AFLW Grand Final – Western Bulldogs v Brisbane Lions: All Ironed Out

12.35 pm, 24 March 2018
Ikon Park (Princes Park), Carlton, Victoria


It’s been a particularly difficult week for feminists who have been in the feminist trenches for a very long time (I’m old).  And so, I thought, the logical thing to do would be to get back in my box and start ironing.  The television set was on in the middle of the day (a definite no-no in our household) and the ironing board was ready to go.





An early word about Katie Brennan. I know the CEO of the AFL has denied that the organisation is sexist – and I’d have to say that, generally, he has been great at leading in this space – nevertheless there is no doubt that if the incident had occurred in the AFLM, a fine would have been the punishment. As has been pointed out, the women don’t earn enough to be fined. I’m not the smartest tool in the shed, but I wondered why a pro rata calculation couldn’t be developed. Let’s assume that, for argument’s sake, Bob Murphy earns $500,000 and Katie Brennan earns $30,000.  Katie’s pay is .06 of Bob’s. If the standard fine is $3,000 then Katie should have been required to pay $180. How hard is that?


In this week last year, we didn’t know when or what time the grand final would be on until late Monday or early Tuesday. That was when we started buying our plane tickets and ascertaining hotel vacancies. “It just wouldn’t happen to the men” was the plaintive cry. Oh well, we were in new territory so accommodated the poor planning and the fact that the AFLW grannie was being played as a curtain raiser to the first AFLM game for the season. Interestingly, there were more people at the grannie than at the AFLM. Might have been a bit of a hint to the AFL.


And again, we found out last Sunday that the game would be played at Princes Park mid-afternoon.  Later, the AFLW put out a statement breathlessly announcing that there was good news: the game would be played at 12.35 pm. What an insult. This time last year, the administrators should have booked Etihad for Saturday evening. This would have enabled the roof to be closed, Missy Higgins to sing her heart out, and a game that wasn’t affected by the weather to be played and witnessed.


Disappointingly, the crowd was just over 7,000 in a stadium that can take well over twice that number.  The weather and the time were against a good turnout. Here’s some free advice for the AFL: book Etihad now for next year’s grannie. Tell ‘em you’ll be closing the roof.  And you want people to be able to enter from about 4.30 pm for a 7 ish start. You’re welcome.


Oh, and when you’re negotiating the television rights, perhaps we could have the grannie on a high definition station. The vision for this grand final was rubbish as was the sound; that is, once I put the iron down and scrolled through all the stations to find the match as it wasn’t on the 7 flagship.


Aside from the game itself which I would suggest the AFL had nothing to do with, there was one other good thing for this year. A young girl tossed the coin. Phew:  we were able to find a girl in this vast country (last year’s coin toss was done by a bloke, who was no doubt noble and honourable, but the optics were terrible).


As I ploughed through the ironing, the commitment of these brave women was extraordinary. As was Samantha Lane’s whose hair had gone dead flat in the teeming rain. I was looking forward to seeing Sabrina make her mark, but today was not her day. While Monique Conti got the votes for best on ground, for my money Emma Kearney seemed to be in everything, as was Ellie Blackburn.


The weather really did play havoc with the play, to the point that neither side scored in the second quarter while Brisbane didn’t score between the first and final quarters. There were many slips and spills that tested not just the fitness of these warriors, but the very fabric of their structure. Campbell suffered a neck injury and I was surprised there weren’t more serious injuries. Oh for a dry Etihad at the end of the day…


It was a low scoring affair with a big crowd around the ball. Again, the mystery of when a player will be pinged for holding the ball versus handing the ball to the umpire for a ball up was well in play. I look forward to a bit of consistency next year.


As with last year, there was a goal in it when the final siren closed the 2018 AFLW season. The statistics showed that Brisbane should have won this dour affair: more kicks, more handballs and more disposals. The Lions’ disposal efficiency was 59% compared with the Doggies at 51%. I suppose all this proves is what Bec Goddard said last year: statistics are like a light post for a drunk person; they’re going to support you to a point but they’re not going to show you the way home.


The quality of my ironing suffered as a result of the intensity of this game. I might need to take it to the local laundry to re-do.


Western Bulldogs       0.1       0.1       3.2       4.3(27)
Brisbane Lions             1.1       1.1       1.1       3.3(21)


Western Bulldogs       Berry, McLeod, Conti, Kearney
Brisbane Lions             Wuetschner 2, Conway


Kearney 3, Blackburn 2, Wuetschner 1


UMPIRES  Mirable, Howorth, Adair


CROWD 7,083

About Anne Cahill Lambert

One of the first females to be admitted to membership of the G. Thank you Mr Cain. Nicknamed The Hyphen by Alamanac Editor, despite the fact I don't have one.


  1. Verity Sanders says

    I laughed with great sympathy Ann – my ironing just isn’t getting done this weekend ( or that’s my excuse anyway – and envious of your beautiful old iron there). I’m not sure if the proportionate cash payment would be a good option, as $180 would not be a disincentive to a dangerous tackle ( the potential damage to the head doesn’t change unfortunately ) – these details have only become discussion points because the overall AFLW program is distorted by its semi-professional nature, the short season, and shortage of AFL strategic planning and resourcing overall (or it seems that way). Fortunately, they’ll move to a 14 round season in 2020, which will mean the women will have to be paid as professionals (as effectively 6 months of their year will be full time footy), and things will start to level out, as has happened in soccer and cricket. The clubs will also have to take their AFLW licences seriously, which most are doing really well – although Carlton need to have a look at themselves – and perhaps the Bulldogs legal team who embarassed themselves this week. I think this will be just one of many many issues that will be worked through – but its a problem I’d like to have – it means the AFLW is developing and evolving in all its sometimes messy glory. On a separate topic you raised, I know there were some issues around weather and scheduling etc for the GF, but a significant issue worth looking at is – why aren’t Victorians going to watch women’s footy ? ( not just this game). Crowds in all other states have been fantastic this year, and I bet when North play an AFLW game or two in Tassie next season, it’ll be HUGE. A bit of work is needed around developing a dedicated site for women’s footy in Melbourne – I know that the return to suburban ovals is a great thing , but maybe choose one suburban oval and prepare it specifically for women’s footy ( and in the context of playing footy as a summer sport ), as Melbourne is a key region for supporting the code into the future. And can I throw a wobbly out there for next year ? I’m not a gambler, but odds on Emma Kearney will be the inaugural captain and development coach of the 2019 North Melb/Tassie team – given her Melb Uni links. Any other former Muggers likely to be attracted to North ? Watch for the next episode in the fabulous history of the AFLW.

  2. I’d say keep an eye on Mo Hope, Verity. She’s been a Mugar for the last season or so & there’s been interesting discussion about her future.

  3. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    Thanks Verity.
    Look, the kids have sport on Saturday mornings. It’s just impossible for families to be at Princes Park at that hour of the day.
    Then throw into the mix the lousy weather !

    This was an impossible ask.

  4. bring back the torp says


    Are you suggesting that Melb. only have one, specialist oval for the AFLW? In a word (or 3) NO, NEIN, NADA!

    One of the great appeals of the AFLW, apart from getting our much needed summer footy fix with an entertaining, fiercely contested women’s footy game, is the ol’ time joy & nostalgia of returning to old VFL grounds.

    Coll.FC, which is supposed to be promoting the AFLW & female AF, has been derelict in not hosting all games at the mighty Vic. Park. It has FAR superior facilities, seating, shelter, & good elevated sight lines cf. the dump at Olympic Park. It also has triple the capacity, & would probably attract crowds of 10-15,000 (Footscray, a smaller Club, gets crowds of c.6,000).

    It is understandable that Melb. FC wishes to develop its supporter base in the outer eastern suburbs -but such a distant location is not conducive to big crowds. Is there another oval in the eastern suburbs a bit closer in that could accomodate a big AFLW crowd? An old VFA ground?

    Arden St has not retained its old grandstand, nothing is left. It has no seating and is flat. NM/Tas. should, IMO,in Melb. play at Princes Park.

    I hope RFC, St K, & EFC AFLW sides play at their old VFL home grounds -they could average 5-8,000 very easily; & bigger crowds could be scheduled for Princes Park.

    I agree with you about Footscray’s “sexual discrimination” case. It is wrong, embarassing, & will be fodder for those who like to malign the AFLW.
    A sling tackle, or dumping someone forcefully into the ground, can cause a neck injury, concussion, or break bones. They should be completely ERADICATED from the game -& HEAVY penalties must apply. For people to suggest a fine for AFLW players of c. $180 is adequate for such serious offences is simply stupidity ;or a cunning ploy to completely discredit female AF and destroy the game as a mass participant sport.

    I would like the AFLW GF to be played on a Fri. night, with only JLT matches on the Sat. & Sunday: it needs clean media air to maximise crowds/ratings/media attention. The AFLW will be “smothered” whenever it plays in the main H & A AFL season. The AFLW must, obviously, start earlier.

    The AFLW has had a good year, & great crowds generally (averaging c.6500) -but TV ratings have been disappointing. Should we avoid playing when the BBL is on? Ratings (& all important many goals being kicked, which allow TV ad breaks) are crucial if some players wish to receive full time, professional well paid status. Entry charges are also essential -perhaps $5 per adult?

    Most importantly, skills have noticeably increased when played in dry weather. Continuous skill increases over the next 10 years, across the whole List (& particularly bottom 4 players) will guarantee the AFLW has a very bright, professional future. It will, IMO, become Aust.’s most popular, professional female sport in the next 2 years (It is, arguably, now).
    Super Netball is currently its strongest competitor. When W League games are played stand alone, their crowds are generally less than 1,000 (They count crowd nos. who arrive a bit early for A League games when double headers are played). I doubt the WBBL & WNBL will attract strong crowds, if played stand alone, in the near future.

  5. Rick Kane says

    Loved your match review Anne. I agree with so many points. Being a Melbourne supporter (because the Hawks aren’t in it yet) I reckon Casey Fields is as ridiculous a ground to play at as you could dream up. This is not to attack that suburban ground. But when you schedule a fixture there for Sunday at 5pm just how many people are you trying to entice to the game. Seriously. Two seasons in and the AFL has got so many things wrong, been derelict in its guardianship responsibilities so many times and on several occasions almost seemed to deliberately want to see this grand project fail and yet here we are beaming about the success of the competition and the groundswell of interest by females of all ages to play the game.

    So please, keep up your great efforts, critiquing the developments and keep on reviewing the games. Because, no matter what else, we are living in exciting times with the development of the AFLW and the revolution of women’s footy.


  6. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    Rick: snap. I’m a Hawk through and through but my niece made me support for Adelaide, which I’ve been very happy to do. And thanks for your encouragement.

    Verity/Bring Back The Torp: Casey Oval is just too far away, unless you live in that area. This competition is encouraging people to travel from interstate. Just think about Tullamarine to Casey on public transport. It’s a disaster. We do need to rethink the ovals, including use of Punt Road and Victoria Park. But the grand final ought to be given a chance to shine in fine weather, ergo Etihad!

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