snuggled between the Holden Centre and AAMI Stadium, was wonderful.  I trammed my way in, walked in the afternoon sunshine across from the Arts Centre Precinct, through the parklands and across the Yarra River. I found my sister Denise with the best seats in the house: we were in the shade, seated on a wooden bench, outside the Glasshouse café/bar and when the game started we could stand up on the bench and see EVERYTHING. I had my Doggies cap and she had a scarf waiting for me.  We were Doggies and we were comfortable, though she did have to give me a hand getting up and down from the bench.


And before us, the AFL women’s teams were doing their warm ups and afterwards, running out for the game. We had perfect positions on the wing, seeing the centre bounce and the game start.  It was a bit scrappy, and low scoring, and I thought I needed two things: a Footy Record like they have put out for the men published preseason by the AFL (the Fantasy one) so I could get to know all the players better, and binoculars so I could actually see what was happening on the far side.  There were no visuals on big screens to help us, and when I did tune into the wonderful GirlsPlayFooty station on my phone, the digital delay made it hard to follow, so I turned it off.  It did give me a score though. (That’s why when I went to watch the St Kilda Sharks play I stood right next to the control desk and listened to the commentary in real time!)


So note to self: remember to take my radio to the games as they are being broadcast, and ring up the AFL and bug them about a program. (Done and done.) Surely, one must be on the way.  A program of some kind to help us learn all these new footballers, in every team.


During the first quarter, the Bulldogs women pulled ahead, it was one goal to one point for the Pies. The crowd was about 1500-2000, and some tennis people had even wondered over to have a look.  There were Pies and Doggies gear everywhere. At quarter time, the ground was flooded with spectators listening to the various coaches direct the players.


Some bloke came past Denise to congratulate her on the Doggies premiership and to have a natter.  Almanacker David J came to find me too, and ended up standing up on the bench with us.  Like I said, very cool view.  David is involved and a supporter of the Darebin Falcons, and when two of their past players/organisers came and chatted, we were introduced to Harriet and President Aleisha. Awesome women, whom we chatted to and I encouraged to write for the site.  To help us to know the players out there. Aleisha chatted to a group of women in front of us – who turned out to be Emma, Lucy, Danae and Megan from the Outer Sanctum, who had retweeted the Almanac’s call out for writers for the women’s game. I introduced myself to these fine women as well.  Just cos that’s what I do. And Danae is a Freo supporter and so I encouraged her to jump on board.  They are few and far between in Melbourne.


Meanwhile, it was a tough game, and there was some super tackling.  Missed opportunities. Great effort. Doggies were ahead by a goal at half time. The players left the ground and I got another message from another Almanacker Jack and he’d find us at ¾ time.  Meanwhile, we were having lovely chats all around.  David Rodan (Richmond, Port Adelaide and Melbourne FC) was standing next to Denise and asked her whether she knew any of the players.  Denise said we were just here to watch the game, and he thought that was cool.  His sister, ex basketballer Helen Rodan was playing for Collingwood as a rookie listed player.  I said to him, had she come and watched him play?  He said she had, and I replied, well, you have to come and watch her games now too.  He laughed, and he and his family enjoyed watching the game in front of us. (Helen had played in an EJ Whitten Legend game 2016, and he’d been an umpire or trainer, siblings attending the same game. )


There was an older chap to the left of us who seemed to have a better grip on the scores, and in the third quarter, Collingwood kicked ahead.  Moana Hope was the only Pie that I recognised, how can you not, but she was quieter than we all expected. (Quieter than the times I’d watched her at the Sharks games.)


Almanacker BringBacktheTorp also recognised me from past functions and said g’day as he wandered by.


Jack found us and stood up on the bench next to Denise.  We had quite a party up there now, Jack, Denise, me, David and Harriet and later Aleisha . I even asked for a photo to be taken (before Jack and Aleisha joined us) and the photographer was one of the Outer Sanctum mob.  I was having a rocking afternoon/evening.


Doggies kicked away in the last, the ball stayed mostly up their end and they were more accurate and able. In a low scoring but very contested game, every point was meaningful. When the siren went, we cheered. Another Doggies win, though I had found myself cheering for the Pies a lot during the game. Cheering for good play.  I think I was just so emotional and joyous to be here and watching it all. I think I would have cheered for anything tonight.


Everyone flooded onto the field, and I found Leesa Catto from the St Kilda Sharks and we chatted as she reported via a phone call, to Susan Alberti (in Canberra) how the game went, how the women performed, injury reports and so forth.  Susan wanted to know everything.  Without her, we wouldn’t be here.


I asked Leesa where Brittany Bonnici was and she pointed her out.  Leesa had just said g’day.  I introduced myself, I’d talked to her family and have told her story in my soon to be published book of my footy journey of 2015.  Then I had chatted to her grandparents and father while watching the Sharks, and witnessed Brittany injure herself in an incredibly brave act of defence.  She stopped the ball leaving the Sharks forward line, which guaranteed their win. “It’s in my book”, I told them.  The family remembered me from the footy that day, scribbling down notes.  They wanted a copy so I gave them my card. Brittany asked if I was going to change who I supported: what a mixture I am…Saints gear, Doggies gear.  I couldn’t go to the dark side of Collingwood, I said.  Some things are just too hard.  But I will be barracking for all my Sharks who are playing for every team. Brittany was delightful, and I will be barracking for her a bit too. In women’s football, I find myself a tad colour blind.


How great is this afternoon/night? I’d lost Leesa into the crowds, the players were surrounded by family and friends and I found mine – my great sister and mate Denise.  David had left, and Jack said goodbye.  We’d all meet again.


Denise and I cruised home down the river to Swanston Street, enjoying the post-game experience. Walking back from the footy.  Feeling well sated. Enjoying our chats.  Each other’s company. The significance of it all. The joy at watching young, healthy women doing what they love.  And being supported and appreciated for their effort.


Somewhere in all this happiness, I had lost my Myki card, and hoped the footy gods were still with me as I travelled home.  Sitting next to me, two young women were not sure of the route, and I directed them, which led to, you guessed it, a footy conversation and an exchange of details.  The young lady next to me is a basketballer and friends will be playing AFL.  Another new writer! What a way to end the day, and no inspectors either.


We will be at the Doggies Women’s function on Monday night, and at the first game of AFL footy at the changed venue, Ikon Park Friday night.  What a wonderful time we are having.  A time for celebration of wonderful women and the people who made this possible.


(Note to all:  SEN1116 paper Inside Football is now monthly and has the guide to every women’s team now published in its first paper of 2017.  Just what is needed and worth the coinage.)



Collingwood: 3.3 21

Western Bulldogs: 4.7.31


Collingwood: Bernardi , King, Hope

Western Bulldogs: Tyndall 2, Kearney, McLeod.


About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.


  1. bring back the torp says

    Lovely account of the game, Yvette! It was entertaining, tackling very fierce!

    I saw Mike Sheehan there, I think his daughter was playing. He was accompanied by Diesel Williams.

    Your estimate of 1500-200, has that been reported elsewhere?

    You mentioned you’re writing a book on women’s footy. Would you care to give a little bit more info. on its content?

Leave a Comment