home AFLW, Aussie Rules My Favourite Sporting Moment: Why this one’s different

My Favourite Sporting Moment: Why this one’s different

There are countless sporting moments that stand out as significant, as important, as a favourite. What is mine? A landmark day in the 2019 season.

My Favourite Sporting Moment. Chloe Scheer and Chelsea Randall celebrate their victory with the AFLW Premiership Cup. Image: Megan Brewer
Chloe Scheer and Chelsea Randall celebrate their victory with the AFLW Premiership Cup.
Image: Megan Brewer

There have been a lot of sporting moments—more specifically, footy moments—that I recall very fondly. I’ve seen my men’s footy team win two backs-against-the-wall premierships. I gasped when something I never expected to see—a national elite women’s footy competition—was announced. I boasted when my Melbourne Demons signed the incomparable Daisy Pearce. The list is long and anyone who knows me is no doubt used to me making tenuous links from the conversation at hand to my favourite footy moments.

But this one’s different. This one elicits an emotional response—something incredibly rare for me, a person who proudly calls herself a robot due to an intense focus on rationality and practicality.

It doesn’t even involve my team! It was a blowout! It goes against everything we’re told a great game should be! But the 2019 AFLW grand final between the Adelaide Crows and Carlton Blues is my favourite sporting moment.

It followed a controversial finals series—the first to work within the criticised conference system—and this frustrated Melbourne supporter spent a fortnight commenting on Geelong and Carlton’s finals qualification to anyone who would listen. While Carlton made me eat my words with their impressive preliminary final win over the highly favoured Dockers, the Cats unfortunately put up less of a fight against the Crows.

My Favourite Sporting Moment. Brianna Davey battles it out in her last game in the navy blue. Image: Megan Brewer
Brianna Davey battles it out in her last game in the navy blue. Image: Megan Brewer

In the leadup to the big game my outlook was as it usually is when it comes to footy. What were the key match ups going to be? How do the Blues minimise Erin Phillips’ impact? Can Jess Foley continue her outstanding debut season in a position she was thrown into due to Rhiannon Metcalfe’s knee injury?

Practical. Analytical.

As I watched the pre-game broadcast, however, something remarkable forced all of this far from my mind.

For their dominance throughout the season, Adelaide had earned a home final at Adelaide Oval. It’s a ground with a capacity of 53,500 but just one large section of the stadium had been opened for the predicted 25,000 attendees. It soon became clear that more space was desperately needed and section by section the whole stadium was opened to the growing crowd.

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The game begins with a roar. My mind flicks back to it’s normal mode. Brianna Davey and Madison Prespakis are taking it to Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff in the midfield. Chloe Scheer is a star in the making. Erin Phillips is a class above.

The first quarter is tight, but after that the Crows take full control. They’re playing fun footy and have a stacked forward line that Carlton’s defence—having recently lost Kate Gillespie-Jones and Danielle Hardiman to expansion—just cannot contain. It’s not tight anymore.

Then there’s a 60 second period that perfectly encapsulates this match.

Chloe Scheer, one of the most exciting young players in the competition takes a hanger over Kerryn Harrington at the top of the Crows’ forward 50, turns on a dime and hits up Danielle Ponter who runs into an open goal. Then as the Crows enter their forward 50 immediately out of the next midfield stoppage, Scheer goes to ground and her face says it all. ACL.

Not long after this, the soon-to-be two time grand final best on ground Erin Phillips hits the ground in tears. The packed stadium goes quiet and the stretcher is driven out. The Crows’ co-captain sits up as she’s carted from the ground and players in both guernseys pass by to wish her well.

My Favourite Sporting Moment. The Adelaide Oval scoreboard announces the record-breaking attendance of 53,034. Image: Megan Brewer
The Adelaide Oval scoreboard announces the record-breaking attendance of 53,034. Image: Megan Brewer

In a game full of big moments, it was another, however, that made my breath catch. It was seeing five huge, coral numbers appear on the Adelaide Oval scoreboard.

53,034.

The largest attendance for a standalone women’s sporting event in Australia at the time—the third time in as many years that the AFLW broke this record.

53,034 people from around the country trekked to South Australia to watch 42 women play the game I love so much.

53,034 people watched on as Chloe Scheer, Danielle Ponter and Eloise Jones announced themselves.

My Favourite Sporting Moment. Chloe Scheer in action with a packed crowd behind her. Image: Megan Brewer
Chloe Scheer in action with a packed crowd behind her. Image: Megan Brewer

53,034 people saw Erin Phillips go to ground and wondered if they’d just seen her last game.

53,034 people were there for Brianna Davey’s final match in the navy blue.

53,034 people witnessed the Adelaide Crows become the first ever AFLW team to win multiple premierships.

53,034 is a number I’ll never need to look up or double check. It’s burned into my brain.

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