Brisbane’s best kept secret this weekend was tucked away in the southern suburbs of the city.
Following a long and gruelling season, Australian football’s W-League kicked off their finals campaign in splendid style at the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre. Having hosted the 1982 Commonwealth Games QSAC also played home to rugby league’s Brisbane Broncos from 1992 through to early 2003. The ground has also hosted State of Origin matches whilst Lang Park was under reconstruction.
Today however a hearty crowd ticking in just over 1,900 supporters enjoyed one of the games of the season in the grand final qualifier between Brisbane Roar and southern rivals, Sydney FC. So the question on my lips as I entered the venue moments before kick off was a simple one. Will the girls entertain me enough to entice me back at a later date?
What played out was a scrumptious affair that remained in the balance going into the final minutes.
Early chances were on offer to both sides however, it was Brisbane opportunist Tamika Butt who enjoyed the first goal of the game after only fourteen minutes. Shaken but not stirred Sydney rallied and hit back soon after with an equaliser to Annalie Longo before Samantha Kerr put the southerners ahead with a brilliant long ball in the twenty-ninth minute. The Roar sharpened up in attack and were unlucky to go into the break behind 2-1.
As the second half opened it appeared the heat was catching players out as the game gradually ground to a defensive halt. Long clearing hoofs and poor attacking reads had me thinking my afternoon was going to splutter all the way to the end.
Just as the game looked like faltering out of nowhere Samantha Kerr put the sky blue’s up 3-1 with a deliciously long range effort just on the hour mark which seemingly booked Sydney FC into the grand final against either Perth of Melbourne Victory next Saturday afternoon.
With their grand final place seemingly lost Brisbane midfielder Vedrana Popovic took centre stage to bring Brisbane within striking distance on the seventy-five minute mark. From here the Roar girls rallied hard and created countless chances that would have sent the game into extra time and perhaps penalties.
Opportunities to equalise came and went as Sydney striker Emma Kete saw red for an off the ball incident following Brisbane’s second goal.
Butt was given one last chance to send the game into extra time as the stoppage period drew to a close however her shot was fired wide of the post. As the final whistle blew the dejected Roar players slumped to the pitch exhausted and heart broken, Their counterparts from Sydney left the field knowing they have one more game left in their season that may see them crowned champions of the W-League for season 2012/13.
Woman’s football in Australia showed today that it can stand proudly on two feet alongside the men’s game. If you have not yet enjoyed a day out watching the girls of Australian football show their wears then perhaps next season it could be a mighty fine and impressive addition to your bucket list.
Shall I be returning to the W-League myself next season and beyond? The answer is a definitive yes!
More importantly. Can woman match it with men in sport? It seems they have been on the mark for longer than we though.