Hampton Rovers had the honour of hosting the first ever official VAFA Women’s game on Friday evening and what a sensational night it was at Boss James Reserve.
Conditions were perfect and a big crowd was on hand to witness the historic first match between traditional district clubs Hampton Rovers and Ormond. While it wasn’t the result the Rovers were after on the field, the real winner was women’s footy as Australia’s largest women’s footy competition kicked-off.
The night started with a pre-game function inside the Wright-Scarlett Pavilion. Over 100 people were in attendance including representation from the VAFA hierarchy, Ormond Football Club and Western Bulldogs AFLW player Lauren Morecroft who spoke to the crowd. Shona MacInnes from the VAFA also addressed the crowd, talking about the growth of women’s footy and the fact the VAFA is now the largest women’s competition with 40 teams and 1300 players in its inaugural year.
The two teams were presented to the crowd and soon after, they ran out onto Boss James Reserve which is in immaculate condition. They lined up as the national anthem was played and it was then game on under the bright lights. The crowd and atmosphere was incredible – one of the bigger crowds seen at Boss James Reserve. It was also the first time the new LED scoreboard had been in use and it looked brilliant in the south-east corner of the Boss.
The euphoria didn’t last long! At the first break, the Rovers girls were a couple of goals down and struggling to put the score on the board. The Monders were more skilful, clearly better kicks and marks but with less desire than the enthusiastic Rovers. Ormond at one stage seemed to be a one woman team, and that player had kicked all of their goals. With an 18 point lead at half time, Hampton were under pressure. Clearly the coach’s exultations at the main break had effect and our second half effort was a great improvement. While we didn’t bridge the gap, we stopped the Ormond run and flow and, but for some spilled marks and sloppy kicking from close range, we could have been much closer at the final siren. For many of the girls, it was their first ever game and for all of them, their first game under lights - undoubtedly they’ll improve as the season progresses.
There were many good players for the Rovers. Maxy Behnke was clearly our best. A great game on the ball where she never gave up all night. Kristy Ebbott, sporting a swollen jaw after the game, was in and under all night and probably featured in the play of the day in the 3rd where she baulked 3 opponents, swung onto her left and kicked truly from 35m. Zara Phillips at CHB put in a great game, her coolness under pressure, and efforts to get the footy were a feature all night. Sonja Mihelyi chose the clubhouse flank to cause a little bit of havoc. Three big tackles in a row (the last a beauty) was rewarded with a free kick much to the delight of the Rover faithful! Jess Yates, Liz Dingledei, Nicky Clarke were consistent players all night and had the better of their opponents.
After the game, the rooms were packed as all players from both teams plus a huge contingent of supporters recognised the efforts of the girls as the Buxton Cup went to Ormond for the first time for a number of years.
HAMPTON ROVERS 0.1 1.2 1.2 2.5 (17)
ORMOND 2.2 4.2 5.4 6.4 (40)
Goal Kickers: K. Ebbott, J. Yates
Best Players: M. Behnke
Next up, the Rovers take on St Mary’s Salesian Friday 21st April 7pm at Sportscover Arena and then Sunday 30th April v Old Mentonians at Keysborough. This closes out the three grading rounds – the make-up of the divisions and fixture for remaining 12 rounds will then be announced.
View more photos from the night on Facebook >