AFLW Round 7 – Melbourne v Fremantle: Roberts family’s big adventure

Casey Fields, Cranbourne

Saturday 4.35pm 18 March 2017

Liz Roberts



The anticipation leading up to this match has been enormous in our household. Living in outer south east Melbourne the chance to see Fremantle anywhere near our home is usually nonexistent. There was great joy with the release of the women’s fixtures when we discovered it was only a 25 minute drive to see the Dockers play Melbourne at Casey Fields. After an eight week wait we are on our way to Cranbourne. Today is our baby boy’s first live match is an AFLW fixture. He will grow up not realising that a pro-league was once only the place of men.


Parking is a cinch and we get to behind Freo’s goals five min before bounce down. Once again it is warm, over 30 degrees. Fremantle’s star Captain Kara Donnellan is out injured. Kirby Bentley takes the role today. The siren sounds as we set up camp on the picnic blanket on the slope behind the goals. Melbourne is still in with a chance of making the final with a good win and another result going their way. So Freo can spoil their party.


Within seconds of the first bounce Alyssa Mifsud gets a goal for Melbourne. The Demons are starting strong. Freo’s Amy Lavell breaks through to get the ball to Ebony Antonio, at full forward, who then gets a goal. We give a cheer as best we can, our numbers are small. Melbourne’s forward line responds with a second major through Shelley Scott. A high scoring game looks likely with so many successful scoring shots so early in the game -three goals in three minutes. Despite Freo being strong in midfield, the ball gets into Melbourne’s forward line again, thanks to Deanna Berry, to create another goal opportunity. Stephanie Cain gives way a 50 metre penalty which leads to another Melbourne goal. It’s 24 to 6 points in favour of Melbourne. Berry gets a goal of her own thanks to a poor tackle from Freo. Then Freo’s young Ash Sharp has had a bad bump and staggers off the ground. This is not starting well for the Dockers. I surprise myself by recognising most of the players and yelling names accurately, in vain hope they will hear me. Then we witness a good run down the outside by Gabby O’ Sullivan passing to Gemma Houghton who kicks a running goal with speed from half forward. Freo have been inside their 50 without scoring as effectively as the opposition. It has been a familiar story for them throughout the season.


My daughter enjoys playing with a cheer squad pom-pom and kicking her baby footy to the path by the boundary fence for passersby to kick back to her. One lady enthusiastically comments about the nearly three year old’s potential as a future player! Melbourne goal early in the second quarter even though Freo seem to be moving better around the field. Freo struggle to get within 30 metres of goal and Melbourne gets possessions (well, they have the ball a lot) and another goal.


We move to the grandstand just behind the Freo bench to get it out of the sun during in the second quarter. By the time someone has recovered from handing back the pompom, we are settled in our new camp, and we start to feed the kids, it is a blowout with Freo thirty points behind. I look up from spooning orange food from a squeezy pack into the baby’s mouth and see the score is 42 to 12 points in favour of the Demons. Freo’s Amy Lavell has the ball and takes a kick for goal and misses. They have lifted their intensity but scoring shots seemed rushed.


Melbourne’s Alicia Newman gets a goal after a clean feed from Daisy Pearce. It is not a clean feed here as Bub gets food all over his pram! The Fremantle girls seem to be under continued pressure and stuff up in front of goal. I see the Docker’s bench watching every move and sense frustration pervading. The Melbourne players just have it together. Fremantle seem to get it out of defense and then have no player to pass the ball to in the forward line. Dana Hooker is in there doing a sterling job only to see the ball bounce back, with strong skills from Melbourne, from half forward seemingly sling-shot into a scoring opportunity. It’s just a case of playing for pride now with a 48 to 15 score line.


Freo’s first effort in the third quarter sees the ball head towards goal though the good work of Houghton it is nearly a major but get touched for a point. Scott goals again for the Demons. Fremantle just can’t take a treat but the defenders are trying and manage to prevent a goal when Melbourne is deep forward. Freo get the ball out of Melbourne’s forward line but then lose possession, the ball is back down to Paxman who gets another Melbourne goal. I see the frustration on the face of the hardworking Docker Lara Filocamo. My attention is taken with getting a snack while the baby is content. Hubby has packed a nice antipasto supper and the brie cheese provides a small comfort when your team is 44 points down.


Houghton lays a tough tackle, in fact by the end Freo win the tackle count! They are still keeping pressure on Melbourne but they get another point. It’s over for Freo but to their credit is still showing effort, Hayley Millers run and tackle a case in point, but remain scoreless for the quarter. I seek out the baby change room with our boy and return close on the siren. In the final 40 seconds Freo get a run into the forward line which is again unfruitful, the story of the day. Melbourne wins by a record 54 points.


For us, today has been about supporting our team. The Docker girls have a lot of lessons from the season, injuries to marquee players and adjusting to the tyranny of distance for a WA team, two realities but not the full explanation. I have seen a lot of positives for the future.


I have a nice chat with Kara Donnellan’s grandmother, who coincidently lives a town away from us, and get a snap of the kids with Kara. Pulling a Freo cheer squad flag out of my bag, I grab a few autographs from the players, something which is pretty difficult to do at an AFL men’s match these days. We drive home with two little people asleep in the back seat.


Go Freo girls in 2018!


The Roberts children got to meet Fremantle captain Kara Donnellan.


MELBOURNE       5.0 8.0 10.0 11.4 (70) FREMANTLE        2.0  2.3  2.4  2.4 (16)

GOALS Melbourne: Berry, Mifsud, Scott, Phillips 2, Paxman, Newman, Humphries. Fremantle: Antonio, Houghton.

BEST Melbourne: D Pearce, O’Dea, Mithen, Phillips, Grierson, Paxman, Humphries. Fremantle: Hooker, Houghton, Lavell, Filocamo.


Reports: Nil

Umpires: M.Pell, R. Guy, A. Mirabile. Crowd: 2,500

OUR VOTES    D.Pearce (MELBOURNE) 3, Berry (MELBOURNE) 2, Hooker (FREMANTLE) 1.


About Liz Roberts

Melbourne based Fremantle Dockers member. On Dockers bandwagon since day one. Former country newspaper reporter.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Excellent stuff…food everywhere, change rooms of a different kind, autographs and supporting your team. Love it. It’s good that you could see improvement in Freo and I thought Melbourne showed the best skills they’ve had all (short) season. At least each team has had one win. Thanks for the report.

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