Melbourne Demons 4.13. 37
Western Bulldogs 4.5. 29
AFL has always been leagues ahead of their fellow footy codes down under, and today was no different with an excellent Women’s AFL exhibition match played at the MCG between Demons and Bulldogs.
I sat in a row of AFL-playing women (most now retired) and our criticisms of both teams were few. Demons had better skills – making them deserving of the win – while Bulldogs played rough and tough, perhaps reminiscent of their Footscray upbringing. Bulldog tackles were definitely up a notch.
We’d like to have seen more shepherding happening as well as more movement through the middle. The game spent a lot of time going down and around the side; when we all know the quickest way to the goals is through the middle. They’d also benefit from some harder running through the middle. In the final quarter when intensity stepped up a notch thanks to a close scoreboard, Dees made an excellent break out of their goal line but it died off in the middle because their forwards weren’t ready or in position.
Best on ground went to Kara Donnellan of the Demons for 23 disposals. I’d give my top picks to Kira Phillips, who kicked 1.3 with an outstanding hooking, right foot goal in the final quarter that was a genuine ripper, and Moanna Hope from the Bulldogs who kicked 2.2 herself.
I’m late to every game I see at the MCG and today was no different – except this time I literally ran the whole way from home to the oval because I didn’t want to miss seeing women playing our nation’s sport out on the famous green grass. I’ve never done that for any other game in my life, but I didn’t want to miss this. There was a political statement to be made about this game.
But when I got there, the atmosphere felt decidedly un-political. Was I there to make a feminist statement that I want to see more women’s sport at the MCG? Or was I there because I just wanted some good afternoon football? Probably a bit of both. It’s a good thing it didn’t feel political too: the more women’s games we have at the G; the more it will become a normal part of our footy culture.
Apparently women’s AFL is going off like a frog in a sock, and the netball league is starting to get nervous. So they should, netball is shit. While we’ve still got a long way to go to equal our male counterparts in money, status and TV deals, an afternoon’s game at the G gets us a step closer.