AFLW Round 4 – Melbourne v Collingwood: A Glimmer of Hope

AFLW Round 4, Melbourne v Collingwood
Saturday February 24, TP, 7.10pm



In 2008 my then 8 year old daughter Anastasia was taking on the boys and beating them at Auskick.


She outmarked, outkicked, outran and outbumped most of them. As she came off the ground, proud and full of confidence in her Collingwood jumper, she asked:


“Dad, can I play for Collingwood?”


I was taken aback by the sheer innocence and normality of the question.

When I explained to her that only boys can play at the highest level in the AFL she was bewildered: “Why? I’m better than most of the boys”.


Gender: Why should it matter if you really are good enough?


AFLW is a step in the right direction. Young girls can aspire to play for the club they barracked for as kids and that is a good thing.


It is with this memory that I begin to watch the winless Pies take on Melbourne in Alice Springs.


Collingwood attack early, yet haphazardly going forward. Downie repels for the Dees and Hore gets the first one on the board for Melbourne, whose field kicking is precise in the opening minutes.


Emma King is presenting well around the ground, but the Dees are tackling hard and forcing errors from Collingwood’s midfield. O’Dea gets an easy goal after poor defence (is Buckley coaching the women too?).


It looks like another bleak result lays ahead for the Magpies, who were scrappy and devoid of confidence in the first term.


Mo Hope is leading well and Bernardi begins to play an important role in the second. A terrific passage of play featuring Chiocci, Bonnici leads to Hope finding Bernardi who breaks the shackles for the Pies.


Paxman is asserting her authority in the midfield, but Garner, Duffin and Molloy defend grandly to thwart the Dees.


Suddenly, Collingwood is putting the pressure on Melbourne and a great Bernardi tackle on Paxman, frees Hope who snaps truly. A great result for her confidence and the entire Collingwood team.


Lambert finds Bernardi who gets it to Hope again and the Pies are amazingly in front at half-time.


At the break I find myself asking:


Aside from Bec Goddard and Michelle Cowan, why are all the other AFLW coaches men in 2018?


Why are there two male commentators calling AFLW in 2018?


In the Chemist Warehouse Ad, why is the ‘Epic’ boy asking Daisy Pearce for her autograph not a young girl?


It tells me that the language of the game is still predominantly narrated by men. Let’s hope that changes as the seasons pass.


Early in the third the Pies defend grandly and are rebounding well. Grant to Bernardi to Hope to Edwards sets up another easy goal after a classy passage of play. After a softish 50 metre penalty, Edwards scores for two in two minutes. Hutching snaps another after a brilliant tackle by Darcy and we shoot to a twenty three point lead.


This is great to watch. So much for congested footy in AFLW.


The Demons pull one back through Mifsud, but they look tired and are missing their targets or kicking the ball out of bounds too often.


Bernardi, who is playing a blinder, just misses, as does Hope from 15 metres. “Come on Pies, put them away!” I yell at the telly. I’m watching COLLINGWOOD win and that matters more than gender for a moment.


Skipper, Steph Chiocci consistent and safe through the game is backed by Bonnici, Lambert and Dracy as they repel a series of Melbourne attacks. At the last change it’s the Pies by 18. If we can nail the first in the last we should be home.


Bonnici’s tagging role on champion Daisy Pearce has been outstanding. Pearce, O’Dea and Paxman try to get the Dees back into it early in the last, but the Pies defend beautifully through Molloy, Garner and Duffin.

The penetration in Chloe Molloy’s kicking stands out and it was a smart move having her kick out of full-back.


Chiocci scores a beauty from outside forty metres and Barden adds another soon after which sees the difference back out to 29 points. Great pressure from Hope and the irrepressible Bernardi leads to another from Kuys.


The last five minutes sees both teams going through the motions as the Alice heat takes its toll.
Collingwood open their AFLW account in magnificent style and sing ‘Good Old Collingwood Forever’ with passion.


A glimmer of hope for a shot at finals remains.


MELBOURNE             2.2 2.2 3.4 3.6 (24)
COLLINGWOOD        0.0 3.2 6.4 9.4 (58)

Melbourne: Hore, Mifsud, O’Dea
Collingwood: Hope 2, Edwards 2, Bernardi, Barden, Chiocci, Hutchins, Kuys

Melbourne: Paxman, Downie, O’Dea, Cunningham, Jakobsson
Collingwood: Bernardi, Lambert, Chiocci, Bonnici, Hope, King

Melbourne: Smith (concussion), Cranston (hand)
Collingwood: Nil
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Galbraith, Crosby, Broadbent
Our Votes
3 Christina Bernardi
2 Brittany Bonnici
1 Karen Paxman


About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Nicely done Phil,

    Great to see the AFL Pies finally score a win (slow starts to the season seem compulsory for the men and women the past couple of years !) I agree with you that the AFLW is both good to watch and an important step in the sport being more inclusive. It is fantastic for girls to aspire to play for their team -and eventually this opportunity will be open to girls following all AFL clubs.

    Go Pies !

  2. Congratulations on your Pies’ win Phil!

    Has Anastasia been playing other sports since the Auskick? Many AFLW players have backgrounds in other sports, so I think she could play footy and it’s not too late.

    It’s sad to see men dominating AFLW. But there lady commentator and Anthony Hudson were commentary team on the Bulldogs versus Blues game.

    Hope more women involve in AFLW.



  3. Kasey Symons says

    Great report Phil, the Pies have arrived.

    Interesting points re: men dominating the women’s footy space. I would definitely like to see more women in media covering the game but I actually don’t mind the young boy in the Chemist Warehouse ad. I think it’s important to show young men looking up to and admiring women as role models just as much as it is for young girls to have them to aspire to.

  4. G’day Phil

    I agree with Kasey’s comment about Epic boy. Why should female footballers only be admired by women, when men and women admire male players?

    Agree with your view on the commentary teams, more female voices are required and not just on the boundary line.

    A pet hate of mine is a male AFLW commentator stating that female player is ‘a [insert male player’s name] type of footballer’. It shows that the commentator is too lazy or lacks the ability and/or imagination to look outside his male lens and actually describe the skills on display and their value and impact on the game.

    Let’s fast forward to the day when an AFLM commentators say: ‘[insert male player’s name here] is a Daisy Pearce type of player…’.


  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks Steve, great win for the Pies. The style of football after quarter time was very good. They started to gel as a team and were aware of each other’s presence. Hope they can give it a shake over the next few weeks.
    Cheers Yoshi,
    Ana played in an Under 18 premiership for the Darebin Falcons along with Mercedes Kane (daughter of Almanacker and Women’s footy advocate, Rick ‘Trucker Slim’ Kane. You can find his report of that amazing Grand Final here:
    Ana still loves watching footy, but her main game is table tennis these days. She is her school’s champion, boys and girls. As you say, it’s not too late if she still wants to have a go.

    Thanks Kasey and RTB,
    I could go either way with ‘Epic Boy’. I think it’s great that young boys can admire female players, but I just felt that the underlying message of the ad was Daisy getting his seal of approval as a legit footballer. Mo Hope is also in the ad firing handballs to no one in particular, so why not have an Epic Girl asking for her autograph as well?
    ‘Type of player’ also irks me RTB. Leave it to Peta Searle to decide that I reckon.
    Appreciate the comments and Go Pies !!

  6. Phil I’m confused. Probably because I’m a silly old fart. But I am a footballing er. And I dare say I’ve watched more women’s footy than most.

    But on the one hand we have this:
    “Gender: why should it matter if you really are good enough.”

    But then later we have:
    “Why are there two male commentators calling AFLW in 2018? “

    Maybe the male commmentators are good enough? Would female commentators be better? If so why? Does AFLW need its own voice? If so what is that voice? Why can’t it just be football? Why is there a constant need to bring up this great divide when the aim is equality? Maybe I’m just have no understanding of the modern narrative? Maybe I’m just an old fart? Maybe I’ll stop now.

    But please, please, please can I just read one AFLW report that tells me about the game as a game of footy, not as a part of a giant crusade?

  7. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Aww Dips, I’d have thought you’d be a bit more sympathetic to crusaders this week after Billy Graham died.
    Seriously, my point was that if Ana was a boy I wouldn’t even have to think of answering the question. I was left dumbfounded because the kid was an equal in the schoolyard. Girls who were good at cricket or footy in my Primary school days were treated as a novelty/tom boys and all the other linguistic cultural demarcation points that us humans need to create to separate ourselves from each other.

    Yes, gender shouldn’t matter if you are good enough, and yet history has been on the side of the boys in sport, the armed forces, politics,education and the major religions.

    Why not one male and one female commentator in all AFL games? I want to hear at least one female voice calling the game because it gives them an authority otherwise denied them. Why?
    On a more serious matter: What are your thoughts on ‘Epic Boy’

  8. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks Phil. I found myself first half contemplating all the great Darebin Falcons players in Melbourne and how there were none in Collingwood (thinking to myself that the Falcons players know how to win) and Collingwood’s rise in pressure and form turned that line of thought onto it’s head. It felt like the older players lost presence of mind and power, while the Pies just kept acting like it wasn’t 37 degrees, muggy and disgusting footy weather. Loved the work of Molloy, Bonnicci was terrific as always, Chiocci a great captain and presence, and it was great to see Hope show why she is brilliant. She’s better at the sneaky goal gets when everyone has forgotten she’s hanging around.

    Hey, old fart and friend Dips,
    I never know how to respond to this type of comment. I am an older fart than you, and I understand you just want to read a match report. BUT, every week the women’s game is thrown so many gender-issued comments, critiques, commentary that this is the place we can respond to that. If we used the words ‘race’ instead of ‘gender’ and we had those of a different colour treated in the way the women have – for eg. constantly being criticised for lack of skills (when as Verity Sanders wrote on the 23rd) women haven’t had the chance to grow up developing those skill, you will understand why gender is often spoken about. You can’t have one group ‘forgetting’ that they have lacked the ‘right’ play. This is why it’s being talked about as being more than footy. It is more than footy, just as the blokes game is. It’s about our communities and it’s people and the issues that affect it. It’s like the Pride Rounds and the Indigenous Rounds. They both speak a story of those footy has taken awhile to include and treat appropriately.

    Phil is honestly reporting his own experience with his daughter. Having to tell one child there is no pathway when there is for another, is an issue Phil had.

    So until we can see the women players getting remunerated appropriately, have access to facilities, sponsorship, training, and footy futures, we will have these discussions. Believe me, many women would like to just enjoy the footy too. It’s hard when there is a constant bombardment and conversation that can only be responded to in a wider context.

    It’s been a surprising round of footy and every game has a great impact on the top two. With the draw between GWS and Adelaide, suddenly everything changes again.

  9. The innocence of children.
    A glimmer of Hope.
    Very nice, LB.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Great win by the Pies. Watched this with one of my sons, and I’m happy to say, my 4 1/2 yo daughter. She loved it. As did we.

    Bernardi was fantastic. Wonder if she has an Aussie Spotify playlist?

  11. Phil – epic boy is very clever and on the money.

  12. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Cheers Yvette, Many don’t know it has taken Daisy Pearce, Mo Hope and many others over a decade of hard slog to become overnight sensations. Reading the backstories of their careers in the local leagues makes me appreciate just how hard they have worked for their well-deserved recognition.

    Smokie – In Greece they have a saying: “You learn the truth from children, drunks and madmen.” I haven’t seen enough evidence to suggest that view can be challenged any time soon !

    Thanks Luke – It’s great when the daughter gets into it as well. Was so happy for the female Magpies. Some of the passages of play were textbook. Great stuff.

    Dips – Indeed he is…

  13. Love it Phil.
    Speak your truth, speak it often.
    Maybe that’s what the children, drunks and madmen have in common.

    Loved the smiling faces and hijinks of Collingwood women on various social media.
    Captain Steph is a ripper.

  14. Snowy from Lonny now Busso says

    Great report Phil.I also found myself yelling at the telly and punched the air when the mighty Maggies hit the front.Go Pies.

Leave a Comment