A bit of a quick one. We touch on the WSL match in the North West, the title decider in Launceston and finish it off with a story time.
I would love to argue about how Sundays for women’s football requires blocking out an all weather pitch for the 2-2.30pm time slot as a permanent back up. But let’s leave that broken record to dust off the shelf another day.
In the North West, Ulverstone came out with a high risk, high reward tactic against Olympia. High press and a high line. On their day, perhaps with the addition of a more prolific forward, Ulverstone could’ve dominated their opponents. Unfortunately for the Reds, it unravelled with the pace of the Warriors front line just too much to handle, despite one Assistant Referee waving his flag at the wrong times.
I get it, refereeing is a tough gig, but please can the Women’s State League competition have referees who can keep up with play? That’s all I ask. Fit referees, preferably ones who keep up with the last defender, who watches the line as the pass is played, rather than the delayed reaction to deny fast and clever forwards.
Otherwise it was a Bonnie Davies show and everything else was purely the side entertainment. Moments of precision and composure were occasionally marred by wasteful chances, however who can argue with 5 goals in one sitting? A nod of appreciation to the Warriors midfield for playing the early ball is also well deserved.
A within-the-speed-limit dash back down the highway and I arrived at the top of the ladder clash between Launceston United and Devonport Strikers. Soon upon parking up, I stand at the gate to suss things out, aware play would’ve just resumed for the second half. United are on the counter and with a woosh, a pearl of a goal welcomes me to Birch Ave with jubilant celebrations from the watching home crowd.
I soon clocked some key Strikers were unavailable for the affair, but was surprised to learn from the substitutes warming up that the scoreline had blown out to 4-nil to United’s favour. Some of the surprise etched from the Strikers having most of the territory following the 4th goal. But this perhaps dampened the sting Devonport usually possess from the counter.
Instead, the tables turned and United worked the counter beautifully, often putting their opponents on the back foot. The fifth goal was a result of finding the gap in behind and beating a goalkeeper well off her line. The result was a goal that the scorer didn’t even need to watch into the net, because there was no way it wasn’t.
Ok some story time.
My first season covering the WSL was the one Ulverstone won. In fact one of my very first matches was Ulverstone v Clarence, where I was convinced Ulvie would be title contenders, despite my then limited knowledge of the competition.
After that point, the North West outfit went on undefeated to win the title. I definitely should’ve thrown some money on that one. Due to their dominance and the extra Northern fixtures that season, I didn’t cover many of their other games for the remainder of the year.
Anyway, at the end of the season I’d snagged a seat to attend the end of year presentation. Let me tell you, soccer players out of their numbered jerseys and dressed up makes it extremely difficult to tell who is who. I mean heck, even with numbered jerseys and usual positions I am armed with a team sheet.
But it was there that I had an Ulverstone player come up to me and say what I roughly remember as “Hey! Thanks so much for covering women’s soccer and us”. I was taken aback, I’d hardly covered their team at that point. On the spot I couldn’t even recognise who it was thanking me. I can’t remember if I asked who it was or if a couple of the other girls I did know told me, but I learnt it was Melanie Smith. A player who had “been there, done that”, having played “forever”.
These compliments and thanks are a career highlight for me. Writing football can be arduous, particularly live blogging and match reports every weekend through winter. But being told by players that they appreciate it does make it all the time worthwhile.
Seeing the Devonport Strikers captain on the pitch, on a team that lost 5-nil, and it’s bitter sweet. I largely consider myself fortunate that Melanie was on my side of the ground, so I could take some shots of her despite the dimming light.