AFLW Round 3 – Collingwood v GWS: Three blokes walk into a bar

Three blokes walk into a bar.


They are in a pub down the coast, two hours or so from Melbourne. Three old friends from schooldays, brought to this venue by different circumstances, but looking forward to watching the footy and enjoying dinner together. However, the three blokes are disappointed to find that the four big-screen televisions in the pub are showing the Olympics. And that, as far as the three can determine, not one patron has set his or her eyes on the wintry goings-on.


“Can you put the footy on?” one of the blokes asks the barman. “What footy?” he responds. “The women’s footy!” he is told, “the Collingwood-Giants game is just about to start.”


Macca, Tom and I have known each other for more than forty years. Two generations ago, even in the wildest dreams of our boyhood, we could never have imagined a day when we would be nursing beers in a bar, a pleasant coastal breeze wafting through the open doors, watching a game of women’s football. And enjoying it, critiquing it, just getting into it; for the match which plays out before us is a beauty.


Collingwood have the better of the first quarter, and make the most of their opportunities in what seems to be a recurring theme this season: a scrappy opening term. But the barman is now watching the screen with the footy on it, as are a few other drinkers. The volume on the television is muted, but we are unconcerned, because as soon as the ball is bounced we are running our own private three-way commentary.


“Selfish” remarks Tom when a Pies player decides to take on her opponent and gets caught, rather than dishing off to a teammate. “She’s gone for that” I decide, as Sophie Casey lifts an elbow in a tackle and collects the nose of Cora Staunton (no reports will arise from the match). “She needed to kick that!” exclaims Macca, as another kick for goal slews off to the left. The wind is playing havoc, reflected in the dominant Giants’ 2.5 for the second quarter. But those two goals were late, and frank the momentum of GWS just as the game pauses for the long break.


We chat easily, as old mates do. Collectively, we have experienced relationship failures, health issues, employment problems, and financial crises. Life has wearied us slightly, but nonetheless here we are, still alive, still able to relax and enjoy a game of footy on the tv. “There’s more people watching this match than were watching the skiing” someone says, and we laugh in acknowledgement.


Collingwood attack the third quarter with renewed vigour. “Mo Hope has looked much better today,” I declare. Her opportunist goal prior to ¾ time is an old-fashioned team-lifter. But the Pies just cannot not lift enough. Even though they lead by 5 points at the final break, it feels like the Giants have been the better team up to this point.


Runners Courtney Gum (2 goals and 15 possessions and an amazing back-story of persistence) and Alicia Eva are seemingly everywhere, and the Giants’ statistical dominance finally shows where it counts most – on the scoreboard. Half -way through the quarter, Jacinda Barclay converts via a free-kick (for what, no-one seems to know) and then Phoebe McWilliams – following a huge contested pack-mark – puts the game beyond doubt.


We three blokes who walked into that bar on this day cannot determine just how many of our fellow punters enjoyed the match. But as far as we are concerned, this match passed the “pub test” in flying colours.


COLLINGWOOD                             2.3   2.4   4.5   5.5 (35)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY      0.1   2.6   3.6   7.6 (48)

Collingwood: Hope 2, Bonnici, Chiocci, Duffin
GWS: Schmidt 2, Gum 2, McWilliams 2, Barclay

Collingwood: Bonnici, King, Hope, Molloy, Duffin.
GWS: Eva, Gum, McWilliams, Farrugia, Barclay, Staunton.

Umpires: Rawlings, Adair, Burns

Crowd: 3,600 at Olympic Park Oval

Our Votes: 3. C. Gum (GWS), 2. A. Eva (GWS), 1. P. McWilliams (GWS).

And an honourable mention to the barman who changed the channel upon request.



About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Love this Smokie. In my experience, if you put a game of footy in front of blokes, they get sucked in. It happened at the exhibition matches and pre-game women’s Saints games. Footy is footy and that was a cracker of a game. Phoebe McWilliams is another superstar, and each week we have a new ‘wow’ moment as a different player pops us and surprises us.

  2. Great work Smokie. Talk about breathing life into the stale as set up, “three men walk into a bar”. A great yarn with a ripper pay off punch line. Cheers & this is a must for the book.

  3. Kasey Symons says

    Great write up Smokie, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece.

  4. Smoke this is the best report of the season so far, which is remarkable considering the opening line.

  5. I was expecting a ripper joke!
    Another view that heads and minds are turning.
    AFLW is in a league of its own and is being appreciated by many for simply what it is.
    Well written Smokie.

  6. AFLW. Aerial skiing. Skills. Endeavour. Risk Taking. Big crashes. Disasters. Drama.
    What’s not to like. Well played Smokie.

  7. Punxsa-and-the-rest-of-it Pete says

    Smokie, you’ve saved the AFLW market researchers a heap of legwork there: passing the ‘pub test’ is something they can now happily report back to headquarters. Looking forward to experiencing the AFLW the same way down the track with my wearied mates (and the wearisome ones too!)

  8. Smokie. I want your life. The last 17 stories you’ve written have been from bars.

    Enjoyed this one too.

  9. Well played Smokie.
    Reads like you guys were speaking your native tongue, ensconced in your natural habitat.
    Peak comfort.

  10. Thank you for your comments, one and all.
    Yvette: I really like the look of McWilliams. She just needs to learn to keep a cool head and improve her decision-making. She will be a star of this sport.
    Trucker: you are too kind.
    Kasey & Dips: thanks, old mates!
    Dave H: Well said. I wish everyone could would stop comparing and just appreciate it for it is – a game in its infancy.
    Peter B: I am an avowed sports lover, but the winter olympics just does not do it for me. Give me AFLW any day.
    Punxa Pete S: one can never tell just how the pub test will turn out – that is why such thorough research is required.
    Harmsy: it ain’t all just beer and skittles, you know…
    e.r.: yes, speaking our native tongue and in peak comfort.

  11. “We chat easily, as old mates do. Collectively, we have experienced relationship failures, health issues, employment problems, and financial crises. Life has wearied us slightly, but nonetheless here we are, still alive, still able to relax and enjoy a game of footy on the tv.”

    ^^^ very good stuff.

  12. mickey randall says


    Your story is a timely reminder of why I love this site. I have decreasing interest in mainstream media recounts of sporting events but prefer a report told through a personal lens. Sport, family, friends, pubs (or as I know these: the Big Four!) are inextricably and happily connected so, for me, this is the best mode of storytelling.

    Thanks for this.

  13. Nice Smokie. I believe it was Mr T who said “I pity the fool who walks past a TV or field and doesn’t stop to watch the cricket/footy”. I could be wrong about that though. This is primarily what amuses me most about the dudebros who run the ‘skills aren’t good enough for me to watch’ line. What they are effectively saying is ‘I only watch one league because it is the most skillful’ as if that demonstrates they love footy when, in fact, it demonstrates the opposite.

  14. This is great Smokey, thanks. I agree, McWilliams is really stepping up this year. Sometimes you wonder if she believes in herself, and her decision making goes a bit awry. Hope that win, and her performance, lifted her even more.

  15. John Butler says

    So which one was the Rabbi?

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    Watched on tv at home, was a very good game. Mo Hope was good, hope her form trajectory is on the way back up.

    Great read Smokie. Pictured you and your mates sipping ChainSAW pints while reading this.

  17. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Onya Smokie, You are an evolved being considering you didn’t sneak in a Collingwood joke. Like how Brittany Bonnici is starting to blossom and good to see Mo get her mojo back a little. Cheers

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