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Soup of This Day #271: But You Were One Of Us

December 3, 2012

Perth Glory Women
Perth Glory Women, in their home purple with white stripes, get set to defend a hopeful punt up-field from the Western Sydney Wanderers. At far left is Glory centre-back and Canadian international Sasha Andrews – She was a rampart on which most such attacks were dashed – Photo: Longworth72, 2012. Image cropped by Longworth72 and released into the public domain.

The other day The Noah declared that girls don’t play football because it’s a boy’s game.

This got my attention for a couple of reasons.

1st off and girls can actually play a lot of sports that boys do and they do so with just as much style and skill. Except in the unofficial sport of aiming for those yellow deodorising cakes in the urinals. We kick gender-specific arse at that.

2nd, and we here at Longworth72 believe that girls are discriminated against in so many ways. Sometimes it might seem like that discrimination is a small deal – Sport isn’t the most important thing in life – But all of those small things can lead to the bigger stuff – If a girl’s not tough enough to hold her own on the football field then she’s probably not gonna survive in the field of politics.

Which is total bull@#$% but that’s how it goes.

So sport seems like a starting point for redressing the imbalance and blanking the bs. Sure, men are from Mars and women are from Venus (their planet is bigger but has a runaway greenhouse effect with a sulphuric acid atmosphere thing going on) but really the differences aren’t that great and can be cut down to a few simple truths:

a. Women just don’t seem to be mentally set up to think that aiming your urine at a small disk of deodorising cake is a cool thing to do. They sure as hell don’t understand any trick shot variations.

And b. Something, something, reproductive gear, something else, but let’s not mention vaginas.

So yes, girls can play football and to prove it, The Noah, Brother of Longworth72 and yours truly, Longworth72, set off to watch Perth Glory Women play a W-League match against the Western Sydney Wanderers. This was a momentous field-trip – Brother of Longworth72 and Longworth72 have been to a few games of football in their time, both as spectators and players. We have however not been for some time and we’ve never been to a W-League match, so it wasn’t just The Noah who was getting some education dropped on him.

The game was at Intiga Stadium in Inglewood. It’s a nice suburban ground, with a decent shaded grandstand offering a view of the whole pitch. The place can hold a couple of thousand maybe at a pinch but on this bright and early-summer afternoon there was perhaps 400 fairly relaxed fans in attendance with plenty of room to find good seats and space to stretch out a bit. There was a decent breeze, what Western Australians call the Fremantle Doctor, and this day the good doctor had not warmed up his hands so there was a slight chill factor happening in the shade.

Maybe because of that stiff sou’wester the Glory were nervy early and Wanderers almost poached a goal in the 1st couple of minutes. The purple-clad back line though had the advantage of height and a confident keeper and after repelling the initial attacks, momentum began to switch back in Perth’s favour. There were a couple of half-chances before a touch of fortune allowed the home side to capitalise on their growing dominance. Marianna Tabain, playing as a left winger curled a low cross into the area that striker Kate Gill made a run at. Gill failed to make contact with the skidding ball, but her run unsighted Wanderers stopper Thora Helgadottir and the ball was allowed to nestle into the bottom left of the goal for the opener.

From there it was mostly the Glory doing the running. They launched a series of pressing raids, deploying a lively front 4 with captain Collette McCallum and fellow midfielder Aivi Luik filling the hole behind them. McCallum in particular bossed the centre-forward’s space and it was a ball of serious quality from her that made a 2nd goal. Driving forward she measured a sublime through ball that sliced through the Wanderers back line on the angle, finding Rosie Sutton charging down the right. Sutton’s cut-back found Katie Gill and although the lanky striker had been profligate to then, spurning a number of good opportunities, she could hardly miss from all of 2 yards out. It was a sensational team goal and a real indicator of the difference between the 2 outfits at that time.

That should have been the catalyst for a Glory onslaught – A 3rd goal would not have been undeserved and would surely have shut the gate before half-time. And they tried for it – For a bit anyway. Gill missed a couple of headed chances and Luik skidded 1 off the base of the right upright but for all that the Glory could not add to their score before the interval. Instead they started to look a little tired and the Wanderers pressed, looking for something to make a case for a revival in the 2nd stanza when they’d have that breeze at their backs. This was a dangerous time for Perth – So often you see a team that has been dominating, fail to capitalise enough on chances, and then let down its guard approaching the break.

Not so much when the guard doesn’t let down her team though.

It does help when that sentinel is that much taller, quicker and assured. Canadian Sasha Andrews was immense in marshalling her back line and the Glory girls easily picked off aerial threats. They were a little shakier on the ground but most often were able to work out of trouble via some deft tackling. On the few occasions that the ball made it through them, keeper Carly Telford was calmly in control, both up high and down low – She didn’t spill a ball all game and her clearances up the park were punched low and with good distance. Still, there were some nervous moments.

Which were partly for Longworth72 who had discovered that The Noah had drunk his entire water supply in 10 minutes and there was nary a toilet in sight.

The Noah’s defence was in danger of leaking a late own-goal.

Fortunately though the little tacker held firm, the half-time whistle sounded and a quick dash down the wing to the facilities in the Sportsman’s Bar ensured that there were no 1st half injury-time dramatics.

The 2nd half on the pitch was a tamer affair, although the Wanderers did start with a brief show of intent, a threat to make the Glory pay for not quite putting this game to bed. It however came to nought – There were good chances but they lacked a finish to trouble Telford.

Collette McCallum had that finish for the Glory.

Perth, looking tired and a little bit vulnerable had surged into an attack ont he break, winning a free-kick 25m out, slightly to the left of centre. McCallum stepped up and bent a curler around the wall and into the top left of the goal – A real moment of class from the captain and a just reward for her industry and touch throughout.

It was also the game-killer – That strike took the sting out of the match and from there the Glory switched down a gear. There were a few more misdirected passes, forwards straying offside and dummies to nobody in particular. Western Sydney were in no mood to take full toll however – At the back Sasha Andrews continued to monster Wanderers forward moves and for mine it was a toss-up for best on ground between her and McCallum.

Either would have been worthy as both played a key role in what was a relatively comfortable 3-0 win in the end. The Perth side returned to the top of the W-League table, 2 points clear of Sydney United (13) and with a game in hand to boot. Impressively, the Glory Women have 9 more points then in all of last season – And from half the games. In fact their 15 points to date would have qualified them for the finals in 3 of the 4 past seasons.

Those are some positive numbers. Here’s a negative 1 – 1 in 3 Australian women over the age of 15 will experience and report some form of sexual or physical violence in their life. In almost every circumstance the perpetrators will be men.

I’m a man.

I’m not a violent 1 – I’m not a bully and I’ve been lucky – I’ve never really been a victim. I’d like to think I’ve stood up for the latter, both on and off the football pitch but somehow, in light of that number above, that doesn’t feel anywhere like enough of a stand. That horrible statistic is enough to make me wonder how my gender doesn’t curl up into a ball of shame.

The Noah will be a man 1 day (too soon) as well. I’m not a parenting expert – I’m making most of it up as I go along and I figure I’m wrong as often as right. I do know sport though and so Saturday was about helping The Noah to grow into a world where women are worthy and equitable team-mates and where there is plenty of brilliant football to enjoy.

Wouldn’t that be a glorious future?

But You Were One Of Us

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