This article was written by Melissa Muscat.
Congratulations to Melbourne City on winning the W League Grand Final on Sunday 18th February 2018 at Allianz Stadium against Sydney FC. Phenomenally, it is City’s third consecutive Grand Final win. Even better than that, their admission into the W League was only in the 2015/16 season, making them champions every year they have been in the competition! This feat could well be the definition of success. Simply outstanding.
I chose the right season to debut my first W League following. I remember the first game Sydney FC played against Brisbane Roar before the Sydney A League match. My first women’s match ever. Whilst the girls went down 3-1 in their opening game, I noted in that article that these girls can play. They impressed me from day one. I knew the results would come and that is an understatement. From defeat in their first three games to making it to the Grand Final is an amazing effort. Congratulations to the ladies, Coach Ante Juric and Assistant Coach Vince Milicevic.
It has to be said just how far the women’s game has progressed, in many ways. The talent displayed in the W League is outstanding. Unfortunately for Sydney on Sunday it wasn’t their night but take nothing away from Melbourne City, they played very well and have some quality players in their side. There were also two huge player losses to Sydney FC in recent weeks and that hurts in big games like finals appearances. Amy Harrison and Caitlin Foord we wish you a speedy recovery, already looking ahead to next season. The crowd must also be applauded. With all the hype on social media during the week and the support for the girls throughout the season, I predicted the figure would be up near 5000, but it was even more impressive at 6025, breaking a W League Grand Final attendance record. Whilst it would be wonderful to see a crowd figure as high as the A League, numbers have definitely improved in recent times. The Cove were their usual awesome self, chanting as passionately as they would at any A League game…affectionately modifying one of the chants to ‘Come on you girls in blue.’ Nice touch.
Key moments of the game included the first goal scored by Jessica Fishlock. Whilst there was a bit of a bungle with the ball involving Sydney goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, the chip into the back of the net was a good one. Late in the second half Jodie Taylor all but wrapped up the game with a shot narrowly missed by Fishlock at first attempt. It was always going to be hard for Sydney to come back from two goals down that late in the game, in a closely contested match. Personally I believe Melbourne City’s Goalkeeper Lydia Williams was the standout. She really was a cut above and from witnessing last night’s performance, her position in the national team is greatly justified.
The only criticism I have is that the season finished too early! Just as I was warming up to my first W League season, it’s over. With a strong national team and many of the Matildas playing locally, there is much hype and excitement towards the future of women’s football in Australia. With continued and even greater support for the world game which is being embraced and growing rapidly in our sunburnt country, the sky is the limit for the W League.