AFLW Round 1 – Geelong v Collingwood: ‘I tawt I taw a puddy tat’

 

 

I miss Round 1 game one being at Optus Oval in Carlton. In this short lived (2-year tradition) it felt like you could easily meet up and gather together so many fans who came not because they were necessarily Carlton and Collingwood supporters, but came because it was a special event, a footy game and it was easy to get to. We had a whole Almanac wing going in 2017 and 2018.

 

This year’s Geelong v Collingwood game, and AFLW 3 season opener, is down the highway and I get there early in the afternoon with the plan to stay overnight.  The motel is fully booked, and I find there are heaps of people dressed in their footy colours with the same idea in mind. Staying in Geelong allows me to watch the second game in real time. And not stress about the hours travel.

 

It is a very hot day. Thankfully, the match is in early evening. When my footy mates John and Marion Butler rock up, we drive to the stadium to find closer parking, and manage to secure a spot next to the swimming pool.

 

Geelong has come out to celebrate women’s footy. The outside party area is full of family and kids enjoying the food, jumping castles and other entertainment put on by AFLW and Geelong.

 

The excitement and anticipation can be felt as people march towards the stadium and their seating.  It is like every other footy game, the gathering of the masses, the walking with intent, the search for seats (but in the AFLW season, it is search for seats in the shade).  It is still low 30’s on the balmy opening night.

 

I go hunting for the Footy Record while John and Marion hunt for seats.  I find a seller just inside another entrance and buy copies. It is again a guide to the season and a list of all players, rather than one specifically for this game. It is the first one I have found this year, and I search for my friends up above in the stands.

 

The crowd builds.  It looks especially packed on one side of the ground where people are in the stadium in the protected area of shade.  Only a few die-hards are in the line of where the cameras will face, with full on sunshine making the opposite side of the stadium a less pleasant location. It also makes the stadium look empty for the tv coverage.

 

Collingwood supporters are outnumbered 10-1.  This is blue and white hoops territory. This is a Cats home game.  The noise erupts when the first AFLW team of Geelong run out onto the ground. The Collingwood supporters do their best to make noise when the Pies enter. The players looked pumped.

 

I am so happy that footy is back and women are running around in their colours, with all the regular footy preparation going on. Next year I will be at the St Kilda first game, where ever that will be. Meantime, I look out for any of the Southern Saints who were drafted, and the women who have played for the St Kilda Sharks.

 

For Collingwood, I watch for Brittany Bonicci, my favourite Pie and one-time Shark, she is recognisable by her helmet to protect her from any more concussions. Geelong has Mia-Rae Clifford, a Shark who played with Melbourne in the first two seasons. My other favourite Shark Phoebe McWilliams is out with a hamstring issue (a bit of soreness before the game sees the Cats take a conservative approach to playing this star) and there are 10 listed players who have come up from the Cats VFLW side.) McWilliams was one of the Giants best last year and her articles about the preparation for the season that were published through Geelong Football Club shows she has multiple talents as a writer and a footy player.

 

We are comfortable and I have Nathan Burke (assistant coach of Southern Stars) and Chyloe Kurtis, past player and administrator in women’s footy) on ABC plugged into my ear.  The commentary team tell me that Geelong are playing all their 5 draft picks, and that Pies have three.  That is 8 of the top 20 draft picks are playing tonight.

 

There’s heaps happening on the ground, and there is welcome to country, national anthem and the smoke haze from the bushfires to keep us company.

 

I have tears in my eyes.

 

The Pies burst out first and try and recreate history by getting the first goal of the season. A point is scored.  Not long after, new Pie Jaimee Lambert passes to newbie Sophie Alexander and the Pies quiet the mostly Cats crowd. They got their first goal after all.

 

The ball stays up the Pies end.  Alexander, a point. Sarah D’Arcy, a point.

 

You can’t but notice better skills already in this first game.  Better passing.  Better movement of the ball. More attacking footy.

 

Geelong get a free kick when a Pie runs through a marking space and a 50-metre penalty sees Maddie Boyd get the first Geelong goal.  There’s a lot of noise. There are a few more behinds and Pies are ahead by 1 point at quarter time.

 

Mia-Rae Clifford has spent her footy life in defence, but for the Cats VWFL team she had been moved forward.  She makes the most of an opportunity and kicks truly. Everything is now Geelong.  Maddy McMahon kicks it out of bounds.  Her first major kick will be remembered. Boyd kicks another after a terrific pass by Clifford and Geelong go into half time 11 points ahead.

 

In the third quarter, the game is stopped when Sharni Layton, a giant of a netballer, accidently elbows teammate Sophie Alexander in the head.  Sophie is completely still on the ground. Out like a light. You got feel for Collingwood.  They lost a number of stars to North Melbourne (Moana Hope, Jessica Duffin, Emma King and Jasmine Garner) and now they lose the promising young recruit to concussion.

 

D’Arcy goals, followed by another behind but there is a poor passage of play and Geelong is away again.  Our eyes are glued to Lambert who has hurt her right ankle.  Collingwood are having no luck.

 

Although she is helped off the ground, minutes later, she comes back, her team mates see her on her own, and the ex-Bulldog premiership player helps the Pies to another slice. Pies are ahead by 2 points.

 

This is a tense, close game.  There is fire in the belly.  There is desperation on the field. Kristy Stratton kicks a behind before Clifford soccer’s a behind off the ground.  All the action and scoring seem to be at one end today.

 

My footy radio is interrupted by a fire report. Pies are ahead by a point at ¾ time.

 

The temperature in the stands is cooling.  It remains a hot contest on the field.

 

Clifford again shares the footy but her team-mate Rebecca Goring levels the scores with a behind.

 

Bonicci is everywhere there is a tackle to be seen.  She’s one tough cookie.

 

Lambert shanks one completely from a free, and it’s out on the full.

 

Celia McIntosh at 39 years old is everywhere too.  She’s a ferocious competitor.

 

Both teams are tiring and making more mistakes.

 

Nina Morrison, Geelongs’ number one draft pick, misses a goal but her point is enough for a Geelong victory and the stand roars in appreciation.  The women are pumped. One for one. Their first ever game in the AFLW is a win and you can’t beat that.

 

I feel for Collingwood as they trudge off. That’s three loses in three opening rounds in three years. The Collingwood curse lives on.

 

(And in the 10 year anniversary this year of Geelong beating St Kilda in the 2009 Grand Final, the trauma of the Cats song at the end of the game still sends chills down my spine.)

 

John, Marion and I have been well entertained.  The pub I had found has closed the kitchen by the time we get there at 9, but there is an awesome pizza place across the road where we watch the Adelaide v Western Bulldogs game on the TV until our pizzas are cooked and we relax back at the motel. Yummy pizza and fruit, great company, and another close game awaits.

 

It was a terrific start to season 2019.  Footy is back.

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.

Comments

  1. Great article Yvette – such a close contest! Mia Clifford was on fire for the cats; that goal…

    “Cecelia McIntosh is everywhere” – she deserves a state 40th as she is simply amazing.

    I was very proud of the output from Brazill, Stratton, Alexander, Lambert, and D’Arcy. So brokenhearted over Kristy’s (Stratton) broken hand. The girl is amazing; she knew it hurt but kept playing. As far as I can tell Jaimee Lambert has no long term damage to her ankle; I’ve been quizzing several people about this because I swear she went down towards the end again. However, I wasn’t wearing my glasses.

    Also, on the recommendation, I can say the Sir Charles Darling in Geelong does fantastic meals and I have been there several times. Also a frugal hint: the lunch menu is the normal menu but cheaper. :)

    Hope you had fun and looking forward to further pieces from you. :)

  2. Dave Nadel says:

    I have seen Collingwood Women lose all three season openers, but I went away from Kardinia Park feeling much more optimistic than I did after either of the Princes Park games. Collingwood looked so much more skilled than they had in earlier years. Ash Brazill was close to best on the ground, Alexander looked really promising until she was injured and Cecelia McIntosh is an absolute legend. The Men’s team also starts the season against the Cats. I look forward to the boys reversing Saturday night’s result.

  3. John Butler says:

    It was a fun day Yvette. And a spirited contest.

    I’ll second Dave’s thoughts on Ash Brazill – great run out of defence. And Celia M was tireless in that last quarter.

    Onward to round 2!

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