The Definitive and in No Way Completely Biased Toward the Bulldogs and In Particular Emma Kearney AFLW 2.0 Season Wrap Up

Greetings, sports fans! Like a comet shooting across a night sky, the AFLW 2018 season has come and gone. As the poet said “I did but see her passing by/And yet I love her till I die” which is a not at all creepy thing for a Prime Minister to say about a visiting Head of State. I went to 7 games live, including the Grand Final and I watched EVERY OTHER GAME on the telly via the magic of the internet.  So, here it is, the ultimate season conversation piece – in the handy form of a series of made up awards!


Winner of the Sir John Kerr Award for the Worst Exercise of Discretionary Powers: THE AFL

The theme of this season was memos, memos everywhere, but not a drop to drink (probably because the players are so poorly paid).


The AFL is very fond of sending out vaguely threatening and unenforceable style tips to clubs when they think that “the look” of “the game” might tarnish “the brand”. They sent such a missive after one round of AFLW Season 2, requiring a 5/6/5 set up at centre bounces and requesting that teams do not set up “extra players or defensive zones” behind the ball.


Also, AFL headquarters has exercised their fun powers to direct the VFLW to implement zones for all stoppages (including kick-ins from behinds). Five players must be in their team’s front half , and two of the five must be inside the forward 50. The same rules apply to defenders, meaning that if five forwards and five defenders per team are in their correct positions, there will be 20 players required to “go to zones” every single time there’s a ball-up  or boundary throw-in or a minor score. The set-up for centre bounces is slightly different, with a 6/6/6 formation required from both sides.


In other words, don’t coach to win. Coach to look pretty.  Keep the brand looking good, so we can sell the game. What exactly they think they’re selling when it comes to AFLW has never become clear. Footy is footy – we just want a chance to watch women play for the clubs we have loved all our lives. We don’t need starting positions, or zones, or last-possession rules. What we want is a competition. What we want is the contest. What we want is the chance to watch Emily Bates dance through the centre, or Courtney Gum bullock through a pack. We want footy, played by women.


The women need to be paid enough to be full-time athletes, the competition needs a longer season, AFLW grounds such as Princess Park need an upgrade, and we need more match experience for umpires and players (see the longer season proviso). It’s not very complicated. And as for the twitter heroes complaining about skills or low scores or what have you – well frankly they can piss right off. I guarantee that if 99% of these keyboard warriors ever met Erin Phillips or Mel Hickey, or Alicia Eva or Sabrina Frederick-Traub, they’d fall over themselves to get a selfie.


Winner of the Bring the Niggle/Scrunchy of Justice Award for the Most Emma Kearney Like Performance: Emma Kearney

What a season from Emma Kearney. Not only did she win just about every award going around, play a key role in both getting the Dogs into the Granny (that 50 metre goal!) and in winning the big one (that tackle on Kashy and the goal from the free!) but she also was played a starring role in the niggle/aggro event of the season – the Ye Olde Traditional Sling Your Opponent Into the plastic chairs on the boundary line courtesy of Britt Bonnici. During the Pride match, you could see Kearney’s mouth moving at every stoppage as she added some (no doubt) fascinating observations to the chat around the packs. Sam Lane later reported that the Blues were shocked at the level of aggression from the Dogs. Others were shocked by the Blues season-long lack of aggression (see the next award). Such is Kearney’s brilliance and humor that upon receiving the AFLW Best and Fairest award, she apologised to “almost everyone here” for sledging them at one time or another.  She’s off to the Kangas to lead the first North Melbourne AFLW team and as a life-long North fan, I can’t wait to see her lead the club out. Chills! Chills, I tell you! Plus, like me, EK is a state school teacher. Bloody champs, we are.


Winner of the John Williamson’s “The Club”  Award for Most “Club in Crisis” headlines: Carlton Football Club

Carlton had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Season.

I know, I know. It’s so easy to hate the club who once boasted John Elliot as President. It’s easy to be down on a club who once tried to buy North Melbourne. And it’s not exactly hard to laugh at a club who put out such a mealy-mouthed response on the question of same-sex marriage (yeah, nah, pretty much sums up their approach). But I have to say that a deep and abiding admiration for the guile of Darcy Vescio, the skill and grunt of Brianna Davey and the footy nous (and commentary skills) of Lauren Arnell has changed my mind. So it is not pleasing to me to see Carlton’s women’s team in crisis. A horror season from the Blue Baggers saw captain Davey go down with an ACL injury, former captain Arnell dropped and coach Damian Keeping leave the club. As usual, fingers were pointed – at the game plan, at Tayla Harris (unfairly, in my view she played her role) and most of all at the recruiters for swapping out Exon and draft picks.


Winner of the Most Rubbish Commentary Award, as sponsored by Lynx Body Spray and Reddit Threads by Men’s Rights Activists: Kane Cornes

Super stiff competition here! So many idiots, so few awards! This award could have gone to fool who made whacky and super original homophobic jokes, or how they’re so sad and lonely and fear death and that’s why they hate anything they don’t understand and because anger is a mask for pain and … anyway.

Kane Cornes said this in the lead up to the AFLW Grand Final: “The winning AFLW players get a ring valued at 6k. Looks sensational but surely this is inequality?”

No, Kane. You know what looks like inequality? INEQUALITY.

AFLW Total Player Payments in 2018: $2.752 million /30 players x 8 clubs

AFL Total Player Payments in 2017: $231.4 million/approx 39 primary list  players x 16 clubs

AFLW average pay: $11,466 for a 24 week contract  the equivalent of $24,843 annually

AFL average pay: $370,833 for a 52 week contract

Cornes claimed that his tweet was ‘tongue in cheek’ but really, was it? Certainly he in no way qualified his comments even when the sexist trolls added to the pile-on. I mean, sure. Sexism is funny. Hilarious, even. You know what’s even funnier? Kane Cornes. You are a card. Well done. Here’s a lifetime supply of misogyny and Lynx body spray, just for you.


Winner of the Lisa De Vanna Award for Most Outspoken Player: Katie Brennan

When I think of great spokespersons for women’s sport in this country, Matilda Lisa De Vanna always leaps to mind. She’s seen it all, done it all, won it all, and now she’s not afraid to call a spade a shovel.

The inspiring figure of Bulldog captain Katie Brennan takes out this award for her stand against sexism. Banned for a sling tackle, needing a court injunction to allow her to play, Brennan did what she has always done and put the team first, deciding that the Dogs didn’t need any further dramas or distractions. In doing so, KB fired a broadside worthy of a Napoleonic era man-o-war saying “It is even more troubling to know that if I was a man playing in the AFL and was reported for the identical tackle, I would not have been suspended and I would be playing in a Grand final tomorrow. The fight for gender equality is as every bit as important to me as the Grand Final and the decisions I have made reflect both of those priorities.”

Katie Brennan will be taking her case to the Human Rights Commission.

This is only an imaginary award, but you really do deserve a real one.


Winner of the Gabba Curator Award for Best Women’s Footy Venue: Princess Park

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Instead, express yourself in… poetry!

Oh, Princess Park

Why so dark?

And why must your toilets leak?

I tried to cheer

But spilt my beer

And yet I’ll be back next week.

Oh, Princess Park

Why all the queues?

And why is your catering so sad?

Your stands are old

But the atmosphere’s gold

I was late, the PT is quite bad.


Winner of the With Friends like These Who Needs Enemies Award: Gil McLachlan

On the Brennan suspension and pay disparity, McLachlan had this to say:

‘’I don’t think it’s fair to say it is sexist just because the rules are different.”

Okay, Gil.  Sure. But is it fair to say it’s sexist to pay women so much less than male players so that you have to set up a series of suspensions where a man would have received a fine?

I’ll let you see yourself out.


Winner of the Hot Chocolate Everyone’s A Winner for the Best Goal Celebration: Jessica Wuetschner

Kate McCarthy leapt into Sabrina Frederick-Traub’s arms and clung on like a koala. Erin Phillips streaking away from the goals, her grin as wide as Norwood Oval.  Ellie Blackburn giving Lauren Arnell a super cheeky double thumbs up after the Blue gifted the her a goal in the Pride Match at Whitten Oval. The AFLW goal celebrations really came of age this year – and so did the twirling double fingered celebration of the irrepressible Jessica Wuetschner. A great celebration from a great forward.


Winner of Joan Cusack Award for the Best Supporting Players Award:

Many, many, many players

Joan Cusack is an absolute treasure. If you’ve never had the absolute pleasure of catching her turn in the Mike Nicholls’ film “Working Girl”, do yourself a favour and check out her delivery, her demeanour and her general charisma. Love her. There are many, many Joan Cusacks in the AFLW. Unsung heroines with tons of talent who always make everyone around them a little bit better. They may not get the gongs, but the fans love them. Kirsty Lamb of the Bulldogs is a classic Joan. Hard-working, tough as old shoe leather and rarely beaten. Tanya Hetherington of the Giants is another Joan  – solid as a rock in defence and admired by her teammates and largely ignored by the media. Hardly anyone at Collingwood gets to fly under the radar, given the Pies’ enormous fan base and massive media imprint, but Emma Grant comes close. A reliable and smart player who buoys her team, Emma is a Joan. So many Joans. So many fabulous players.

Well, party people. That’s it for another AFLW Season. Before we started AFLW 2018, I wrote this little piece:

How many of my predictions came true? Send your correct answers to G. McLachlan at AFL House for your chance to win six million Steven Hocking memos!

And for this piece, if you can name all 140 Joans in the AFLW, you will win* the chance to watch women’s footy unencumbered by interference by the AFL!

*you will not win this



About Jackie Lynch

North Melbourne fan by birth, but Bulldogs for the AFLW and Darebin Falcons for the VFLW. I am a high school teacher in the Mighty West and a parent of two kids. Other interests include history, reading, running slowly and the Facebook Page Shit Brick Fences of Melbourne.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Pure gold again Jackie. I love that u can win an award and not actually get anything. Why does it feel like reviews and supercommittees and memos and directives are likely badly thought out reactions. And now with the AFLM … three game premiership decider??? I worry that the AFL are taking the puss to distract us and then quietly ruin a good game or a bad game of footy. Still waiting for memos for North, St Kilda and Carlton last night .

  2. bruce dowsing says

    Very entertaining Jackie. I totally agree with what you said about AFL ‘Committee’? interference to try to improve ‘the look of the brand’, although they cannot leave the men’s comp alone either. I would have liked your thoughts on how easy it is for an AFLW club’s best player/s to just walk out and join another team. Loyalty anyone? What are the young girls who just found a hero to feel when their hero walks away so quickly? The pay disparity is a can of worms with comparisons fraught. Wages are influenced by sponsors, tv rights, gate receipts etc. The men are full-time, whereas I’m sure most of the women, like Kearney, have other employment income, much like in the old VFL days for the men. The AFLW pay will surely increase as the comp takes off and I look forward to seeing it do so.

  3. Truly awesome & very cutting! So many great lines! I laughed out loud.

  4. Comprehensive!

  5. Kasey Symons says

    This is excellent Jackie. You’re a genius!

  6. Jackie Lynch says

    Thanks all. Thanks for your encouragement! I love to get the feedback going and the discussions.

    Although in a completely self-interested way I am thrilled that Emma Kearney is coming to North, as a unionist, I also understand why she did it. At the Dogs, EK is third in line behind Captain Katie Brennan and vice-captain Ellie Blackburn on the paylist. Brenny and EB are the two marquee players and they can garner up to $45,000 (approx) to be the club ambassadors. EK is never going to displace one of those two players, despite winning two B&Fs and the competition wide award. I can’t blame the Dogs, either. When she is finally fit (and she just had an ankle reconstruction), Katie Brennan will be close to the best player in the comp. KB s also one of the ‘faces’ of the comp and is worth $$$ in marketing. Ellie Blackburn is just about unbeatable and is also an ‘untouchable’ for similar reasons. What’s more, EK has a long-standing connection with North via the MUWFC – she’s a long-time Mugar. I can’t really blame EK for taking more money and leaving. If they wanted her to stay, they would have had to let KB or EB down somehow. Also, in the long run, it may turn out that EK leaving saves a lot of other Pups from being traded in the coming shake-up. Existing clubs will have to sacrifice players of good quality to maintain some fairness for the incoming clubs.

    On the issue of the professionalization of women’s footy , it’s complex, I agree. However, some dodgy back of the napkin maths tells me that the AFL is sandbagging their own product a bit.

    Last season, sponsors flocked to the AFLW. How much are NAB paying to sponsor the comp? There are also several other sponsors. Let’s say it’s $1 million all up for the AFLW as a whole. Each club has a major sponsor and several minor sponsors of their women’s teams alone. Each club sells memberships, merchandise, beer and food at the game. Let’s be conservative and say $100,000 per club. TV rights – the AFL gave them away for peppercorn rent last year. Now The Age reported that TV exces were over the moon as for a stand alone (ie – not up against a men’s AFL match) AFLW game on a Friday or Saturday night, they were making about $500k to $1m across the weekend in selling the ad time. That’s every week. THIS year, Channel 7 sandbagged AFLW ratings by putting games on their secondary channels . Guess what’s up for tender for 2019? Women’s footy. 7 drove down the ratings to drive down the price, maybe? Anyhow, there’s money there. No doubt. I know there are other expenses, not just the women’s wages. But gee whiz. There’s money already.

  7. bring back the torp says


    In 2014, the AFL Commission created The Charter Of The Game. It has been generally well accepted by the AF community.
    Do you know what this is? And how it is very relevant to many of the issues you have written here – does it change any of your views?

    I have watched a lot of AFLW games over the last 2 years, & I have enjoyed most games, most of the time. And I look forward to watching the AFLW again in 2019.
    There is considerable room for AFLW improvement, IMO, to attract the AVERAGE AF fan to become an avid AFLW follower. Do you agree? If so, what improvement?

    I want the AFLW to prosper, & offer well paid full time employment for those who want to become full time AFLW players. I would like the AFLW to become the biggest female, stand alone, H & A, non-international sporting competition in the world.
    There was a VERY BIG drop in the Ratings in 2018, to average c.130,000 per televised match. Why? What are the consequences if this Ratings’ drop stabilises at 130,000? And if it continues to fall?

    You wrote “The women need to be paid enough to become full time athletes”. When do you envisage this should happen? And from where would the funds derive?
    What TV & Sponsor commercial imperatives will determine if this eventuates? And what type of AFLW game styles?

    Bec Goddard has stated that Zones etc may need to be introduced into the AFLW. Daisy Pearce has said she has an open mind on these issues, but generally prefers at the moment that the AFLW not introduce any new Rules.
    Do you have an open mind? Or are you categorically against new AFLW Rules/ playing within “the spirit of the game”?

    When AFL & other male comp. players tackle a player, pin one or both arms, then slam that player into the ground heavily, they usually (if clearly seen, & reported by the Umpire) receive a suspension of at least 2 weeks. Do you agree?

    Do you believe that rough play, which has a real potential to cause concussion to an opponent, should be eradicated -with the threat of heavy suspensions- from AF at all levels ?

    For the AVERAGE AFL fan, do you suspect they approve, or disapprove, of K.Brennan taking her grievance, claiming sexual discrimination by the AFL, to the HRC?

    It has been widely reported by medical experts that females have at least 5 times the propensity of serious knee injuries in AF (& other sports), cf. male players.
    It is incontrovertible in the AFLW that there is often very congested play; & that the incidence of tackling is very high.
    What ramifications does this have for female players experiencing serious injuries (knees, or other types of injury)?

  8. Jackie Lynch says

    Hi Torp

    I’ve addressed the question of money and TV ratings in a previous comment. I think, over time, that the sponsorship and viewership will only grow. See that comment.

    I”m not sure that the AFLW appeals to or has to appeal to only the ‘average’ (do you mean male?) fan. AFLW may never, ever be as lucrative as the men’s game. It would not have to be in order for the women to earn professional wages. It might appeal to more people if it was on the main 7 channel, for starters. Or if it was better marketed. I don’t know. But there’s a real audience. How big? No idea. Bigger than it is, for sure.

    On zones, my opinion counts for very little. But no, I don’t like zones. Neither does Pearce. Having an open mind means she’s open to dialogue. I’m not in dialogue with anyone with any power. If I was, I wouldn’t be writing facetious satire of the AFL. That would be counter-productive. Generally speaking, I’m with Daisy. No more rule changes.

    On Brennan’s suspension, you are asking the wrong questions in my view. Would a male player faced suspension in the current system? The Bulldogs and others said no, a male player would have been fined. Should the rules be different around protecting the head? Probably. But that’s not my point. My point is it’s different rules for men and women because women are paid far, far less. Do I think the avergae AFL fan supports KB and the Dogs? Don’t know. Why would that matter? If fighting injustice was easy, everyone would be doing it.

    On women’s knee injuries. No idea. More knee injuries, maybe? I have zero expertise in either managing or treating athletes. Certainly it’s a risk. Athletes risk injury. Isn’t that part of all sports?

    Thanks for reading.

  9. bring back the torp says


    You have not addressed the issue of the 2014 Charter Of The Game, which formally outlined the “essence”/most desirable & immutable attributes of AF – that should always be adhered to. These included “continuous play”, free flowing play”, & an “attacking” style of play.
    Because of AFLW coaches emphasis on massive & continuous flooding, The Charter is not being adhered to.
    You have not addressed the issue that, as part of the conditions that AFL Clubs be granted an AFLW licence, they had a responsibility to promote the AFLW & female GR AF.
    You have not addressed the issue that the Sept.2016 stand alone women’s Melb. V. Footscray match rated at over 1,000,000 -& both coaches adopted an attacking game style (ie no massive & continuous flooding). The women’s skills were clearly displayed (as they had time & space often), good goals kicked, & the match was greeted in the MSM with almost universal acclaim -so much so, the AFL brought forward the AFLW from 2020 -2017.

    How much do you believe, if the AFLW becomes a full time professional comp., the average player should be paid
    Are you suggesting sponsorship funds will cover the majority of wages for approx. 550+ players eventually? If not, what areas of AFL current funding would need to be cut?

    The Average fan, obviously, includes male & female fans. Do you think that goal droughts appeal to the Average fan? You have not addressed my claim that there is “considerable room for improvement” in the AFLW’s appeal to the Average fan.
    You did not address why Bec Goddard believes that Zones may be necessary.

    Broadcasters require high Ratings & plenty of goals (for ads to be shown) to maximise the value of the Rights; & maximise what advertisers would pay. Do you agree that the massive flooding is detrimental?
    Broadcasters would be diminishing the potential of advertising revenue if they deliberately reduced the Ratings -any evidence of your “conspiracy” view?

    You said “Women’s knee injuries… no idea. More knee injuries, maybe?”
    The propensity for female players to develop serious knee injuries has been very widely canvassed in the MSM. It is an accepted fact. The current AFLW very heavy & continuous congestion/ very high nos. of tackles could be contributing to serious knee & other AFLW injuries -do you dispute this?

    The penalties to be applied to AFLW players found guilty were discussed with players/AFLPA/other relevant persons prior to the season -& were agreed to?
    Why weren’t claims of sexual discrimination raised previously with the AFL?

  10. Hi Bring back the Torp

    I doubt Jackie was expecting this level of interrogation!

    I reckon it would be best if you wrote a piece outlining your position on the various matters.


  11. Jackie Lynch says

    Hi there Bring Back the Torp

    What I meant about knee injuries was that I personally have no expertise. I accept that knee injuries are a concern. But injuries are a concern for everyone. At the moment there is a rash of hamstring injuries in the men’s competition. Should the men slow down? I would not suggest that. Injuries are a part of sport.

    As to you other points, I have said a number of times that with increased professionalism will come increased skills which will grow the game which will bring the sponsors and the viewers. An investment is needed.

    I will leave the Charter aside. I’m not sure I get your point and I have explained my objection to zones. The AFLW is what it is and we cannot expect part-time athletes to produce the same level of skill as full time athletes.

    Apart from that, there is much to like about the AFLW. This piece was partly satire, partly analysis, mostly appreciation of the AFLW.

    Again, we are boxing at shadows to try to predict what the “average fan” does and doesn’t like. I don’t know the answer.

    Maybe you should write an article outlining your vision for the AFLW?

    Thanks for reading, Bring Back the Torp.

  12. bring back the torp says

    Hi Jackie

    You said ” I will leave the Charter aside. I’m not sure I get your point…”.
    This comment amplifies your position, & general understanding about the quintessential appeal of AF, very clearly. I strongly support the principles in The Charter Of The Game, created by the AFL Commission in 2014, for both the AFLW & AFL.

    You appear not to be aware of the well publicised, much greater propensity (cf. males) that females have for catastrophic knee injuries -which can sideline them for 12 months. And the links between huge congestion & huge tackle numbers in the AFLW.

    I believe that AFL “men (& women) should slow down” -by replacing the interchange with 2 substitutes only. Onballers can rest only in the pockets – as they did satisfactorily since the 20’s to the 80’s. This would restore The Charter’s desire for “continuous”, “freeflowing” play, & “an attacking style of play” (for the latter, at least in the second half).
    Alternatively, 2 substitutes only -but can leave, then return to the field, only for the Blood Rule; & after a head knock, for a concussion assessment.

    I never suggested, stated, nor believe, that “part-time athletes…produce the same level of skill as full time athletes”.

  13. BBT Torp

    As Keeper of the Conversation, I am going to jump in here and say

    1. this is not getting far – readers (like me) are unsure of your intent in pursuing things in this manner
    2. the easiest way to clear things up is to write a piece which outlines and explains your position on the many matters you have brought to our attention

    I don’t think Jackie needs to feel obligation/responsibility to spend her time responding. Especially when it seems you will never find her response satisfactory.

    I’d like to turn it around. You present your position and let readers respond. I think, given your interest and knowledge, this will stimulate a conversation more satisfactory to you, as you will have set the agenda.


    PS I have sent you a membership form. Would love you to consider joining, as Jackie has. Would love everyone to consider joining. These matters take time to convene!

  14. John Butler says

    (Stands, applauds).

    Though you North people really do need to move on. One little unfriendly leveraged takeover attempt and you just go on and on…..

  15. Jackie Lynch says

    John Butler:


    (also, thanks for reading!)

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