At time when good news can seem in short supply the debut of the women’s AFL competition over the weekend has been such a success it even caught organisers by surprise.
A lockout crowd at Friday night’s inaugural game between arch rivals Carlton and Collingwood saw hundreds turned away from the venue.
There were also packed stands at the other three matches as more than 50,000 people attended the round one fixture, exceeding all expectations of organisers. There are already calls for bigger venues to be found to cope with the high interest level.
The eight AFL clubs who did not get first season licences are said to be ramping up their bids to be accepted sooner rather than later.
Given the level of interest seen at the weekend, AFL officials are considering playing the Grand Final at the home of football, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, on the last Saturday in March.
The football was serious and physical – just ask former Australian basketball representative and Adelaide Crows player Erin Phillips. She was lucky to keep her head on her shoulders after copping a brutal coat-hanger against the Giants.
There were some standout performers who are set to be household names. Phillips was one; her three goals proved she has quickly adapted to a different sport. Teammate Ebony Marinoff was outstanding in the midfield and Carlton forward Darcy Vescio showed her class with four goals in the opening game.
So how did the players react to their first run in a semi-professional competition which has been years in the making?
Carlton marquee player Brianna Davey spoke for many when she talked about her journey.
The 21-year-old grew up playing football but the lack of a clear pathway into seniors saw the student teacher cross to soccer and play in a championship winning W-League team prior to joining the Blues.
Before Friday night’s game Brianna’s father texted and told his daughter that she was finally playing the game she was born to play.
“The crowd, the turnout, the atmosphere was unbelievable,’’ she told the Carlton Football Club’s website.
“I think forever it (the first game) will be remembered.’’