Mary’s Wonder Women: A Giant game for GWS

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    Amanda Farrugia of the Giants leads the team out of the race.

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    “There’s a big, big sound from the west of the town. It’s the sound of the mighty Giants” – and when it comes to AFLW, that big, big sound has never been louder.

    Tonight could be one of the most significant nights in Giants history, when they play the Brisbane Lions at Blacktown International Sports Park in the last round of the season.

    Heading into this game, the Giants sit third on the ladder, with 14 points, just two points behind the two teams ranked equal first – the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons.

    With the top two teams at the end of this round progressing to next weekend’s grand final, it really is all on the line, particularly when it is mathematically still possible for five teams to make the big dance.

    But, with the Bulldogs and the Demons also facing off this weekend, the equation was put simply by new coach Alan McConnell after their upset win over the Bulldogs last weekend: “We need to win [this] week and that’s all that really matters. I know that’s a boring answer, but that’s how it is.”

    There has been plenty of hype about the opportunity this season for the GWS men’s team has to win the club’s first flag. Boasting players like Jeremy Cameron, Phil Davis, Stephen Coniglio, Dylan Shiel and Lachie Whitfeild, the squad has a mix of youth and experience, players that have been at the club for many years and those who are only beginning their careers, some that do the simple things right and others that produce the extraordinary.

    Jeremy Cameron GWS Giants AFL 2017 tall

    Jeremy Cameron of the Giants (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    The team has come close a couple of times to that historic grand final berth, but always fallen short.

    What has been lost in the pre-season narrative about the men’s team though, is that the women – after finishing at the bottom of the ladder last year – are now potentially just one win away from the club’s first grand final appearance.

    It’s been an impressive last month from the squad, who started the season 0-2 but have since beaten Collingwood, Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs, as well as drawing with the Adelaide Crows.

    Last week’s win had several stand out efforts.

    Nicola Barr was committed and ferocious in defence and spent most of the game locked in a battle with Monique Conti. That moment in the second quarter when Cora Staunton took a running mark, then sidestepped a defender and kicked a goal was just another example of how effective her transition from Gaelic Football to AFL has been. As for Erin McKinnon, she was dominant in the ruck.

    But while the squad has captured the hearts and minds on the field, they’ve shown remarkable character off the field too.

    Inspirational captain Amanda Farrugia is also a PE teacher at Our Lady of Mercy College in Parramatta, and is most passionate about motivating the next generation of women to play AFL.

    Amanda rarely shows emotion on the field, so it was special to see her celebrating in such an animated fashion when she kicked a goal last weekend in the fourth quarter to seal her side’s win.

    The coach embracing Amanda after the game was one of my favourite images circulated during this season.

    Or new recruit Pepa Randall – the woman with the stand-out mullet – who became a cult figure when she was interviewed after the game, eating a burrito which had been caught on camera. This authenticity draws fans not just to AFLW, but to women’s sport. She has now been nicknamed ‘Burrito’.

    Or Courtney Gum, who was not selected in the 2016 draft, but after going at 25th overall in last year’s draft, at 36 years old, she has been one of the club’s stand-outs – averaging 16 disposals and leading the competition in contested possessions.

    What many don’t know though, is that when she was drafted, she was looking after a newborn and living in a tent while the family home in Adelaide was being renovated. Now Courtney lives in Sydney, works three days in an aged-care-facility, raises her child, runs her own business, and stars for the Giants in her spare time.

    I haven’t even mentioned the likes of Renee Forth – a marquee signing last year who failed to play a single game due to injury – or Ellie Brush – who, at the commencement of the season, was juggling commitments with the Western Sydney Wanderers as well.

    This is a talented group of women who have come into their own just at the right point of the season and I am tipping them to continue their run with a win over the Lions tonight.

    So tonight, I encourage all AFL fans and fans of women’s sport to head to Blacktown International Sports Park to cheer on the Giants in their final home game of the year. Whatever the result, it’s been a significant improvement from the one win that the team posted last year.

    History could happen tonight and you’ll want to be there to belt out that GWS Giants’ theme song.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • March 16th 2018 @ 8:35am
      Onside said | March 16th 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      Cora Staunton is the headline GWS story Mary. She’s an absolute super star, and maybe
      the biggest story of any individual player in AFLW this season.

      In examples of Wonder Women in sport, they don’t come more credentialed than Staunton.

      I only recently read about her impressive achievements.

      • Columnist

        March 16th 2018 @ 9:10am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | March 16th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        Spot on Onside – she is a warrior!

        I can’t remember the game, but there was one where she effectively played with a broken nose. She has made such a difference to the squad and I hope she comes back next year!

      • March 16th 2018 @ 9:16am
        Perry Bridge said | March 16th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Agreed the Cora Staunton story is brushed over by way too many – she truly is an Irish legend.

        • March 16th 2018 @ 11:29am
          Aligee said | March 16th 2018 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          TBH i am quite surprised that we have not seen more Irish girls in the league, the crossover and standard would be easier to get to than the mens ATM.

          • Roar Guru

            March 16th 2018 @ 11:34am
            Cat said | March 16th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

            Season too short and not enough money to entice the ladies to move countries.

            • March 16th 2018 @ 5:21pm
              Powerboy said | March 16th 2018 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

              er…you do realise that the Gaelic football is an amateur sport, don’t you Cat?
              I would suggest that at those wages in AFLW there would be many Irish women lining up, especially when you note that there is no professional women’s league in ANY sport.
              I reckon we will see many more.
              I suggest you check out the press Cora gets back home. The whole country is following her.

              • Roar Guru

                March 17th 2018 @ 11:22am
                Cat said | March 17th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

                It may be more money than they can earn playing gaelic footy but it isn’t enough to live on for an entire year. Is it enough to leave everyone at home behind for 1/4 of the year? Maybe, but who has a job they can just leave for 4 months every year and walk back into? There will only be a very very select few who do it until the season length and money involved make worth moving to Australia full-time enticing enough to leave behind all their friends and family.

    • Roar Guru

      March 16th 2018 @ 10:04am
      Penster said | March 16th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      Fantastic article Mary. The effort & persistence these women are putting in while working full time and raising families is astonishing, and it’s great to see this heralded. There are some great stories and characters out there. Can’t get out to Blacktown tonight but confident the Giants will clock the win and challenge for the big prize.

      • Columnist

        March 16th 2018 @ 10:05am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | March 16th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        Thanks so much, Penstar! I am so pleased you have been enjoying the competition!!

    • Roar Guru

      March 16th 2018 @ 10:09am
      mds1970 said | March 16th 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      After dropping the first two games, and only kicking one goal in the thundery conditions at Drummoyne, you’d have got long odds on the Giants being where we now find them.
      It’s been a remarkable story. The rise of the likes of Courtney Gum and Cora Staunton has been great to see. And of course Pepa “Burrito” Randall; who now features as a fashion icon with the Burrito t-shirt becoming a cult feature of its own.

      It’s a great story; I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out tonight. See you at Blacktown!!
      Here Come The Giants!! !!!

      • Roar Guru

        March 16th 2018 @ 10:36am
        Penster said | March 16th 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

        Good point re odds, anyone know what the odds on GWS winning the grand final were? Drummoyne was a hair raising night, worse than GWS v Sydney a few years ago in similar conditions. Enjoy tonight, no rain, heatwave or plague predicted.

        • Roar Guru

          March 16th 2018 @ 10:44am
          mds1970 said | March 16th 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          No rain or heatwave would be an all-time first ever for AFLW in Sydney.

    • March 16th 2018 @ 6:48pm
      The Joy Of X said | March 16th 2018 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

      @ Powerboy

      There is an Irish documentary being made about Staunton.
      Apart from the AFLW, she has played Union for Ireland -and has also played soccer.

      I also believe we will be seeing many elite Gaelic footballers trying out for the AFLW.

    • March 16th 2018 @ 7:59pm
      Sam said | March 16th 2018 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

      WOW Marouli,you always come up with the goods.Another great article.Shame that you wouldn’t be able to fit ALL AFL fans into BISP,as its way too small.

    • Roar Guru

      March 16th 2018 @ 9:31pm
      mds1970 said | March 16th 2018 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

      Wasn’t our night. Shocker of a first quarter.
      But onwards and upwards to 2019. The competition is expanding; and across the country participation rates for womens footy is on the rise.
      The Giants won’t be holding up the trophy next week. But whoever does will be at the pinnacle of a growing game.

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