AFLW Round 2 – Melbourne v Adelaide: Memorandum mori

Melbourne versus Adelaide

5.05pm, Saturday 10 February

Casey Fields, Melbourne


Dave Brown





To: AFL Football Department


From: AFLW fans                     Date: 15 February 2018


Re: AFLW – Rd 2


Thank you for your time to compose a memo after having watched one game of football.


To summarise our thoughts, we have observed a style of management with the following characteristics:

  • Treating AFLW as a problem to be fixed rather than a very young league which is constantly developing and improving.
    Unclear explanations of your motivations, in terms of whether you have newly formed legitimate concerns about style of play or just want more ad breaks.
  • Unnecessarily exaggerated reaction to one poor football game, calling into question your ability to plan, develop and implement organised sporting competitions.


We feel that it is impacting the game in the following way:

  • It makes women footballers and supporters feel less valued.
  • It brings into question your commitment to women’s football (and football more broadly in your role of national responsibility) because it is worthy in and of itself as opposed to simply another revenue stream.


Accordingly, we require your support to put the following in place for the remainder of your administration of the league:

  • Do not treat AFLW as a problem. As has always been the case in Australian Rules football footballing need is the mother of tactical innovation. Given time, any perceived weaknesses will be addressed – if those perceptions are reasonable in the context of the game.
  • Implement rule changes properly. Base them on thorough, defensible analysis. Follow the processes that exist to change the rules of the game. And do it with sufficient notice to enable teams to plan for these changes.
  • If you are concerned about the commercial footprint of the league then treat it seriously. Schedule and market it properly, use suitable venues. It’s remarkable that you managed to botch the weekend where the attendance record for women’s Aussie Rules was broken. It should have been your crowning glory but instead it had a bitter aftertaste, as if even that wasn’t good enough.
  • Treat women with the dignity and respect that would leave AFLW fans not reluctant to go to games, stuck knowing that you will interpret non-attendance as reinforcing your deficit model rather than protesting your disingenuousity (see we’re so upset that we’re even making words up).


We thank you in advance for your support and are committed to calling you out in this area.




People who enjoy AFLW



As you can imagine, it was hard work sitting down on the couch to watch the coverage from Casey Fields. When an organisation I do not trust at the best of times pulls a stunt like this, there are other ways I could be using my time. But support our women I will, performatively or otherwise. That I have a bad feeling about today is a less spoken reason for a lack of motivation.


What can you tell of Casey Fields through an LCD prism? Well, it’s not a footy ground worthy of a national league. Perhaps, then, not surprising that a match between the putative premiership favourites and last year’s premiers draws such a modest crowd. It also appears to be windy… very windy. After winning the toss, Daisy appears to kick with it, as much as it deigns to favour anyone.


Melbourne start marginally the better but the Crows, desperately, are able to hold them. The efforts of Randall and Cox in defence are able to rebuff the mostly shallow entries of the Demons. Conversely, the Crows struggle to move the ball with any depth – Bianca Jakobsson skilfully defuses any attacks.


It is not until an amazing run from Aleisha Newman down a flank, leaving Talia Radan frustratingly out of reach, capped off by a checkside goal that the game starts to open up. Cale Hooker must have wondered why his mentions were kicking off. The Crows quickly turn it around, with a deep entry and some handy work by Sarah Perkins leaving Abbey Holmes strolling into goal. 7-6 at quarter time – the Crows would most certainly take it, even if it doesn’t generate enough ad breaks for Mr Hocking’s liking.


The second quarter is where it all goes wrong. Melbourne completely dominate from the opening ball up. Karen Paxman ranges largely unchallenged through the Crows’ midfield (not overly surprising given the Crows’ midfield currently appears to consist of Ebony Marinoff and several players out of position but doing their best). Melbourne are quicker, stronger and better organised (and a unidirectional liberal interpretation of holding the ball also helps the team first to the ball) and put it on the scoreboard through goals to Scott, Cranston, Pearce and Cunningham. Only Dayna Cox, and an against the run of play Hewett goal, stands between Melbourne and an absolute bloodbath.


Half time gives the kids sufficient excuse to become fully occupied in other activities and their father time to stew further about how the semi-official changes to the rules gives further advantage to the teams that are already the most talented. I return alone to the second half vigil, the human expression of a sigh, as Hickey kicks a long one with the third quarter breeze. My fave, Ruth Wallace, shows some class to bring one back but Cunningham’s second makes it a 28 point lead at lemons.


It is only poor Melbourne kicking and Paxman’s back that saves further Crows blushes in the last. Time and time again they are second to the footy, lack size and pace. Things always look bad when you’re missing your best player but it’s hard to see a way through for this team, now bottom of the ladder after Melbourne’s 32 point win. Perhaps it just highlights the miracle that was the Crows’ 2017 season. Lightning doesn’t usually strike twice. Melbourne, conversely, are hugely impressive – based upon today’s form, the grand final awaits.


Melbourne      1.1       5.2       7.4       8.8       (56)


Adelaide         1.0       2.0       3.0       4.0       (24)


GOALS           Melbourne: Cunningham, Newman 2; Scott, L. Pearce, Hickey, Cranston.

Adelaide: Holmes, Hewett, Wallace, McCormick.


BEST  Melbourne: Paxman, O’Dea, Jakobbson, Hore, Mithen, D. Pearce.

Adelaide: Marinoff, Cox, Randall, Varnhagen.


UMPIRES: Gibson, McGinness, Heffernan               CROWD 3,800


OUR VOTES  Jakobbson (Melb) 3, Paxman (Melb) 2, O’Dea (Melb) 1


About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Dave i found JTH comment interesting re my article that may be it wasn’t such a quick bang wam action from the afl that there actually had been more communication with the clubs than it appeared
    ( still find it bizarre tho if you are going to make changes do it before the start not after 1 round )
    It does show re the best player in the game being injured there is no where near the depth to even remotely replace,Erin ( admit didn’t see the game worked and then went to the home of footy to watch the SANFl version of fast footy )

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I ummed and ahhed about going all week, but decided that I wouldn’t be much of a supporter if I dodged this one. Don’t tell anyone but I didn’t see out the last quarter, fearful that I’d be stuck in the local traffic bottleneck.

    The seven weeks of home and away / one final makes it harder to keep an interest in the comp once your team has lost a couple early.

    And Melbourne were very good, as you’ve pointed out Dave.

  3. Thanks for the read and comments. Yep, interesting re. Goddard’s perspective Rulebook. But, as you say why do it after Round 1? Reckon we will see exactly what the AFL wants this season even without the memo – the most skillful, attacking teams (those with players who spent the winter playing in the comparatively extremely strong VFLW) will step the game up a level this year and play in the grand final. The rest will struggle.

    It’s funny as it turns out, Swish, that the world’s sporting capital appears to be among the least well prepared for AFLW, venue wise. Hopefully it won’t be long before Casey and Olympic Park are deemed unsuitable. Now that our season is effectively over it will be interesting to see what the crowd is like at the Parade on Saturday arvo. Truth be told, 8,000-9,000 would probably be a more pleasant experience anyway.

  4. Great memo, Dave. The AFL appear to have forgotten Gill’s very own words with regard to AFLW players, which he uttered at the launch of the new competition only 12 months ago: “I will ask today that we give them time and space to grow into the elite footballers that we know they can be. We are here for the long haul — let’s back our players in.”

  5. Great work DB, love your memo and report. Especially your votes. Agreed re Jakobbson!

    All teams whatever their ilk get hit when their best player/s aren’t in the mix. I’m thinking Hawks first 5 rounds last year without the mighty Mitch and Lewis.


  6. Yvette Wroby says

    Great work as always Dave. Loved the memo. When do we post it to them????

    I love it that different teams are in contention this year. I like my footy not dominated by only one strong team (sorry Darebin Falcons, love your work and ethics and community but want to see who can get up and give your women a run for their money).

    Falcons are a benchmark Club. When I did send an email to the AFLW team last week (I really did!) I said that they needed to consult with Club such as the Falcons and get their feedback before surprising coaches and teams and players. Still believe that even if they did let them know last year. Get some Falcons into the AFLW structure and you may get some of their great work. Same for St Kilda Sharks who have some great players now wearing different colours (and have lost their VFL side).

    Thanks again Dave. Always fun to read you pieces.

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