AFLW Round 3 St Kilda v Melbourne Moorabbin Alive with Pride and our newest G Train.

 

To be at a practice match for AFLM Saints v Hawks on Thursday night and to win was a pretty great prelude to a Friday night game at Moorabbin. The high scoring, the new players, the old players improved, the kicking and passing and holding on to surpass a worthy competitor, it was wonderful. Standing in the outer with old Almanac mate Dave Downer, as we had at many Sandringham games over the years, with his girl and mates, and with my Uncle Bob and Kiyoshi, cheering and clapping and being totally engrossed in the game was amazing. At Moorabbin. The place was rocking.

 

The total of over 8,000 for the preseason match just eclipsed the Saints girls opening round, it didn’t get the 10,000 they were predicting, but it felt like a men’s match in all other ways.  The crowd was different, they seemed rowdier and drunk more, more your traditional men’s footy crowd.  More garbage left in the spectator crowd than I have ever noticed at a women’s game.  And way more squashed beer cans left for others to clean all over the ground. (I heard later that alcohol supplies ran out after the first quarter.)

 

This got to me a little, or a lot.  Was it tipsy young men singing the Saints song on their way out. Drink changes behaviour and I felt less relaxed.  Especially when avoiding all the hundreds of empty cans we had to navigate exiting the ground.

 

I was happy at the win but left feeling a little uneasy. Alcohol over-consumption adding to list of other dislikes, like continual betting ads being espoused at every turn.

 

The grumpy old lady disappeared at Friday night’s game. The change of atmosphere was palpable.  And it was a Pride Match at Moorabbin, with both teams lining up and going through the one banner. “Saints and Demons Unite with Pride” or something to that affect. Fans and kids lined up waving flags, and rainbow fireworks went off after all the players had passed their biggest supporters.

 

I felt Pride in my club, felt happy in my rainbow Saints scarf, and especially loved the design of the Saints girls game jumpers, the gentle rainbow colours blending into each other really standing out. Unfortunately, they weren’t on sale in the shop.

 

I felt more pure joy, more love of footy and it felt less an atmosphere of ‘a night out’ at our second game at Moorabbin in two nights. In a very low scoring game, people were riveted to every play.

 

I sat with women’s footy legends Ann Roulton and Leesa Catto. It was the first time we’d caught up since last year’s best and fairest at the St Kilda Sharks. Sitting with them on the boundary, with Gary and Kiyoshi behind us, it felt like extended family.  And where we were placed was directly behind the St Kilda interchange ‘gate’, and we got to see how it all worked.  The calling out to players across the far side of the ground, the runner trying to make sure the correct players were rotated, the impatience of the ones trying to get on the field and the hot and sweating players tagging off.

 

This was a pressure game and even though Melbourne pushed forward so many more times than the Saints players, they were inaccurate, or the St Kilda players defended well, getting fists to balls or marking in defence.

 

St Kilda defender Tarni White kept marking up the back. Karen Paxman was everywhere for the Dees.  Daisy Pearce just knew where to be and what to do.

 

Kate McCarthy loves speeding out of contests and getting the ball into the hands of Caitlan Greiser. Sometimes it doesn’t work.  But they are doing it often enough that it sticks the second time.  Greiser gets a free and boots through the first goal of the game.

 

A brilliant sunset is our backdrop as Melbourne through Shelly Scott kicks a perfect goal and Melbourne are 4 points up at quarter time.  Their many misses still meant scores.

 

McCarthy and Greiser are everywhere on the ground, even in defence. There is a huge play when Greiser gets the ball and kicks over the pack to my girl Darcy Guttridge, who strolls into goal and makes her first for the Saints.

 

Melbourne begin to be hampered by injuries, and they have lost two players, one to a knee (Madeleine Guerin) and one to concussion (SineadGoldrick).

 

The Dees looked determined.  The Saints pressure was great. And hence Melbourne’s attempts at scoring led to points instead of goals.

 

Kate Hore is very strong all around the ground.  Eden Zanker takes great marks. There are no majors in the third, only 3 points to Melbourne.

 

Melbourne don’t score in the last quarter, but the Saints go wild.  The wonderful Kate McCarthy slots one forward to have our new hero, the G Train Caitlan Greiser, who marks with one hand and coolly settles her team-mates by indicating she’ll go back and take the kick for goal. Greiser goes ahead to create the Moorabbin of old experience of crowd madness, by slotting the goal through from 55 out. She is jumped on by all the players around her as the Saints now lead with only a few minutes to go. The Saints kept at that ball, and the Melbourne players desperately tried to score back.  It was one of those periods of time the collective took a deep breath. And then the siren sounded, and the guttural roar of Saints fans rung out over our home ground. The first win of the first AFLW season for the St Kilda girls. A 5-point win that had all the non-playing members of the winning team join their team mates on the ground for a huge hug-in. Peta Searle happily runs down from the coach’s box and does her interviews on the ground.  No one wants to leave.  There will be kick-to-kick after the second siren.

 

Fans like us were singing and clapping and feeling the joy and occasion. The tradition I most love is on display, and the women sing the Saints song, jumping up and down, in the middle of the ground, so we are all part of the moment. (Afterwards, they shower Peta with Gatorade and sing again in their brand-new rooms downstairs.)

 

We float back to my car. There were 4000 people here to watch this game and remember our historic first win.  To remember that we saw Caitlin Greiser, later named NAB AFL Women’s Rising Star Award winner along with Kalinda Howarth from Gold Coast Suns, become a new cult hero for the red, white and black.  Remember those two long goals she bombed. Remember the work of Kate McCarthy who kept speeding to get the ball cleanly to her partner in crime in the Saints forward line. To see my sponsored player Darcy Guttridge, also assisted by Greiser, get her first for her new Club.

 

It was indeed a night of pride at Moorabbin, in every meaning of the word. The spirit of footy was there for all to see. We will never forget this night. Moorabbin was alive two nights in a row, and we were there to savour it all.

 

Later in the week, my sponsor photo arrived and new happiness abounds. Darcy is top row 5 from left.

 

 

 

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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.

Comments

  1. John Butler says

    What a night for the Saints on Friday, Yvette.

    They’ve made a tremendous start for an expansion team. That Peta Searle must know a thing or two. :)

    The Dees will be haunted by similar losses in each preceding season – just when they get momentum, they lose it.

  2. Hi Yvette,

    The game was tough, but without White, Paxman would never stop.

    And Greiser, Patrikios and McCarthy have speed and skills in the forward line. Your girl Gutteridge is performing well too.

    Brand new Morrabbin should be alcohol related behaviours free zone. I’m sad to hear about drunken patrons at the oval…

    Cheers

    Yoshi

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