AFLW Round 3 – Greater Western Sydney v Fremantle: It’s hot, hot, hot; but cool with the Fridge

The signs were good. At 11:20 am I received a text from Steve, “Car Park Full.  We’ve saved you a seat.”

 

I was in my second meeting of the morning, waiting to give a report and trying not to clock watch. Penrith isn’t that far from Blacktown, but I didn’t want to miss the first half of the first home game.

 

Meeting over, I raced to the car. Maybe I should have sacrificed something to the footy gods. Why else would at least 15 traffic lights be perfectly synced to red? I grumbled as the car edged eastwards as I knew the ball up had occurred, then the first quarter. I didn’t know about all the players wearing white shorts, or how it was a tough quarter with Freo leading 9-0. I could have guessed correctly that it was hard and fast-paced.

 

It’s about 12:25 pm and I head straight for the soccer fields and hope that there’s still somewhere to park. There’s the sign “car park full” but the guy in hi-vis waves me through.  “You here for the game? Follow that car and park next to the rail.” The car behind me then takes the last spot. “Who would have thought there’d be so many people out here?” said the man had parked in front of me as we hurried across the busy road, just behind the mum with her two sons.

 

He’s right. This is not AFL heartland. This is not two local teams – it’s a team from the other side of the continent so hardly a travelling contingent of fans. And it’s stinking hot and Sydney people are very selective when they go to live sport.

 

I go through the gates and head for the stairs leading into the grandstand, passing the Auskickers assembling for their half-time stint and then Phil Davis on the way – glad one of the captains was able to make it. It’s still second quarter then – there’s a buzz in the air and I join a standing room only crowd, the like of which I haven’t seen at Blacktown. I’m glad there’s a seat for me – people are standing three deep in the aisle – and we have the ball. The crowd roars as there’s a move on and then turns indignant as Mai Nguyen is pulled down near the 50m. Free given, which then becomes 50. Mai takes aim and kicks true. It’s our second goal, and the deficit is not too great.

 

Unfortunately by the time I’ve found Steve and Liam and taken my seat Freo have responded and taken the lead to 23-12. I get filled in that Ellie Brush scored the first goal and the shorts debacle. I look across the field – there are several marquees on the hill and a smattering of people sitting in the full sun. It’s still a big crowd for Blacktown.

 

Half-time and the Auskickers run onto the field. I catch up on twitter and see a photo that makes me laugh. In front of the scoreboard are a clutch of supporters kitted out in white cardboard boxes. It’s the fridges from Macquarie University, dressed in honour of their team-mate, our captain, Amanda “Fridge” Farrugia.

 

A long half-time (I have since learned that’s because of the heat) and we’re back again. We kick the first goal; and then the second; we are in front for the first time. The crowd has gone wild. The “Giants!” (clap clap clap) “Giants” chant starts and is quickly taken up by the Grandstand – only to be silenced when Freo strike back. Renee Tomkins stands up as she shuts out much of Freo’s attempts at taking the game away.  Emma Swanson, our marquee player taking the field for the first time, manages to lift the performance of the team as whole. We are starting to put together passages of play together for longer periods.

 

But the Freo girls look more at home, even though it’s the Giants’ home ground. Number 4 (Lara Filocamo) is everywhere and unable to be stopped.

 

It’s cliche to say that the players needed to dig deep and hold on, and it was one that didn’t need to be told. It was only a five point deficit at three quarter time. We know how we let the game slip away against Carlton last weekend. Can we do it?

 

These are our girls. They are giving it their all. Jacinda Barclay – baseballer, lingerie football champion – tackles her opponent, gets the ball out of bounds, turns to the bench and roars. We are not going to let the game get away from us today. Emma McKinnon is so composed for an 18 year old ruck – maybe she should take young Matt Flynn under her wing as the two of them grow and develop. And in only her third game of top flight footy, Fridge would continue to calmly, cooly, keep the team together.

 

The crowd is riding them home – GWS goal; answered by Fremantle. We hold our breaths as two Freo kicks are wayward. It’s only six points. Aimee Schmidt’s set shot makes scores level. We are in time on.  How long, how long?

 

We yell at the high tackle on the 50m arc, Fremantle run but the whistle has blown and a free kick has been awarded. It’s too far out to score and the siren sounds. Women collapse on the field, totally spent.

 

What a game! While I would have loved to sing the song for the first time, I am just as happy to be part of history. First AFLW game at Blacktown. First AFLW draw.

 

Thankfully, not the last game I’ll be there to cheer on the mighty Giants. We just need to keep cool, and the Fridge will lead us to victory.

 

 

About Kath Presdee

Just a suburban girl, just a suburban girl. Lawyer by day, wife and Mum by night. I experience the agony and the ecstasy of sport, having followed Cronulla all my life, the Brumbies all their life and as a foundation member of the Giants.

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    G’day Kath

    The Giants were knocking loudly on the door last week when they made their debut appearance at Princess Park. Not surprised they competed strongly again. A hard running side. The shame of it is the draw probably makes it hard for either team to finish top 2.

    McKinnon and Dal Pos look great prospects.

    We thought it was hot last Saturday. Sydney hot is different again. February footy is tough going..

    Cheers

  2. Yvette Wroby says:

    Well reported Kath. When I watched on TV, I was wondering about the cut out fridges. Now I know. They are looking good out there, good great for AFLW or any AFL footy out there. Is that more than the men’s crowds??

  3. kath presdee says:

    Thanks John and Yvette.

    Yvette – we were trying to work out what the crowds were like way back in 2011 when GWS were only a NEAFL side and Blacktown was their home ground. The number of people in the grandstand alone suggests that more came to the first women’s game than attended some of the early games; and certainly the NEAFL games that the WSU Giants play there now. Not anywhere near the AFL Giants crowds in Sydney; and looking at the stats sheet, about the same as the JLT game in Narranderra

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