CROWS VS SAINTS
A 34-hour round-trip to watch approximately 70 minutes of football.
‘Are you crazy?’ is the question asked by the majority.
No, is the answer. I’m just doing what makes me smile.
So yeah, sometimes that includes overnight bus trips to Adelaide to watch the Crows AFLW team play.
‘But why?’ the majority continue to ask.
Okay, let’s backtrack for a moment to get some context on just how the 34-hour road trip over last weekend came to eventuate before I discuss the game…
Women’s footy, and more specifically, the creation of the AFLW has always been more than just sport for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the game as a whole. I’m constantly in awe of the skills I see displayed on field and the mateship displayed within and across teams.
I just love footy.
However, the love and my passion for women’s footy runs so much deeper than the actual game.
It wasn’t until the creation of the AFLW saw openly non-heterosexual women participating in the sport I’ve loved my whole life. (And yes, I knew women’s footy existed before the AFLW, but I never had any tactile experiences with it until 2017.)
Finally, I could see women who had a space and an environment where they felt comfortable to celebrate differences in sexuality, religious orientation, and body shapes.
I could finally see women like me doing what they loved.
I could see these women on-field and as I looked around at the crowds cheering them on.
I realised I had discovered a space and an environment where, for once, I didn’t have to hide who I was to protect myself.
This particular statement above in itself was huge.
It was one of those ‘watershed moments’ that I’ll never forget.
It changed my life.
I saw that I could visually present myself in a way which perfectly matched who I felt I was inside in a public space and feel safe doing so.
I understood, for the first time, there was a part of the world I allowed myself to engage in where I wasn’t going to be the only person who identified as non-heterosexual.
I wasn’t always going to be the ‘odd one out.’
For once, my sexuality didn’t matter, and I loved that.
Putting it simply, women’s footy has opened my eyes to a community where I feel like I belong.
I now have the most amazing group of friends because of women’s footy.
Not only are they all equally passionate about women’s footy, and sport in general as I am, but they truly accept me for who I am.
They love freely and without judgement.
I’ve never encountered friendships like that before. I cherish all that women’s footy has brought to my life, but the friendships I’ve formed as a part of my love for the sport can never be taken for granted. Never.
To those who I know personally who might eventually stumble across this piece –
I adore each and every single one of you. Thank you for being you and constantly accepting me. I wouldn’t be who I am today without you. Yes, it’s a rubbishy generic line, but I honestly mean it. You all constantly push me to live as authentically as possible and conquer those experiences I find challenging. You’re all incredible and am forever thankful our lives crossed paths when they did.
Will she ever get talking about the game is a question I’m sure that’s been asked by many whilst reading this. And the answer yes. Right now!
Yes, I’m a Crows fan.
Did I expect an easy win against the newcomers in the Saints? Not at all.
I managed to catch half of St. Kilda’s first game in R1, and damn – they were impressive even despite a loss.
I knew then that they’d match up well against the Crows and as supporters we needed to respect them and their presence in the game.
Just because they’re at a different point in their AFLW journey doesn’t mean they can’t compete with those who have been around longer.
The Saints brought that spirit and fight to Hisense Stadium and stunned the 6,433 strong crowd from the beginning.
The newcomers kept the 2019 Premiers scoreless in the first quarter, with Kate McCarthy scoring their only major of the quarter only moments before the first break.
Goals to former-Crow, now Saint, Jess Sedunary saw the saints with a 13-point lead early in the second quarter.
Seeing Jess back playing after missing the 2019 season through injury is pleasing to see. Selfishly, I wish she was still in the Crows tricolours, but I’m just happy she gets an opportunity to play footy with a smile on her face which she sure is as a Saint in 2020.
Irish import, and one of my personal favourites, Ailish Considine scored the Crows first goal of the day to bring the margin back to 8 points as the clock ticked past 7 minutes into the second quarter.
Goals to Saint Caitlin Greiser, and Crow Chelsea Biddell, saw the Saints take a 7-point lead into the long break.
The third quarter saw Crows speedster, Stevie-Lee Thompson add her name to the goalkickers tally early on, cutting the Saints lead back to a single point.
Crows fans had finally started to find their voice at this point. They’d been given the sniff of a possible fightback and they were running with it.
A second goal by Greiser pushed the Saints lead back to 7 points.
Although, a behind by Considine for the Crows in the later stages of the quarter saw the Saints take a 6-point lead into the final change.
Following the final change of ends, the tension was heavy. Crows fans dared to dream and Saints fans hoped for that magical first win.
An early behind by livewire Danielle Ponter spurred on the hope of Crows fans.
The cut to the Saints lead didn’t last long, with Georgia Patrikios’ behind pushing the score back out to an even goal.
First year Crow Caitlin Gould’s late quarter goal levelled scores. What happened now? The battle lines reset and the was no giving up from either side.
In the end, it was a battle of the youngsters – young Crows producing the goods in moments of need against a side playing only their second AFLW game.
Goals to Madison Newman and Eloise Jones, in addition to a rushed behind saw the Crows storm home with a 13-point lead, snatching victory from the new Saints.
Crows fans were joyous as was to be expected after what was a miraculous last quarter fightback.
Saints players and fans, obviously disappointed.
Victory was so close with scores level deep in the last.
The Crows were lucky. Whilst a W always looks good in the column when compared to an L, it rarely tells the whole story.
It certainly does not in this case. Seasoned Crows Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard again earned plenty of the ball in the midfield.
However, a lack of direction going forward at times caused problems, as did positional setups in defence.
With new faces to the line-up and the noticeable absence of stars including Chelsea Randall and Erin Phillips, there is still much work to be done for the Crows to start looking anything like the dominant team of 2019.
In summary, I’d say there were positives to be taken out of the game for both sides.
The Crows youngsters produced at the right time to help them over the line.
Whilst the Saints look hungry for success, and as though they have direction through all areas of the ground.
However, is all lost with a heartbreaking loss like that for the Saints? Absolutely not!
Saints fans, and footy fans in general should be excited about this group.
They are going places. They’re driven and have an intense passion to play for and with each other. Their success is coming, and sooner rather than later, I think.
So, there you have it.
A super long, but passionate look at the reasons behind why leaving Melbourne at 8:15 PM Saturday night with a 10-hour bus trip ahead of her, all for 70-odd minutes of footy, only to repeat the same journey that night, is seen as worth it.