AFLW Round 4 – Greater Western Sydney v Adelaide: In the shallows

It’s been one of those weeks. In amongst the usual detritus of late summer kids’ activities (swimming, cricket) one also needs to make time to do the grocery shopping, get bits of housework done and maybe even catch up with some family. Add to that an early week travel to a family funeral and it’s not overly surprising that I find myself, several days later, sitting down to watch the Crows over at the Blacktown International Sportspark (whatever the heck that is).


Watching a footy match when you already know the result is a different way of watching. The outcome becomes a prism through which you watch the game. Having watched a few Grand Finals once or twice (2017 AFLW most certainly, AFLM not so much) you actually lose something in the re-watching. The exhilaration is still there but you overwrite your memory of watching it live with your memories of watching the replays. Worth it, of course, but something is definitely lost.


I’d never really been down the Yorke Peninsula before (for the non-South Australians in the room it’s the middle peninsula between SA’s two gulfs that looks somewhat like a leg and was almost enshrined upon the Crows’ guernsey). I had been as far south as Maitland for various school and work engagements but very much a drive in, drive out arrangement. No opportunity to get a feel for the place.


An early option for Adelaide Footy Club’s Guernsey features Yorke Peninsula jutting down into the green


But to Blacktown on the TV. The green of the playing surface contrasts the brown of the outer. It is like Adelaide Oval’s hill in September after another long winter. Before the downpour both teams struggle to cleanly move the ball. This is often particularly evident in AFLW when a team tries to clear the ball from a behind kicked. This is evidenced very early as Rebecca Beeson intercepts a Crow kick in and snaffles the game’s first goal.


After an imperious return last week Erin Phillips drops a number of chest marks this time, just demonstrating that she is, in fact, mortal. Late in the first quarter, Courtney Cramey, back and showing every ounce of her experience in the midfield, milks a free kick and put the Crows’ first goal on the board.


Then the rain comes.


On the peninsula we take a few days to get down for the funeral and wake. My aunt’s home in Marion Bay meaning we get to travel almost the full length of said leg. The blue of the gulfs contrasts the straw of the wheat and sheep fields.


We stop the night before at a caravan park – with the tide 100 metres out, crabbers wade in Gulf St Vincent’s extensive shallows, occasionally popping a crustacean in their floating baskets. Outside of school holidays the peacefulness is attractive (not for the crabs, mind). The kids enjoy the time and space to farewell the summer.




Not that the footy had been overly clean but with the rain it now becomes that attritional, ground-gaining style play that many of us knew so well in our youth. As the water pools, players going to the deck aquaplane through the shallows like combi vans in a monsoon. In the second quarter, GWS, driven by Alicia Eva in the midfield, manage to put a few cleanish possessions together.


After a balletic collision between the two Courtneys (Gum and Cramey), Cora Staunton, nose sufficiently intact, wins a high contact free kick and Gaelics it through for what turns out to be GWS’s last goal. Having watched the highlights of the Gaelic Football final on NITV the other night, as AFLW gets increasingly better paid, there is plenty of Irish talent to be poached.


The third quarter progresses and the Crows concede multiple 50s – unforgivable in these conditions really, when 50 metres is two clean kicks. GWS cannot capitalise and neither can the Crows as they start to get the better of the footy (50s notwithstanding).


Foley and Randall are dominating GWS across half back while Marinoff continues tackling everything that moves, on her way to an AFL record. The GWS ruck, Erin McKinnon, is carried off the ground and by the end of the quarter Crows ruck Rhiannon Metcalfe is limping too. The tall may not get any shorter on a wet day but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily good for them.


Back on the peninsula we mourn a loss and celebrate a life – constructing it from the outcome, thereby changing it in the remembering. A decent innings spent enjoying life’s finer things is plenty for one to hope for. The guard of honour of Marion Bay’s first responders also highlighting the importance of volunteering, particularly in small country towns.


And trailing by nine points at the last break, the Crows have all of the ball early in the last. Ruth Wallace kicks a cracking left foot snap goal and is repeatedly dangerous. Cramey misses a gettable goal after Staunton’s “Jim Stynes rushing a goal” moment (not understanding the rules, she places the ball on the ground instead of returning it to Cramey). McCormick misses her fourth shot of the afternoon and the Crows have taken the lead and blown their chance all in the one action (well, several actually).


This is confirmed minutes later when the Giants rush the ball down (the going over the mark 50, popular in the third quarter, no longer a thing, apparently) and scores are level. Neither team can get the ball close enough to their goal before the siren confirms both teams’ seasons have reached the ‘mathematical chance’ stage. The standard of AFLW has dramatically lifted when these two teams are a threat for the wooden spoon.


We drive back from Marion Bay with a couple of boxes of possessions – good books, good cookware and some bits and bobs that appeal to the kids (including a garden gnome and an animated Santa). I still don’t know what to make of it all. Along the way an impressive array of birds of prey nest high in the stobie poles while the crabbers continue their silent vigil in the shallows.


3. Foley (Adel), 2. Eva (GWS), 1. Marinoff (Adel)


About Dave Brown

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


  1. John Butler says

    An understandable tinge of melancholy there, Dave.

    Does Eb Marinoff tackle the birds that fly past her house just for practice?

    “aquaplane through the shallows like combi vans in a monsoon” – great image. Speaking from prior experience?


  2. Premiership hangover for the Crows, Browny?

  3. Dave Brown says

    Thanks for the read and comments, folks. I suspect she does, John. Experience but only as a witness re. the combi. Was sitting at a big intersection in the ring road that skirts the northern side of the Adelaide CBD on a wet day. Watching the traffic turn right in front of me, a combi lumbered around the bend gathering speed, hits a puddle of water, aquaplanes and just keeps going around. Eventually it hit the median strip facing 180 degrees to the direction it was supposed to be facing, became airborne and crashed into cars waiting at the lights in the other direction. Right in front of me as Crows fans are wont to say.

    Not so much a hangover, Smokie, as the significant general improvement in the competition has brought Adelaide back to the pack. Adelaide has improved too – a number of premiership players are not getting a game (Bevan, Radan, Hatchard, Riley, Killian and Holmes are all playing SANFLW this weekend), just not as much as teams like Brisbane and GWS.

  4. Dave- thanks for undertaking reconnoiter of Marion Bay ahead of our trip there during school holidays!

    Volunteer work is such a fundamental plank of country life: so much of each week seems to be about this for the country folk I know.

    There may be an unqualifiable loss in watching a replay, but the immediate gains are great. Every now and then I treat myself to the 97 grand final and always get a tingle or two, particularly at- wait for it- Jarman round the body. That’ll do. That. Will. Do.


  5. Dave, Have I told you about the 1970 Yorketown Senior Colts premiership? Your aunt was doubtless a fan of the Yorketown Demons (probably where your love of red and blue came from). Unless she was Edithburgh Woodpecker yellow and green? Marion Bay is equidistant, but the road to Yorketown had some bitumen between the limestone back then.
    Perhaps your aunt was there that day and often asked you who that handsome young boy was in the premiership team photo next to Tony Giles?
    I’ll bring you an autographed copy for the grave when I’m in Adelaide in April.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Apart from a weekend dodging the buried razor fish on Troubridge Shoal (we knew the lighthouse keeper), I seldom ventured over and down “Yorke’s Peninsula”. Port Parham was far enough for us. Sounds like it was my loss Dave.

  7. Yvette Wroby says

    A contemplative and moving match and life report Dave. Thank you

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