AFLW Round 1 – Adelaide v Brisbane: It’s not all about the Vics

Adelaide Crows v Brisbane Lions
Norwood Oval,  3 February 2018,  6.45pm

Verity Sanders


As a kid from the post-war rough and tumble social housing areas of Adelaide’s western suburbs, venturing eastward to watch a game of SANFL at the Norwood Oval was equivalent to a Footscray Bulldogs supporter turning up brazenly with sooty flags unfurled at Glenferrie Oval – reverse snobbery came into play, the tribal instincts kicked in, the nostrils flared with strange new smells of wisteria and privilege (although the Norwood Parade pie cart was very welcoming – the original pop-up food truck) and the rivalry of ages past was spoken by my father for us to commit to memory, including the tale of the preliminary final of 1960 when Norwood brought Port Adelaide’s run of premierships to an end, and Haydn Bunton Jnr (showing that his bravery extended off-field) snuck down to the Port in the dark of night and painted the iconic Black Diamond corner-cop red and blue.


Now living in the far eastern suburbs, my daughter, having attended Norwood High, became a Redlegs supporter with her friends.  Dad would have been fine with that, he believed you link arms with your neighbours – sport being a great leveller and expression of democracy.  (I’m not sure what he would have thought of the Bobble-heads, but I picked up my Chelsea Randall on the way into the ground anyway – for my niece of course).


So ….   (apparently every sentence has to start with ‘So.…’  these days – no idea why, but who am I to buck meaningless trends) – many years down life’s circular track, here we are heading down the Parade (past the excellent independent Dillons Bookshop which has the Almanac and women’s footy books in store – and is owned by former Melbourne and Norwood footballer Ross Dillon) to the beautiful old Norwood Oval with its fountain and shady trees.  The Woodroofe’s Lemonade factory has gone but the blue and red grand-old-flag atmosphere still hangs gracefully in the air.


In 2017 it was assumed by all Victorians and the AFL that, of course, the AFLW Grand Final would be played between two Melbourne-based clubs, probably Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. This was a fair call given the deeper player pool and established women’s leagues in Victoria – and clubs such as Darebin, Diamond Creek, and Melbourne Uni which have doggedly ensured that women’s footy stayed alive and viable despite decades of media ignorance or public indifference (or downright hostility). Much admiration for that.


But as we in the football colonies far far away from the imperial court of Melbourne have always known, we can be very annoying and ungrateful upstarts when the mood takes us – and ignored the memo to behave ourselves and stay out of sight until called upon.  The first GF was played in far flung Queensland, and Adelaide (with our NT allies ) hold the Premiership flag.   As the records show, women’s footy was being played in Kalgoorlie, Adelaide, and Queensland before it established in Melbourne, and clubs like East Fremantle, Morphettville, the Coastal Titans, Belconnen, and many others also kept the torch burning for many years until the women could get to the next level of a national AFL.  So the west-of-Kaniva and north-of-Albury tribes always knew we had a chance in the new competition (just quietly).


This year, I detect more than a denialist hint from the Melbourne commentariat and clubs insisting  that 2017 was just a glitch, an aberration, a once off, no-one-knew what to expect. Katie Brennan and Mo Hope were injured, blah blah blah – and normal viewing will resume as soon as possible ( i.e. which Melbourne club will win the flag in 2018).  They have written off Brisbane and Adelaide already. Brave.


Prior to the AFLW game, a SAFLW curtain raiser between North Adelaide and Norwood played out, which was an excellent display of the new second tier women’s league in SA, which will become the platform to build the next generation of Crows and the future Port Power women’s team – which will no doubt be coached in its inaugural year by one E. Phillips  (any bets on that one? odds are shortening at the Port Admiral Hotel).


Sooo ….. with much delight and noise from the very appreciative crowd, two teams of fantastic young characters ran onto the immaculate Norwood Oval grass to start Act 2 of the AFLW theatre of life.  It was very clear that these women had put in massive time, effort, and sacrifice in the off-season to ensure they provided us with a good spectacle (thank you!) and looked incredibly fit and fiery.  If anyone had any doubts about the ongoing support for women’s footy in Adelaide, the 11,000 strong crowd put those to bed from Sarah Perkins’ first mark – the roar nearly took the roof off the old grandstand.


For Adelaide, the backline generalissimo Courtney Cramey couldn’t shake off injury issues, so the chivalrous Chelsea Randall was selected at half back to play that role, and captained the ship valiantly for the day. The late withdrawal of Erin Phillips with a leg injury – and with Jenna McCormick completing her Adelaide United Reds commitments – Adelaide were faced with a huge challenge before the game had begun. They struggled to restructure and adapt, and while the new recruits showed they will be a wonderful foundation in coming years, the inexperience showed.  The under-rated Rhiannon Metcalfe rucked most of the game and got involved strongly in the field play, but the other tall cogs struggled to find a connection to the wheel.  The debutantes Lugg, Jones, Hewett, and Bigwraps Wallace all showed some real determination and speed in attack – but Adelaide generally chopped the ball around in hope, failed to get targeted clearances, and were too often beaten in the air.


Hatchard and Radan both battled on Sabrina Frederick-Traub during the game, but she is such a tower of power in the forward line, and with a willing troop of goal-focused helpers including newcomers Ally Anderson and Sophie Conway at her feet, showed that Taylah Harris’ absence has simply created more options.  Finding holes in time and space like Einstein, Brisbane fed off each other beautifully, and Bec Goddard later bemoaned the lopsided uncontested possession tally.  Brisbane used handball effectively to get the ball out of scrimmages and into the open. At half time the handball stats told the story – Brisbane 40, Adelaide 11.


At the back end, Kaslar was doing a fine job containing Perkins, in collaboration with Kate Lutkins, and with Ashmore and Bates swapping effectively as the speedy loose player behind the ball, showed why the Lions have one of the best defences in the competition. Both sides applied great pressure and tackling throughout, and there were many exciting passages of play – ultimately it was the old firm of Wuetschner, Ashmore, Bates, McCarthy, Kaslar, and the courageous Zielke who ran over the top of Adelaide.  Both teams are still well in contention this year, but well done Brisbane for getting the job done in hostile territory (sssshhhh!) –  and Adelaide have some re-organising to do.  Loved it.


Adelaide          0.0       3.1       3.1       3.1       (19)

Brisbane          1.2       1.3       3.6       4.7       (31)


GOALS  Brisbane :  Wuetschner 2 , Conway , Ashmore
Adelaide :  Randall , Wallace, Jones

BEST    Brisbane :  Frederick-Traub, Kaslar, Wuetschner,  Zielke, Stanton
Adelaide :  Randall, Metcalfe, Varnhagen, Wallace, Marinoff

UMPIRES   Andrew Crosby, Trent McPhee, Cameron Daw.

CROWD   11,120


VOTES    3   S. Frederick-Traub  (Brisbane)  ;  2   L. Kaslar  (Brisbane ) ;  1  C.   Randall (Adelaide)





  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Loved your report Verity. The message is being received loud and clear. Brisbane had revenge in mind and the Crows were depleted. And loved the set up to your piece.

  2. As a Redlegs person through and through, Verity, the most jarring experience at the Parade was the Port Power pre-season game there a few years back. Only the sound of the cash registers running hot could get us over the shock of so much black and white (& teal) at the Parade. Yeah, Brisbane are still really good and the Crows are comparatively limited when lacking a few key players (though the same could likely be said for most teams). The challenge will be to find ways to spark that run we saw for 10 minutes in the second quarter before the season quickly gets away from us.

  3. Brian Hales says

    Thanks Verity – couldn’t make it to the game so appreciate your commentary. Early days for the Crows !

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