AFLW Round 1 – Western Bulldogs v Fremantle: Women of the Kennel Shine.

4.35pm Sunday 4th February 2018

Whitten Oval

Yvette Wroby



At the bounce of this game, I was in the Como Cinema seeing ‘Lady Bird’ with my cousin Sue. It was an apt film.  A young girl sorting out who she was, the relationships around her of family and friends, and her coming of age story. The self-named Lady Bird saw the world in her own particular way, and she was a strong character who was happy to have a go, bumps and all.


I asked my sister Denise to text me updates from the game, to get that ‘being there’ feeling for my report. Come evening, I plonked myself in front of the TV recording and wondered at how the Doggies went.


The first thing that struck me was the strength of the experienced Doggies women: Katie Brennan, Ellie Blackurn and Emma Kearney.  And then the new young ones.  Wow.


Katie Brennan can completely forget 2017. She stormed into 2018 with the first goal of the game (after a scrappy beginning from both sides.) This piece of play had Isabel Huntington and Kearney cleanly passing the ball to Brennan. The goal itself was a perfect, long kick.


“Yay, Katies creaming them!!” was Denise’s first match report.


I notice fantastic passages of play, and too many Freo errors. The Dogs do all the attacking, and Nicole Callinan passes to Brennan for another goal for the super captain. More accurate passing sees Ellie Blackburn goal from a distance, and it bounces through the way I wish it had in the Grand Final of ’10 in the AFLM.


Freo are having no luck.  Ashlee Atkins looks likely to score back but is tackled and loses the chance.


“Yay” texts Denise, “Kept Freo scoreless in the first quarter.  That’s always a good thing.”


The commentators talk about there being 10 of the best Western Australians playing at other Clubs and not Fremantle. This year, Freo made the decision to recruit and play only Western Australian players.  Whew, it seemed not to be a good decision so far in this game.


You can feel Fremantle deflate that little bit more when Brennan slots it again.


“She’s on fire”, messages Denise.


There is much spraying of the ball, which adds to the Dogs tally but is not helping the visitors at all. The forward pressure from the Dog’s make Freo look sloppy and a class below.


Blackburn makes a perfect pass to Brooke Lochland who goals.  The commentators tell us that Brooke was a speed skater in the Winter Olympics.  She’s a perfect kick.


If Freo get the ball to their end, it is zipped away out of defence. Hayley Miller hurts her knee in a tough tackle. Freo send another player into defence and it’s their skipper Kara Donnellan. The passes between the Fremantle players are not sticking, less accurate and they are being tackled with ferocity. They pass twice successfully but the third one misses the target.  It is the story of their first half, and they remain scoreless.


Denise “Half time, 34 points ahead. Freo yet to score. Yay. Good size crowd. Thank god for the shade!!”


Kelly Underwood lets us in viewer world know that Michelle Cowan, the Freo coach, must feel haunted.  Five years ago, she coached the WA under 18’s against Vic’s under 18’s. WA led all day but the foursome of Huntington, Blackburn, Monique Conti and Deanna Berry (all Doggetts and playing so well today!) came from behind to steal the win for Victoria.


Whatever Cowan said to her team at half time spurred them on, with Gabby O’Sullivan passing well to Amy Lavell who finally opens the Freo tally. It was the best few movements of Fremantle play all game and they are rewarded.  They burst forward again, and Lavell gets a free and converts truly.


Even from my lounge seat, you can feel the energy of the Freo women rise, and the Dogs become more defensive. Freo’s Melissa Caulfield defends well.  Things are starting to go right. Their pressure is up, they are hitting harder, pressing harder.


After some misses, the Dockers again attack and Ashley Sharp gets the 3rd goal in a row for Freo.


Interestingly, the message Denise sent at this point was blocked and could not be delivered. It turns out to be a photo.

No time clock and no Freo score (from Denise Hilton)


Doggies are 15 points ahead at ¾ time, and Denise’s attention turns to the scoreboard and lack of time clock.


“No time clock, no radio station with game. Stupid Big Bash cricket on instead” she reports. “Hasn’t been up our end all quarter.”


Come last quarter, Freo attack first with a ball that rolls through for a behind. But the Doggies are stepping up. Newbies Huntington to Bonnie Toogood lives up to her name with the 6th Doggie goal.  Huntington manages to keep the ball with 2 defenders on her and passes it perfectly.  It was something to behold.


The Dog’s have passed short and accurately, and all teams should watch this as a taste of what keeps fans on the edge of their seats (and goals coming).


Bulldogs player Daria Bannister is hurt and for the second time in the game (Nicole Callinan was helped off in 3rd quarter), there is an injury stoppage.


Aasta O’Conner has another snap from 45 out accurately and it’s all over. The game is stopped again when Freo’s Ebony Antonio has a head knock and both teams manage another behind before the siren goes and the Doggetts sing.


Denise’s summary? “Some 8500 turned up at the best oval in the inner city (especially for supporters). And a great city view.  Ellie and Katie led the team to a great win, only the 3rd quarter a little quiet. AND WE ARE ON TOP OF THE LADDER. After all, after February 16th, it’s the year of the Dog!”


Freo has some work to do.


Western Bulldogs                           3.2         5.4               5.6         7.7         (49)

Fremantle                                         0.0         0.0               3.3         3.5         (23)


Goals: Western Bulldogs: K Brennan 3, A O’Connor, B Lochland, E Blackburn.

Fremantle: Lavell 2, A Sharp.


Best:  Western Bulldogs: K Brennan, E Blackburn, E Kearney, B Lochland, M Conti.

Fremantle: A Lavell, K Donnellan, D Hooker

Crowd: 8,500






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. Hi Yvette,

    So you watched the recorded Fix Footy live coverage? I watched the full game in two days with my Watch AFL website.

    Ellie and Katie are superstars of the Scray girls! I was so impressed with their great works.

    Do you think both of them have character of ‘The Lady Bird’?



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