Australian Rules Football season is on us and the men’s teams are battling it out each week to be top dogs in our national sport. To go and watch a game at its highest level is an exhilarating outing, even if you are not entirely sure of the rules (who is?) the spectacle of colour, noise and passion is something to behold. I’m not a fan of crowds but the stadiums the games are held in aren’t too bad for getting crowds in and out without too much fuss.
The Adelaide oval is something I would recommend any visitor to Adelaide should see at any time but a football match does have an extra gladiatorial vibe about it. Making the trek across the bridge over the Torrens River is part of the process and gives you the chance to see other city sights along the banks of the river including the Festival Theatre, the paddle boats and ‘Popeye’ on the Torrens.
This year I had the pleasure of watching a couple of the women’s AFL games at the Adelaide Oval. The skills are every bit as impressive as their male counterparts and the crowds just as passionate for their teams. You never know who you might get to share the experience with too. We were lucky to have the very obliging Keith Conlon OAM share a photo with us. Keith was the presenter of a television show ‘Postcards’ for more than 15 years, promoting holiday spots in South Australia, so naturally I’m a fan. His knowledge and love of the state saw him given the tag of ‘Mr South Australia’ by locals, such is the respect for him.
And so to the rest of the atmosphere at the oval, it is a spine tingling experience and it feels quite exciting to be at the beginnings of a shift in sport. The women’s league of the AFL has only been going for 3 seasons now but each year the following and interest grows and it’s having a ripple effect of increasing the involvement by girls and women in grass roots football. I’m a very proud supporter of my own daughter who was a member of a local inaugural women’s team last year and is going for another season again this year.
The professional women’s AFL matches that I went to see were the final and Grand Final. The Grand Final was an uplifting day to say the least and before the match the crowd was entertained by Amy Shark, an Aussie artist who sang three of her most popular songs to rev up the crowd. I particularly like the fact that Amy took part in the pre-game entertainment after reading ugly remarks made after the ‘amazing photo’ of football player Tayla Harris received. (That’s a whole story to look up in its own right). It made her want to support the game even more. Here, here.
The day had a party atmosphere about it and the predicted crowd of 20,000 soon swelled to over 53,000! A record number of spectators for any women’s sport in Australia. The two teams battling it out for the premiership cup were the Adelaide Crows and Carlton, with Tayla Harris one of the team.
It was an incredible spectacle of skills and gutsy play by these champion women, everyone in the crowd no matter what age or gender were absolutely enthralled for the entire game. I’m happy to say the victors were Adelaide but sadly not without knee injuries to two players. Nothing hurts when you are winners though I’m guessing. I have to apologise for the very ordinary photos in the blog but unfortunately they were only taken on a phone (no cameras allowed in Adelaide Oval), but I will leave the last word to the Adelaide daily newspaper, The Advertiser cartoonist Valdman. Women’s football…take that.