AFLW Round 1 – Carlton v Collingwood: Ticketing 101


Carlton versus Collingwood

7.45, Friday 02 February
Ikon Park, Melbourne


I made my way to Princes Park from my Brunswick East apartment at about 4.30pm. It’s a ten-minute walk and the game started at 7.45pm. Why so early? Was I nervous about the crowds that produced a lock out in 2017?




Was I also desperate to be one of the first 1000 people through the gates to get a Brianna Davey bobble head?


Yes. Very much so.


I am a marketer’s dream and for someone who worked in sports marketing for a long time, it’s  incredible how I am seduced by it – I want the stuff!


Upon arrival at the ground, I was instantly in a panic when lines of hundreds of people were already snaking around the venue.


I wandered up towards the gates and an attendant showed me two lines, one to receive the bobble head, one to just go through the gates. I made my way to the end of the bobble head line, convincing myself there wasn’t a thousand people in front of me, only a few hundred, and I waited.


Then disaster.


The attendants came back through the line telling fans that after they collected their bobble head, they would still need to go join another line to get inside. Panic set in and people flocked to a line in front of a gate, terrified they might be locked out and giving up on their quest of getting a bobble head. I remained true and focused, my eye on the prize as I moved up in the line. I collected my beloved Bri and raced to a further away gate with a shorter line to get inside. I’d made it.


While it all sounds a bit silly – it really got me thinking about the ticketing, or lack thereof, for AFLW matches.


In this week’s This AFL Life podcast, Julia Chiera made some really interesting points about how not only does having AFLW games as free entry send the message that these matches are not considered elite and professional, considering that you must pay for access to the new hybrid AFLX and the pre-season JLT Community matches. It also excludes people who aren’t able to line up for hours on end to secure a seat. Those with mobility issues, work commitments, the elderly and people with young children. It also makes the fan engagement activations limited and somewhat irrelevant. I was determined to get my mini-Bri but many others were only too easily persuaded to move lines to be guaranteed entry.


The anxiety around the stadium was frantic as people decided not to purchase AFL Records and merchandise to keep their place in line. There were sponsor activities and competitions but no one was paying attention, everyone was nervous, the desperation to get inside ruining the excitement leading up to the game. The answer to alleviate this stress: ‘Just let us buy tickets!’, as JC would say.


Not only would this allow people to arrive at a time more appropriate than three hours before bounce down, it gives you peace of mind and the ability to enjoy the atmosphere, as well as hopefully contribute to the salary of the severely underpaid athletes.


After I was able to calm myself  by finally making it inside, I could enjoy the start to the new AFLW Season that was unfolding before me.


Despite a relatively low-scoring affair, both teams looked fitter and harder at the ball than the previous season. The addition of Tayla Harris to the Blues was a boon and her magnetic mitts were something to marvel at. Star forward Vescio had a quiet night, well contained by an aggressive Collingwood defence but she was not as quiet as former captain, Lauren Arnell who ended the night on zero disposals. Davey was valiant in her new role at the helm, topping her side’s disposal with 16. My bobble head and I watched watched her with awe.


Collingwood’s Chloe Malloy was a standout on debut in the losing side with 20 disposals and despite Jasmine Garner continuing to make her mark on the game’s history by slotting the first goal of the first game of the season, as she did in the inaugural game, history also repeated itself in a Carlton victory.


The crowd was 5, 000 shy of last year’s lockout with the official attendance recorded at 19,852. So we didn’t need to stress about not being let in to the ground and arrive three hours early in the end but this number is still more than reason enough to pre-sell tickets.


But for now I have my bobble head Bri and memories of another packed stadium of people supporting women playing my favourite game so I’m happy for now. Just let me buy a ticket next year!



CARLTON              2.1   3.1   3.4   3.4   (22)
COLLINGWOOD    1.0   2.1   2.1   2.2   (14)


 Shierlaw, Harris, Downie
Collingwood: Garner, Barden

 Harris, Davey, Hardiman, J.Hosking, S.Hoskin
Collingwood: Molloy, Chiocci, Lambert, McIntosh, Garner

About Kasey Symons

Kasey Symons a writer and PhD Candidate at Victoria University. Her research is focused on gendered issues in sports cultures (primarily AFL) at a fan level. Kasey is a born and raised Victorian who barracks for the West Coast Eagles and yes, she knows that is weird.


  1. Admire your determination, Kasey. And some interesting points here.
    Maybe charging a nominal fee ($2? $5?) is the answer. this would allow tickets to be pre-sold (as is happening at the new Perth stadium).

    Now, I await with interest the reports on the actual footy. To say that social media discussion was polarising would be an understatement.

  2. Jennifer Muirden says

    Great write up, Kasey and bravo Yvette on mindfully taking that terrific AFLW skywriting pic which rightfully graces today’s home page of The Footy Almanac website!

    It was a pleasure to meet up and spend the afternoon and evening with both of you two, Denise, John, Marion, Kirby, Matt, Kate, Cilla (sp?) et al.

    Interesting enough Kasey, I arrived at Princes Park even earlier than you at 4:10 pm (!!) and went directly to the start of the Gate 6 queue where I had no problems with obtaining my Brianna Davey bobblehead since they came out of their way to hand them out to us. I’ll be honest and admit I was hoping for my very own Darcy Vescio bobblehead but am ultimately grateful for something that was gratis and more significantly is a fitting memento of the Navy Blues victory in the AFLW 2018 Season Opener that I was privileged to attend.

    That said, I’ve got to say that I was disappointed with the 19,582 attendance. So much for the anticipated lockout! End of the day, Blues were 8 point victors in a fast-paced, very low scoring game. The pre-match tunes, not to mention the brilliant half-time entertainment with Alex Lahey, totally rocked Princes Park and undoubtedly was far superior to what’s served up at Etihad or the MCG for AFLM.

    Cannot wait to attend my next AFLW game and bring on 2020 when the mighty Saints Women’s team will finally join the competition!

  3. Kasey Symons says

    Thanks Smokie.

    I am wading through a lot of conversation on the game through social today as well – very interesting stuff.

    Was so lovely to meet you last night Jen – I was clearly not early enough to be in prime position like you! It was a great crew last night to enjoy the game. Pressure from both teams was excellent but the rushed decision making, errors and turnovers were too high and made scoring in the second half impossible.
    Hopefully both teams will be able to settle by next round and the scoring attempts will rise.

    And I too will be counting down to 2020 for my Eagles to join the comp!!

  4. Yvette Wroby says

    First in, best dressed, for both you and Jenn. Missed out on the bobble head but enjoyed the company and the game. I would love to watch a game of men from 1920’s to see the skill levels etc. When the game just started they didn’t have social media, full on press, millions of viewers and snarky commentating. Yes there were mistakes, yes there were misses, but that’s what makes it such a great comp. Collingwood were in it, it could have gone either way, and it held my attention. We could watch some improve and shock and surprise, and others disappoint. Welcome to footy.

    Great report Kasey

  5. John Butler says

    Onya Kasey.

    Bobble head Bri looks almost as imposing as in the flesh.

    We must have got there just before you. The AFL presence outside gate 6 looked a little unsure what it was trying to achieve. As Jen said, first they were handing out merch, then decided to create an extra queue. You can’t have enough queues, apparently.

    One person came around to say that the gate 5 queue was shorter. That was the only information relayed before the gates opened.

    From an AFL perspective, the absence of ticketing also leaves them completely guessing on the crowd. I think it showed.

    Great to meet you and the posse last night. Had fun.


  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great write up Kasey,
    I went along with Almanacker and Bluesman, Peter Fuller. First time for me and I loved it, even though my beloved Pies got done again. Had no trouble getting in at 7pm and found a nice seat in the shade near the interchange bench.
    The first thing that struck me was the amount of youngsters who had the numbers of AFLW players on their Guernseys. Emma King was a particular fave among Collingwood faithful and more than a handful of the famous Carlton number 3, Darcy Vescio.

    I’m not a big fan of the marketing hyperbole when it comes to anything, but if it can bring in better pay and conditions for the players, it’s a positive thing. Gold coin donation next year for attendance or even $5 as Smokie suggests wouldn’t be unreasonable as long as it goes into helping the game at grassroots rather than meaningless hoopla.

    Chloe Molloy was terrific and I loved watching Cecilia McIntosh mop up at half-back. The overhead marking, of Tayla Harris was a highlight as was overhead marking in general.
    I expected a well-organised defensive style of game and was not let down. I want to see more running bounces and creation of space and I hope that is encouraged by coaches ahead of ‘the win’ in future.

    It was somewhat of a ‘carnival atmosphere’ until the last quarter when the Pies attacked without luck. Crowd got into it and the primal roar of old Carlton v Collingwood rivalry came to the surface. For a few moments, gender and marketing went out the window for me. I just wanted Collingwood to prevail !!

    Kudos, Kasey. Got me writing and thinking about the game. Cheers.

Leave a Comment