Melbourne Win Historic Game

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Kiara Bowers was playing her second match on the MCG but this time it meant 100 times more to her. She was playing for her beloved Dees. Bowers has been an avid fan of the Melbourne FC since a child and running onto the MCG wearing the blue and red was a dream she never thought possible.

‘Turbo’ as she is named by teammates, proved the most under rated player of the game. Coach Michelle Cowan asked her to play on Western Bulldogs danger player Stephanie Chiocci. Lightening quick and a stand out for her blistering pace and high work ethic at the recent National Women’s Championships in Cairns, shutting Chiocci down was never going to be easy. It proved a welcome challenge for Bowers who thrived on the task. Bowers work proved a match winner as Chiocci found it difficult to find space and was unable to provide her trademark runs into the forward line.

This inaugural encounter between MFC and WBFC women started with excited but nervous players who were pumped to represent their clubs as well as the thrill of playing on the ‘hallowed turf’. Young star, Ellie Blackburn, opened proceedings in typical power running style with the first goal for MFC. The crowd of over 2000 who poured into the G early to support the teams erupted with delight. It was fitting that the AFL’s first female Grand Final goal umpire,
Chelsea Roffey should be waving the flags for that first historic goal.

Blackburn’s goal was followed quickly by a Western Bulldogs response through bustling play from livewire Kira Phillips. Scores were a point the difference at quarter time.

The Dees entered the second term full of run. Where the Doggies didn’t hit targets, the Melbourne girls were precise and had plenty of options to goal. Melbourne’s Daisy Pearce, #1 Draft pick and captain was commanding the midfield with great support from Kirby Bentley. 

Chelsea Randall was in exhilarating form in her forward line taking numerous spectacular grabs and scoring the first goal of the quarter despite close attention from Nicola Stevens. Veteran Steph Walding read the ball superbly off hands to score the Dee’s next six pointer. That was followed by a brilliant snap from Alicia Eva who grabbed the ball from a stoppage slotting the next for the Dees. The celebration that followed was particularly poignant given Eva is a Dees member and has been a fan since three years of age.

Caught up in the emotion, Youth Girl, Alex Price, was jubilant when she applied a brutal tackle to cause a turnover and bang the Dees fourth for the quarter.

Chiocci broke the Bowers shackles through a characteristic blinding run deep in her forward pocket to slot a difficult shot through for the Dogs’ second goal. The rest of the quarter proved a struggle between the 50 arcs with solid defence displayed by both sides. Leah Kaslar and Courtney Gum continually drove the ball back from the Doggies forward 50 while at the other end, Nicola Stevens and Courtney Cramey were getting on top of their forwards.

Stevens in particular was able to dampen the brilliance of Randall in this term as she had been mercurial in the first half. By the third quarter over 7500 patrons were thrilling to the women’s game.

Debbie Lee Medallist from the Women’s Nationals, Courtney Gum thrived being in such a skilled team. She showed why she won the Fairest and Best being the one of two goal scorers for the Dees in the third term while repelling many attacks with timely contested marks.

The Doggies could only find two points despite the ruck work at stoppages by Aasta O’Connor to nullify the Dees’ Lou Wotton. Captain O’Connor tried hard to get her team going and her tussle with Wotton was entertaining.

The tempo went up in the fourth when players realised this was it!

Hardworking Katie Loynes continued to provide an avenue from the centre to her Doggies forwards but when Katie Brennan, who had been well held, sustained a finger injury, it was always going to prove a tough task. 

The lively Phillips popped her second goal through after an effort that started on her wing. She won the ball in a close contest before bouncing the ball several times towards goal. The Dees corralled her but she was up for the challenge and fought back to break free and smack a third major through for the Scrays.

When Wotton soccered the ball in the square truly she celebrated with passion. A Dees member Wotton requested Jim Stynes’ number given she too is a ruck and was a huge fan of Stynes. Goal scoring sensation, Jasmine Garner hadn’t touched the ball much by her standards and was still scoreless up until the nine and a half minute mark of the fourth term. At that point she took a fine grab and kicked accurately for the Dees eighth goal.

Women’s football received a huge boost from this game. The mainstream media’s promotion of it was the most comprehensive of any thus far in the game’s history. The ability of MFC and WBFC to totally immerse the players in their club culture was quite special. 

To be able to showcase these talented footballers, coaches and umpires more often is now the goal and televising matches is the ultimate objective. Given that over 8000 spectators came to watch the game should be compelling enough for the various stations to realise women’s footy is viable entertainment that people want to view.

FINAL SCORES:

MFC:           1.1    5.1    6.4    8.5 (53)

WBFC:        1.0    1.2    2.3    3.3 (21)


GOALS

MFC: Randall, Blackburn, Price, Wotton, Gum, Garner, Eva, White 

WBFC: Phillips 2, Chiocci


BEST 

MFC: Pearce, Randall, Bentley, Blackburn, Wotton, Kaslar, Gum, Bowers

WBFC: Loynes, Phillips, Brennan, Karen Paxman, Cramey

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