Effort, spirit and a determination to just play footy were all key elements that guided the Wallsend-West Newcastle Swans to their first competitive points in the Black Diamond AFL Womens.
According to club coach Darren Bird, their nail-biting 3.1.19 to 2.6.18 win over The Entrance Bateau Bay took a “fair bit of guts and courage” too.
“That last five minutes [of the match] might have aged me about ten years, but it was so good to see them get one after everything, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” he said.
“We had a bit of control early but it was really close in the end, and it took a fair bit of guts and courage from all the girls to just keep going and get the win. You could see how much it meant to them all.”
Wallsend-West Newcastle were one of the newest clubs in the expanded sixteen team format for the womens league in 2018, and outside of games against Newcastle City and Gosford, the squad had been playing scratch matches due to a flagging player count.
After only six players were available for the club’s match against Terrigal Avoca, Bird began asking around, and two women from Port Stephens – Mel Nelson and Karen Lonergan – joined to boost the team’s count to the legal number.
From there, the team were hungry for four competition points.
New recruit Nelson kicked the club’s first goal in the opening quarter, and she was joined in the historic haul by Megan Farquhar and Lauren Gruber, with the three majors eventually enough to secure the win.
“It’s just amazing seeing these women play week in and week out, and considering only three of our squad have actually played AFL before it’s incredible,” Bird said.
“Their tenacity, and their willingness to play for each other and see this chance to get their first win, it meant so much to all of us. I’ve asked them to stick with it over the course of the season and to have faith in themselves and the club, and they’ve paid that back after a lot of the disheartening setbacks early on.”
The win was also crucial, Bird explained, due to Lisa Morales’ swan-song with the squad – the team’s number 2 returns to France in the near future, and the club coach was pleased the team could “send her off with a bang”.
Elsewhere, the Newcastle City Stars continued their unbeaten run, eventually downing a strong Maitland outfit 12.6.78 to 6.5.41.
It was a close contest throughout however, and only five goals in one quarter for the Stars secured them the 37-point victory.
The Saints cut a 24-point deficit in half in the third quarter, and threatened to spill over the home side, but the Stars rallied late to extend their lead to the final result.
Also at No.1 Sportsground, the Novas kept their hold on third with a 8.9.57 to 2.0.12 win over Gosford, sparked by Kate Handley’s hat-trick. The result dropped the Tigers into the mid-table pack.
The City squad will be glad for their 45-point win after Killarney Vale also scored a win, beating Singleton 10.15.75 to 0.1.1 at Rose Point Park to remain in fourth. Brooke Hulley-Peachey kicked four for the Bombers.
Wyong Lakes are just four points behind a top four spot as well, after cutting short Cardiff’s four-game win streak.
The Magpies and Hawks played out a cagey first half at Hillsborough Oval, with goals from Ellen Anderson (Cardiff) and Aleece Williams (Wyong Lakes) the only two majors of the opening two stanzas.
Goals for Aimee Bohan, Abby Pearce and a double for Alexandra Pearce in the second half secured the Pies the victory, while the Hawks scored one more in the third through Minerva Bailey.
At Tulkaba Park, Terrigal Avoca recorded their third win of the year with a 9.6.60 to 5.6.30 win over Lake Macquarie.
The Panthers’ Bronte Korsch was best on field, slotting four majors for the victorious squad.
Finally, Nelson Bay remain top of the standings after a 21.18.144 to 0.0.0 over Muswellbrook, off the back of seven for Molly Simpson, five for Kaitlyn Douglass and four for Kate Holland, while Warners Bay moved into the mix at 24 points after a 152-point victory over Port Stephens.
NOTE: Wallsend-West Newcastle Swans are still looking for new recruits for the squad. If you are interested in playing in the Black Diamond AFL Womens, call Darren Bird on 0404839317.
TABLE: Nelson Bay, Stars (40), Novas, Killarney Vale (32), Wyong Lakes (28), Gosford, Maitland, Singleton, Warners Bay (24), Cardiff (16), Terrigal Avoca, Muswellbrook (12), Port Stephens, The Entrance Bateau Bay, Wallsend-West Newcastle (4), Lake Macquarie (0).