AFLW Dreams Dee-molished, Can AFL Dee-liver?


By Ann Deux



And so it has begun: limbo.


For the supporters of the six teams not participating in this week’s AFLW Grand Final, and especially those whose dreams were only dashed this weekend gone by, it’s a strange time. AFLW isn’t quite over and the other competition hasn’t quite begun. The urge to look ahead, to the AFL men’s, or further (so much further!), to next year’s AFLW season, is strong. The Grand Final itself remains to be enjoyed: a spectacle that excites regardless of your affiliation, as the culminating moment for a league that can never be taken for granted. Yet our minds are called back, to ‘what if’s’, to could-a-beens.


For Dees fan, that throw-in, caught by the breeze, and capitalised upon with undeniable, admirable aplomb by the Dogs, still replays in our heads. Our hearts ache for Daisy, for Newman, for Hickey, for Lampard, for everyone. We know very well that our disappointment and regret is nothing compared to theirs. We wonder about injuries, and umpiring decisions, about missed chances and wasted dominance. About coaching moves and travel times and goal conversion rates and positioning.


About – perhaps a tad dramatically – luck and life and love and loss.


Simultaneously, that previous hope, ever-present but mostly set aside for the seven scorching rounds of Summer and Autumn, begins to flicker, calling our attention. Our focus turns, not completely, and perhaps with some reluctance (or possibly not at all), from one to the other. Autumn and Winter loom, and the possibility of Spring.


We turn from the forward presence of one #1 to another, from Cunningham to Hogan. We tear our eyes from the ink of Jakobsson to the arm art of Jones. We relive the #5 class of O’Dea in the poise of Petracca. We watch the pride in the #11 pass from Duryea to Gawn. We re-direct our awe in the natural ability of Smith to the instinctive play of Oliver. We re-focus from the feats of Hore to those of her one-time juniors foe in Hunt.


We carry across one set of percentage-scars and place them forlornly next to the other sets. We take the one foot we had in the Grand Final and line it up forlornly next to the other ‘one foots’ we’ve momentarily dangled in other past races for glory.


We turn from an underdog competition, the very existence of which is continually questioned, which feels so different in its familiarity and revolutionary in its spirit, to one that benefits from decades upon decades of development, and investment, and that irreplaceable ingredient in the making of all greatness: time.


We turn our attention to another chance at a premiership flag, to that ever-renewed hope, to that long-held fantasy, or perhaps – we understandably fear – dee-lusion.


But all the while that other flame will keep burning, across fields in the VFLW, in painstaking recovery from ACLs, in the quandaries of those caught between codes, and in the minds of leaders striving to find that extra one per cent next time around.


And come February (fixture pending), regardless of how brightly the AFLM flame has burnt, like a phoenix from the ashes, AFLW’s Demons will emerge from those fiery depths of hell and dare to dream again.



  1. Yvette Wroby says


    I love this. You capture it all, the flick between the AFLW and AFLM, the hope that burns bright, the disappointment and sadness (and awareness that it is even worse for the players) and time. The AFLW needs time and patience. And resources. Thanks for your contribution.

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