Swannettes go down by a point in London AFL Conference Grand Final thriller

On August 4, the Swannettes took part in an absolute thriller of a match as they went down narrowly by a point in the London AFL Women’s Conference Grand Final. While the updates on the Swannies season have lapsed in recent months – we couldn’t miss a chance to talk about what was an incredible match and who better to do it then Coach Carda. Enjoy!

london swans girls grand final
The 2018 London Swans Women’s Grand Final Team.

How good is final’s footy!

Saturday August 4 was a huge day for the London Swans as a club with the Women’s team featuring in the club’s first ever season Grand Final appearance and all 5 AFL London competition finals on the day played at our home ground, Hackney Marsh.

Needless to say it was all hands on deck early with a massive effort from men’s team volunteers to prepare the ground, set-up tents, get the post pads out, ice the beers and set-up the production line for our now London-famous Pulled-Pork burger. Most importantly, this help meant that our Women’s team were able to rest up and get ready for their big game – the showpiece of the day and the final game scheduled to start at 4pm.

While an injury delay in an earlier game meant the start time was pushed back to 4.45pm, the Swannettes arrived at the ground full of excitement and energy. A week earlier our girls had coasted through to the Grand Final with a dominating 52-nil win over the Putney Magpies, however, the opponents for this match represented a much tougher challenge – the Wandsworth Demons.

Only two weeks earlier the girls had lost a tight 13-point contest to the Demons in the final round of the season, and the previous four matches between the teams had all been decided by single figures.

The Game begins…

From the outset, the Demons looked to impose their physical game style and take advantage of the wind advantage in their favour in the first quarter. Our Swannettes didn’t shy away from the contest though and this was typified by Vice-Captain Brianna getting plenty of the ball around the packs and recovering from a heavy collision early on.

Despite the wind, the Swannettes were able to use their superior team work to keep winning the ball and repelling it forward but were unfortunately unable to convert their opportunities. Wandsworth capitalised towards the end of the quarter by kicking what would prove to be their only goal for the game leaving the score 1.2.8 to 0.0.0 at the first break.

The message at quarter time was, “we’re in the contest, now it’s our turn to run and carry”. Finals football really is a different beast and despite having the wind the Swannettes were unable to impose our style of play on the game – e.g. the quick spread, run and carry. Our opponents, the Demons, worked hard and to their credit maintained an impressive defensive pressure while also managing to post what would go on to become an important point.

One half left for the season, all or nothing…

Our girls worked extremely hard to make the Grand Final and despite not scoring with the wind their work and determination was not going to waiver. The Swannettes dominated the third quarter against the wind with majority of the quarter played in the attacking half and on multiple occasions just one more kick or a lucky bounce was required to see as hit the scoreboard.

Regardless, the tide was turning and the girls point of difference against the other teams, their fitness and stamina, was beginning to show. Three-Quarter time: Swans 0.0.0 to Wandsworth 1.3.9.

Confidence coming in to our last huddle for the year was high. The girls could feel things turning and with the game still tight and in the balance, we knew as a collective group that it was there for the taking.

The script for the start of the quarter could not of been written better, even with a loose defensive player in our forward line we were able to score a Swans like goal using our run and carry off half-back. Importantly it also meant there was 7 minutes (plenty of time) left.

The excitement and nervous energy for the remainder of the quarter was palpable. It was finals football at its best. Our girls locked the football in our forward half for the large majority of the rest of the quarter – piling relentess pressure on the Demon’s defence.

Unfortunately, however, a second goal proved elusive and we were left 1-point adrift when the final whistle sounded.

“I couldn’t have been prouder of this group”… a reflection on the year

At the beginning of the day I told the girls, making the Grand Final was an amazing achievement but the most important thing was to make sure that at the end of the game we knew we’d given it our all. When that final whistle went, regardless of the scoreline, I couldn’t have been prouder of this group.

While nothing could hide the disappointment in the girls faces, they were incredibly gracious in defeat and what really shone through was the fact that their team camaraderie was more important to them all than the result.

They gave it their best shot, put everything on the table and that’s all you can ask for as a coach. Last year it was a tense and tight three point loss to Wandsworth in the preliminary final, this year it was a lasting one-point nail biter, the platform is now set to go one step and two-points better in 2019.

To everyone who has been involved with the women’s team this year – Coach Mayo, Coach Jesse and all the boys who passed on their words of wisdom throughout the year at training, friends and family who came and supported during the year – thank you.

I’m sure you’ll agree this group of strong, independent women have continued to build on the foundation blocks the inaugural season last year, representing everything the London Swans stand for.

Sheppards, tackles, beers

Coach Carda. xoxo

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