AFLW State Of Origin Re-cap

A balmy, September night seemed like the perfect time of year to bring women’s footy back to the big stage. I was so excited to see some of my heroes back playing primetime football in front of an adoring crowd – rekindling the magic we experienced from the inaugural AFLW Season.

As the players warmed up, an incredible sense of love and laughter filled the spring air – these girls looked like they were having the time of their lives just from a simple kick-to-kick with their mates on the Etihad Stadium turf and it just made me so happy that I was watching them continue to live their dream of playing AFL. Their love for the game radiated in their comradery and my pride for what they were doing made me want to cry. I’m still not over how awesome it is to see women out on the pitch doing their thing. It’s so awesome, right?!

While state pride was on the line in this historic match about to be played between Victoria and the Allies, you knew these women were still eyeing each other off the way champion competitors do, but there was also a sense of joviality, the women’s game was back (though did it leave? How good has the VFLW season been?) and this game was different, special.

The little things contributed to this feeling, like having the names on the back of the player’s guernseys, a new touch to help the fans but the girls also had a bit of fun with it. Ellie Blackburn of the Big V was ‘Blacky’, Ally Jess Wuetsschner was ‘Woosha’ and Victorian Kara Donellan was dubbed ‘Juddy’, the nickname she was affectionately given by her team mates with her reminiscence to the star West Coast and Carlton midfielder. His playing style, not appearance (Obviously!).

The Allies came out strong but Victoria flexed their muscle towards the end of the first quarter and wouldn’t relent for the rest of the game. From early on it seemed the Football Gods were not with the Allies. Tayla Harris went off the ground with an injury scare but her leg was strapped up and she was back on the ground after the first break. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief for the forward; however, all was not well in the force.

The second quarter saw the Vics stamp themselves on the match, the Big V was alive and strong. The multiple goal scorers kept coming Garner, Hope, D’Arcy, Blackburn, Paxman – the the game’s stand out, Daisy Pearce even got herself on the board. The Vics leading at the main break by 39 points.

At half time I surveyed the crowd, I was wondering where all the fans were who packed out Princes Park on that amazing night back in March. Only 9,400 people had rocked up to Etihad Stadium to watch the return to State of Origin football for AFLW. I was genuinely surprised as after such a successful first season that saw lock-out crowds and venues at capacity – surely the drawcard to see the best of the best representing Victoria and the Allies in a Saturday night blockbuster for FREE would have drawn a crowd? Especially with no other AFL on to compete with it!

The third term saw more carnage as the Big V not only continued to take charge of the game. Jamie Lambert took a one-handed mark of the year from an expert delivery courtesy of Melissa Hickey. The goal tally continued and Daisy Pearce seemed to be everywhere at once, she would finish the game with a record 37 disposals. But we watched on in horror as three women were taken from the field. In three successive, horrific incidents after half-time we saw Allies dropping like flies.

Emma Zielke was first, left broken on the ground after she received a friendly-fire knee to the ribs from teammate Bianca Jakobbson, watching her attempt to gather herself was excruciating, she held her side in utter agony as she slowly left the field of play. She was taken directly to hospital.

Next was captain Chelsea Randall who hobbled off the ground unable to walk. Ice immediately strapped to her thigh and she was done.

Then, as if that weren’t enough, that the Allies were already two down and being demolished on the scoreboard, the ground again held its breath as Kirby Bentley went down – we were all praying that it wasn’t her knee after all she’s been through already with it.

By this time the Vics had already blown the Allies out of the water and now with these crippling blows, the annihilation wasn’t slowing down. The Big V were up by 53 towards the end of the third quarter. I wondered if the mercy rule existed in State of Origin. This carnage was just going to continue for another quarter.

The Allies rallied and continued to fight but the Big V were not going to let up.

Eva kicked the first of the final term for the Big V. Then it was Garner, Ashmore, Kearney, Blackburn, it’s 104 to 16, when is it going to stop! Not before Garner gets another with only seconds to go and the Vics defeat the Allies by 97 points.

While the margin was something I couldn’t have predicted, I thought these two sides would have been a bit more evenly matched despite how strong I knew the Victorian midfield would be, and the injuries damped the celebration, I’m still grateful I showed up and was part of 9,400 strong crowd. There will come a time where we will look back at the lists of these two teams and be amazed that we had the opportunity to see these women all play in the same game, and for free!

Names like Pearce, Hope, Hickey, Brennan, Marinoff, Perkins, Frederick-Traub, Chiocci, Kearney, Paxman, Mithen and so many more – were all that accessible to us as fans. After the game both sides took their time and went around the boundary, signing autographs and posing for photos with fans, it doesn’t get better than that. So keep turning up to these games everyone, this time is so, so precious you don’t want to look back and regret not being a part of it.

About Kasey Symons

Kasey Symons is the Women's Football Editor here at The Footy Almanac. She is also a PhD Candidate at Victoria University where her research is focused on gendered issues in sports cultures (primarily AFL) at a fan level. Kasey is a born and raised Victorian who barracks for the West Coast Eagles and yes, she knows that is weird.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the report, Kasey.

    I was really looking forward to this match and watched it on tv.
    Alas, unfortunately the blow-out in the scores detracted a little from the occasion.

    And I must say that I am really disappointed by the crowd attendance figure.
    Having pondered this since Saturday night, I am more and more inclined to believe that Etihad is the issue.
    Play these games at the old suburban venues (Western Oval, Arden St, Punt Rd etc) and the crowds will flock in, I reckon.

  2. Kasey Symons says:

    I agree – I think this would have been a great event at Princes park but I guess it was good for the players to get some more experience on the Etihad turf.

    I was also thinking the time may have contributed too – I know the Saturday night fixture is good for TV but perhaps the afternoon time slot might have been better for families.

  3. I liked the game being at Etihad; I’m soft and prefer the nicer facilities. But I do agree that an afternoon game might have enabled more kids to go along. what disturbed me the most was the pointless blast of loud music after each goal. Which nonsense committee at the AFL thought that one up?

  4. Kasey Symons says:

    That music was ridiculous! The AFL need to realise that it doesn’t have to try to be like every US sport!

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