My mission in Hobart was to fit in as much football as possible. My mission was fulfilled. From chatting away my Saturday morning in the stands at Darcy Street, watching a thrilling contest at Warrior Park on both Saturday and Sunday and the icing on the cake – a freezing reminder of winter footy at Wentworth park to round things up.
I’m going to begin this with the fun and positive from this weekend. There’s been a strange lack of serious contenders for best one on one battles, this match provided two.
The pace of Maddi Chambers up against the equally fast Megan Gaffney on the flank. While centrally it was a mental battle field, with Lucy Reimer showing no mercy to the usually free reigning Bonnie Davies.
Chambers can often find a way out of sticky situations with pace. Any head start is usually a deadset killer for her opponents. It was different this weekend. Gaffney went toe to toe with the Warrior. The right back showed maturity beyond her years by picking the right moment to stick a foot in but importantly always showing Chambers the line. Whenever the ball touched that flank it was delightful. Both pedal to the metal. The duel moved well into the second half until Chambers was subbed out, still carrying the left-overs of an injury.
For Ulverstone, moving Lucy Reimer into centre back is a stroke of genius. I said it last weekend, but Saturday sealed this. Cool, calm and collected when dealing with Bonnie Davies, who was hungry to hit the scoreboard. It’s rare to see someone truly trouble Davies, but the move to number nine might open up the possibility of more encounters like this with experienced centre backs. Provided no space on the ball, Reimer had her number and kept ringing it through the first half.
The second half saw things click for Davies, who switched out to try her luck on a different centre back in Emily Nellis and substitute Georgia Burley. But the true moments of brilliance was Reimer’s ability to still read the play and throw a spanner in the works for Davies for lengths of the match. Olympia’s forward still found the back of the net. But it was fun to see her work for it.
Marking my return to Hobart for the first footy weekend of the regular season, the theme wound up seeping onto the pitch. Quite honestly, it was a throw back to 2018 that I didn’t realise I even wanted.
Olympia welcomed the return of Caitlin Roberts. The defender-moved-midfielder who is back home due to the unfolding crisis in Victoria. While the surprise package for Ulverstone was the addition of Georgia Burley. The defender admitted to not touching a ball since University’s WSL relegation match in 2018.
Both had cameos in the second half. The Warrior sitting deep in midfield and trying to rediscover her first touch, while shielding her defence with confidence. The Red laying deep as a centre back against someone of the fastest forwards in the game, almost executing a personal clean sheet bar a hand ball in the box to give a penalty in the dying seconds. (Was it leg then hand, or hand then leg, who knows).
It’s to my pure delight to have these players return to the park. Even if it happens to be fleeting with university, work and life often drifts players away from our shores.
Rockets in the Southern Champs
Taroona are a club I hold close to my heart. In another 2018 flashback, their most recent Women’s Super League season was my first on the job, with so many of their players embracing me immediately. I felt at home surrounded by the Taroona faithful in the stands of KGV in the butt end of winter freezing during mid-week catch up matches. A quick look at the Southern Championships fixtures locked in my decision to pay them a visit, as the Pirates battled at Warrior Park on Sunday.
There’s plenty of positive signs for Taroona, further supporting my continued battle cry that the seaside club must return swiftly in an expanded WSL competition.
“A mix” is the best describer. A mix of ages and experiences, along with style, it was well worth popping in for an hour to observe. There was plenty of give and go, along with players daring enough to run with the ball to take on an opponent.
The philosophy of shoot once in range lives on well at this club. With the clear highlight going to two roaring rockets by a left winger who goes by the name Carla. On the edge of the box, the first fired past a stunned goalkeeper. Soon after, someone must have hit replayed as an action replay happened.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Honestly I’m struggling to find a club who doesn’t have players suffering from soft tissue injuries. There are far too many so early into the season. Of course there’s a strong argument suggesting we should be grateful to have the season. However, has enough been done to protect players and actually provide a proper, full and healthy season?
Ordinarily teams train from January to late March before the season kicks off. There are some pre-season friendlies, along with a Cup competition, but things are eased with training building up to proper full contact 90-minute matches essential in pre-season.
The Coronavirus break coming in right at the end of this preparation and forcing teams to go back to scratch was a worry. However none of the women’s competitions in Tasmania have considered this. Beginning the season soon after the easing of restrictions, as if the pause button was pressed isn’t good enough. Add in the high intensity of a Statewide Cup round kicking things off to then move directly to the regular season, it spells injuries.
Players are hurt because of it. Too many injuries have piled up and it’s not even a month in.
We need to ask whether it is necessary to have 15 rounds. A reduced season that could still provide a full home and away season would have allowed teams a full preparation within the space of eased restrictions and full teams able to train together. Instead the extra rounds chucked is salt to the wounds, it’s already seeing teams resort to playing women who are knowingly carrying an injury.
If you want my thoughts on the Clarence Zebras v Kingborough Lions match, head on over to Slice of Cheese. It’ll pop up there at some point soon. The main thing you should know is the last goal may have been for the losing team, but it was top-bins by an unlikely source in Christabelle Moore. But with efforts like that, I seriously hope she’s beginning to tell everyone in training she’s taking Laura Davies spot at number 9 next weekend.
No honestly, I could dissect that match more than I have here. The starting XI’s chopped and changed for both sides. Some rev was needed and only found in a small patch for the Zebras, despite the heady 5-1 victory. While the Lions defence scrambled like a good egg scramble at breakfast. A late spark could have been introduced earlier for the away team, but the result was close to sealed from the 2nd minute scored penalty and the experience of the Clarence centre backs to handle Laura Davis on the counter.
And all importantly. Wentworth Park won the canteen award. Fresh chips and gravy trumping a snag at Darcy Street in style.