AFLW Round 2 – Fremantle v Collingwood: a crowd, reborn.

AFLW Round 2 – Fremantle v Collingwood

Fremantle v Collingwood

4.10pm, Saturday 10 February

Perth Stadium

Danae Gibson


Wow! What a day.


To be frank, almost every day in February in Perth is a fabulous day but this fabulous day will be remembered as an extra special day in women’s sport in Australia. The record books will show 41, 975 were at a new Perth stadium to watch Fremantle take on Collingwood in round two of season two of the AFLW. For those who learned about the previous record crowd to watch women play Aussie Rules during the week, I have recommended Brunette Lenkic & Rob Hess’s Play On. I talked about the game with everyone and anyone who would listen to me in the build-up to the game.


I was excited, but also nervous straight after the opening round game … neither the Pies nor the Dockers had looked convincing for four quarters and the critics were out in force. But as the week went on I felt better about the likelihood of a tough, competitive game. Tuesday’s training looked good. Collingwood would be under pressure too. The weather was going to be great and ticket sales had to be capped at 55, 000. For safety reasons.


It was a day of firsts. This was the first time that my beloved and I were able to watch Freo play live, together. * But first, there was a day of radio training to deliver, so we opted for breakfast at our local where we spied a woman wearing a Docker’s guernsey enter the café.


The stranger responded enthusiastically to “Go Freo!” and my partner and I joked that it was a good way to start our day. The fact that the woman was joined by Kara Donnellan and Ebony Antonio and that we didn’t embarrass ourselves too much meant we went to work pumped for the big game, even though it was barely 8.30am.


A snap of Perth Stadium from beneath Windan Bridge.

One of the elements of the new Perth Stadium I’ve been looking forward to is the shift of focus from getting to the game via car to getting there via public transport, bicycle, boat or by foot. Okay, I’m not sure we can get there by boat but the 2km walk from East Perth to Burswood is a beauty. We walked under the Windan Bridge and found ourselves impressed with the landscaping and look of the precinct. There’s a lot to like about the external aspects of The Craypot and I look forward to completion of the ‘other’ bridge sometime this year. I think it’s safe to say the $1.5B project wasn’t all plain sailing over the last few years and there’s plenty of stories about the politics of construction in Perth but today I don’t care: it’s all about the game.



When play got under way, I got nervous all over again. Look out! The Pies were hot – a goal to Emma King in the first 90 seconds – as they seemed to dominate possession for the first few minutes. The crowd was pretty quiet as the visitors held it in their forward 50. The young supporters in front of us were so excited when Christina Bernadi kicked Collingwood’s second goal. “The youngest is beside herself with excitement,” their mum explained. Priceless.


Two young Collingwood fans watch the game against Fremantle at Perth Stadium

The home crowd finally exhaled when Ashlee Atkins took a fine mark and kicked truly from 40. The cheers were even louder when Dana Hooker snapped a great goal to even the scores half way through the quarter. The Dockers had made the most of limited opportunities in front of goal, they were very much in the game. Scoring accuracy matters in such a compact competition. In 2017, Fremantle kicked 23.37 and Collingwood kicked 32.32 (including 7.13 against GWS). The quarter continued with clash after clash, the usual reliable contributors – Hooker, Antonio, Filocamo, Donnellan – were joined for the first time by Lisa Webb who looked like she’d been in the team forever. When Mel Caulfield tied up a Collingwood defender close to goal and converted the subsequent free kick, the Dockers had hit the front.


QT: Fremantle 3.0 (18) Collingwood 2.0 (12)


The tight tussle continued in the second quarter. Alex Williams and Webb combined well on the far wing – we had a great view from centre wing, upper level – and the Dockers looked like scoring another goal early before Chloe Molloy ran down Caulfield. The young star had bounced back from some rough play in the first and although I couldn’t quite see what happened in that instance, there were spot fires all over the huge ground. Neither side backed down from the push and shove and I’m not sure who would have been buying the first drinks in the post-game chats.  Amy Lavell kicked the only goal of the term, although Gemma Houghton, Hayley Miller and Stacy Barr could have added to the lead. It felt like the Dockers would kick more goals as the took the game on and at half time, the home team crowd were happy with the first Aussie Rules game at The Craypot.


HT: Fremantle 4.1 (25) Collingwood 2.0 (12)


The opening play of third quarter saw Hooker win a free in the middle and it looked like the Dockers were about to kick another goal but the Atkins kick went wide. Players missed targets and mistakes were made but after such enormous energy was spent by every player in the first half, it was no surprise. It was a hot day, the hype leading into the game was massive and the ground is bloody huge! Bernardi – one of her team’s best all day – kicked the Pies third goal to reduce the margin but Caulfield snapped another for Fremantle.  I liked the game of Evie Gooch, whose approach reminds me of our household favourites Filacamo and Gabby O’Sullivan, although I think Gooch may turn out to be the best kick of the three.


3QT: Fremantle 5.3 (33) Collingwood 3.1 (19)


The home team continued to play on whenever possible in the fourth quarter. In the opening minutes Miller kicked a behind when a handball over the defender’s head might have led to a simpler shot for Sharp but Hooker made it look easy with a successful snap at a goal at the sunny end (seriously, I have no idea what we’re calling either end of the ground!) and the lead was 21 points. The game continued, most of the crowd of 41 975 stayed and this fan relaxed a little. Jamie Lambert kicked a handy goal, the Pies kept competing but could not close the gap. The Dockers held on to win by 13 points and the Freo faithful found full voice to sing the team song. This was just the second win for Freo and the first time I had seen them win live. I was happy but I was also really pleased for the players who would have been feeling the pressure in the build-up, and the coach who kept the faith.  It was such a fab day at the footy, the stadium feels airy and comfortable and I can imagine having many good times ahead. Loads of people hung back to take a further look around the venue after the game. I bumped into mates I’d forgotten to make plans with beforehand and we grabbed a cuppa and a chat with a vendor who described the crowd as friendly. She said it wasn’t quite as busy as she’s expected (I think it was because the fans were watching the game and there were countless food and drink options) but she still hadn’t seen enough of the game to see how her mate’s mate had played. We let her know that “number 8” was solid, and we liked her game. “Oh, good,” she said. “I think she was pretty nervous.” Weren’t we all? Evie Gooch, in game number two for Fremantle (and at work in her third or fourth job this week) could consider it a great day at the brand new office. Well played, Freo, well played.


“Miles Franklin award-winner Kim Scott and a group of elders composed a 17-verse poem, Kaya, in Nyungar and English that has been etched into 68 precast concrete panels encircling the podium level of the stadium. It constitutes a call to arms, a war cry for people to come together — in this case for a sporting event.” Victoria Laurie, The Australian.


FREMANTLE                         3.0     4.1     5.3     6.4     (40)
COLLINGWOOD                   2.0     2.0     3.1     4.3     (27)


Caulfield 2, Hooker 2, Atkins, Lavell Collingwood: Bernardi 2, King, Lambert 


 Hooker, Antonio, Caulfield, Webb, Donnellan Collingwood: Kuys, Chiocci, Duffin, Molloy, Bernardi 


Our Votes: Hooker 3, Antonio 2, Webb 1.


Umpires: Simmonds, Curtis, McPhee

Official crowd: 41,975


The match also raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity, with all ticket proceeds going to the Starlight Foundation and the Fremantle Dockers Foundation.


*Thankfully, it was a lot less sweary than Round 1!


I'm a rusted on Fremantle Dockers supporter. Radio is my first love, followed closely by cricket. I coordinate the Broadcast Journalism Diploma at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.


  1. Lynn MacLaren says

    Thanks for this fast paced, colourful recount of a great game and a nice day. Yesterday was my first time watching the women play live. You’ve captured the atmosphere of the stadium and the crowd as the game evolved. I was invited to the Sirens function and a post game Meet the Players event. The River Room was full of young girls and older women with a healthy dose of blokes at the bar and the food table, of course. When the team arrived, fresh from the showers and still glowing from their triumph, we were all keen to get autographs and selfies. I’ll post some pics on facebook. The sun was well and truly set by the time we walked under the Windan Bridge and past the East Perth Power station. A wonderful memory of a Dockers event I will forever cherish.

  2. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Danae, great piece and experience. The new stadium looks great and you are happy with the win and being exactly where you want to be. It’s such an interesting year so far, and each round throws up so many interesting things on and off the field. Last years Premiership contenders look shaky, Collingwood has stepped up but still having trouble, and Freo has their win in their beautiful stadium. Lots to look forward to in each game. Loving the women playing.

  3. Danae Gibson says

    thanks Yvette – just wait til you have the Saints women in the comp! You’ll love it as much as Lynn and I. Gotta say Lynn, I’m looking forward to meeting up with the Sirens some time this season. Heave Ho!

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Danae, awesome write up. Really enjoyed this game, as a Pies fan this was a much higher standrd than our Round 1 game against Carlton. The Stadium looked fantastic, hope to see that crowd figure beaten in an AFLW game sometime soon!

Leave a Comment