AFLW Round 1 – Carlton v Collingwood: What makes a great game of footy?

7.45 Friday 2nd February 2018

Ikon Park

Yvette Wroby


A game of footy starts way before the siren.


It starts when walking with sister Denise to the Parkville PO in the warmer than expected afternoon and seeing the beginnings of the AFLW 7.30pm being posted in the sky from a small plane.  And photographing and tweeting it.  And it being picked up by all and sundry. It’s lining up at the gate and chatting with good people like Jenn and Kirby Fenwick and friend. Getting the footy record that has the women’s team information and no men’s pre-season information. A ‘Record of their Own!’ It’s having Jenn get into the queue at 4pm so we are almost the first in. It’s meeting up with John and Marion Butler, Kate O’Halloran, her partner Cinta and Kasey Symons and my sister Denise and sitting centre wing, in the shade and happily surrounded by others and their great expectations. And being part of the Almanac family surrounded by love, support, enthusiasm and creativity.


Kirby Fenwick makes a fashion statement.
(Can you make us all one please Kirby?!)


Just being there. Seeing the hoopla and celebration and almost crying again when it all begins. Listening to a beautiful rendition of our national anthem, a young woman’s voice ringing out. It’s feeling the tingle down your spine at the sound of the siren.


And the joy at the first bounce.


And we still had a game of footy to watch! In February.


There were so many people, so who cares if it wasn’t a lock out (and thanks to those who took advantage of big screen, picnic baskets and food trucks outside), those numbers would have hit the 20,000 had they made it inside to the hard, wooden seats.



I agree with Kasey Symons’ thoughts about ticketing, to at least save the anxiety of having to get there so early just to be able to get in.  It was a great number, considering the lack of attention from the AFL in terms of advertising and push (save for the last week.)


Seeing these two old rivals go at it warms the heart.  It is a perfect beginning and a tough game. There are new faces and old ones who have changed clubs.  There’s wishes and desires, on and off the field.


I see a young woman searching nearby for a single seat, and we have one, so I invite her in.  Her friend is Pies Illish Ross, number 21 for Collingwood who is a 5-time champion of dirt bike racing and recruited as a quick defender. This young lady was in the rooms before the game and will meet Illish after. Jenn chats with her too. We are a happy bunch, as are those all around us.


We are sitting in a predominantly Carlton section. A happy Carlton section make some noise. Jenn and I have a radio plug each from my little radio, so we are time (thanks to the ABC) and know what’s happening and with whom.



The game starts quickly with Collingwood’s Sarah Darcy getting the ball set up for Jasmine Garner to repeat history with the first goal, two years running.  How good is this script? Pies are up and about and the games only been going for 90 seconds. Pie Emma Grant seems to be everywhere and speedy team-mate Cecilia McIntosh, a former Olympic pole vaulter, at 38 seems half her age. There is lots of heat, bumping and crashing.


Blues get on the board through Kate Shierlaw, an accountant with a good kick.


I notice my St Kilda Sharks girl everywhere. Even though the Sharks VWFL team is no longer, they are still my Sharks. Brittoni Bonnici is her usual brilliant self and seems to be under every tackle and pack.  She has the most possessions come quarter time. Blues captain, Brianna Davey sweeps through the back line and pushes forward. There is desperation and effort.


The biggest thing I notice is that the footballers are in a hurry, everyone is hurried, and there are a lot of mistakes.  Are the shorter quarters adding to the skill errors and the intense speed of the game?  Everything is so quick.  You have to win the first game, or the teams season is almost over.  Two losses and you are almost cooked in the AFLW.


Stars like Darcy Vescio and Moana Hope are covered by two or more defenders each time the ball gets close, but Katie Loynes sends a beautiful kick to Tayla Harris who takes her first big mark in the navy blue. Debutante Chloe Molloy of Collingwood is having a treat of a day. Carlton’s Maddison Gay misses and scores a point, and I learn from the radio she played only 2 games for the Sharks and was drafted on the back of her performance. That’s huge.


Collingwood have more possessions, but they are not effective. Carlton are 1.1 up at quarter time.


We take a breath.  The women on the field take a breath.


Carlton’s Alison Downie gets a great pass from Harris and goals.  We learn that she is a former basketballer, a legend at WNBL, a 326-game player with 3 NBL titles and played for the Dandenong Rangers. These women have such great stories.


There is great Pies rebounding with the ball, but no one is home, and the Blues sweep back up their end. Captain Stephanie Chiocci rallies time and time again. Finally, Pies are rewarded for their massive effort when Amelia Barden goals. There is another last-minute opportunity when Molloy passes to Christina Bernardi but as she passes it forward (instead of steadying for a goal) the siren goes. This is a significant point in the game.  Carlton are ahead by a goal at half-time when it could have been all tied up.


The third quarter is messy footy, with spills, missed opportunities and skill errors. Sarah D’Arcy kicks one out of bounds on the full, then moments later retrieves the footy and gets a free. In a moment that all changes, as she kicks a Blues player Sarah Hosking in the groin to give us the first report of the season and the free reversed.  Brain fade of the day goes to D’Arcy and it changes the tone and energy of Collingwood. There are only three Blues behinds for the quarter. Collingwood, with much of the ball for the game, should be leading by two goals.


In the last quarter, the Blues have stepped up.  Fumbles at vital moments are killing the Pies and their missed shots on goal have cost them the game. The one Pies behind makes it a dismal score-line.  Molloy shone with 20 possessions, it was like her 50th game not her first.  Collingwood did play better than last years opening game but were not as composed.


I see there are hugs between players who are likely team mates in the VWFL. This is such a different game and the final numbers who made it through the games was 19,852.


Our happy campers dispersed, and the traffic slowly moved as the Zoo Twilight Concert and the first AFLW game finished at the same time. It was a treat to be back at the footy, amongst friends and family, once again celebrating women and sport.



Carlton                 2.1           3.1           3.4           3.4           22

Collingwood       1.0           2.1           2.1           2.2           14


Goals: Carlton: Downie, Shierlaw, Harris

Collingwood: Gardner, Bardan.


Best:  Carlton: Davies, Harris, Gay, Loynes.

Collingwood: Chiocci, Kuys, Molloy, Garner, Bonnici.


Crowd: 19,852


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. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Twas indeed a celebration of women and sport, Yvette. Beautifully captured. So pleased I went along this year. Was worth it.
    Did J.Butler behave himself as the Pies attacked in the last quarter?

  2. Jennifer Muirden says

    Great colour piece, Yvette!

    Thanks for sharing one of your radio ear plugs, delicious fresh peach quarters and peppermint tea (or was it Jasmine tea…hard to tell blended with the beer!#*!) along with your warm company.

    Since last year I have whole heartedly embraced the AFLW Competition but was most eager to attend my first live game…and couldn’t have done better than the 2018 Season Opener at Princes Park at the start of this weekend. I actually cannot wait to attend my next AFLW game and c’mon please bring on 2020 when the mighty Saints Women’s team will finally join the competition!

    I trust that the more the likes of Kate, Kirby, Kasey, you, me and countless other keen observers of Women’s footy express their stories we can spread the message to the young girls and potential future stars to get on board the AFL Women’s Competition and be part of history in the making. By getting more people going along to the games provides a great opportunity to be part of encouraging both young and mature girls to play Aussie Rules in a family friendly, safe and supportive environment!

    May AFLW live long and prosper…make it so!! ; )

  3. Kasey Symons says

    A great night with great people. Was so lovely to watch the game with you and the crew Yvette and hear your commentary on the players you know so well from the Sharks. You are a wealth of knowledge – great write up.

  4. John Butler says

    Great to share the evening with you and all the others Yvette.

    I think you make a crucial point about how cut-throat the nature of this competition is. You have to finish top two, so any loss puts you on the brink. That has to effect the mentality of the teams.

    We had a ball. And we’ll be coming back. See you next time. :)

    PS: FYI Lord B, as usual, I was the soul of football discretion. You would expect anything else?

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