Stocky’s Scribbles: Women’s grassroots flourishes

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On a mild, wet and windy Sunday night when everyone else was watching the final episode of the block while devouring their hot cooked dinner, the Brighton Womens Div 2 Seniors were taking on the Caulfield Cobras at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex.

This top of the table clash would normally only draw the regular disciples from supporting families but this was different. An entrepreneurial post on facebook by a clever young lady using the recent visit by Liverpool as the draw card saw many old Brighton faithful and past players drawn to the ground for what was an entertaining night of fast and furious women’s football.

Royalty was on show; pas and present Presidents, Committee Members and coaching fraternity of the club along with legendary volunteers and past junior players all fronted to offer unbridled support for the Brighton Womens team.

The anticipation and excitement by the volumous gathering behind the Brighton dugout heralded a look of steely resolve in the eyes of the Brighton girls outfit as they knew they had to perform on the big stage – especially when all these amazing supporters had turned up to cheer them on in the rain. And perform they did!!!

With a vibrant northerly blowing and rain sheets intermittently streaming from under the bright lights across the pitch, the Brighton girls were pumped, their faces stoic and focused on the task at hand.

With captain/coach Abi Love on the field tonight, the assistant Mr John Perich was overseeing the warm up and quietly smirking at the huge turn up for the game. John likes a big stage and has runs on the board becoming the first Victorian Futsal coach to ever take home a female Australian Championship in 2012. The girls rallied into position, jumping up and down on the spot awaiting the whistle to blow.

The starting lineup saw youngster Bridget Hanrahan guarding the net supported by the leadership of experienced defenders Abi Love, Sarah Fraser-Jones, Sarah Beck and Blair Taylor. A defensive line that Winston Churchill would be proud of.

Driving and controlling the engine room was the talented Liana D’Amico combined with the experienced Magda Wyszomirska and Natalie Aramian to create the play.

Up front the speedy Kim Francis combined with skilled wingers Arielle Kissas and Phoebe Chapman to hopefully sneak a couple of “sausage rolls” past the Caulfield defense. On the bench were the tanacious Emily Chai, Georgina Huse and Amelia X.

The game began with great gusto as there was no holding back by either team with their tackles and aggression on the ball. The Brighton girls were kicking into a very strong wind and were controlling the ball well through the midfield distributing with pinpoint accuracy to the wings where Phoebe C and Arielle K were lurking.

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At the five minute mark, Magda W captured the ball in the middle of the pitch and turned to release a bullet like pass to the blistering run of Natalie A up the right wing. She quickly scooted past the Caulfield defenders and dispatched a beautifully weighted cross to the waiting feet of Kim F who deftly caressed the ball passed the Caulfield keeper into the back of the net.

The roar from the Brighton camp was deafening as celebrations were underway by all and sundry. 1-0 to the Brighton women with a certain excited supporter throwing his head back on the completion of the goal, banging his head against the steel light pole. It really hurt!

Coming to the end of the first half, Caulfield were doing everything they could to force entry into their forward half but were unable to penetrate the indefatigable backline of Brighton with Bridget H playing a vital role in repelling every Caulfield attack with an air of confidence that belied her age.

The two centre backs were like a rock and with the left and right backs shut down every forward thrust before any entry could be made. When a number of balls finally did get past and Caulfield threatened with continuous corners, Brighton prevailed and headed to the break with a one goal lead.

The second half saw Emily C, Georgina H and Amelia X make their way onto the pitch and the Brighton girls were determined to utilize the strong breeze now in their favour.

Overall, the standard and quality of the game was really good with both teams displaying skillful and adroit passing combined with a passion for the game that saw many bodies put on the line for the good of the team. Emily C was brought down in the heat of battle and was stretchered off with an ankle injury adding to the list of casualties for Brighton this year.

At the 68 minute mark, Pheobe C danced around the Caulfield defensive line and with great vision switched the ball across the entire pitch to the feet of the rampaging Amelia X who evaded the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands to slot the second major for Brighton and provide some breathing space between the two teams.

It was now a matter of Brighton shutting up shop and holding off the desperate attempts of Caulfield Cobra’s to find their first major.

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Despite the Cobras best efforts it didn’t happen and the Brighton Women’s team came out on top reversing the result from game one and positioning themselves as a real chance to secure a State League One spot in 2014.

You see it’s been several years since my daughter previously pulled on the Brighton jersey, back when it was the green and gold in fact! Our vision was always for Brighton SC to host a Women’s Premier League Team in 2015 and the desire still burns in the hearts of many who were both on and off the pitch. From humble beginnings, this grassroots club has produced some extraordinary young women playing for national, state and international teams today.

One of the beauties of being part of a club is the friendship and comradeship that exists where no one is really playing for themselves but for each other and the pride of the shirt. This was most evident on the night as the Brighton girls huddled to celebrate a well fought win and contemplate what might be in the year ahead.

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In the car on the way home I recalled the many wonderful memories of being part of a grassroots football club and how much I missed it.

Stay tuned this week when I return to Darebin to report on the many Brighton SC girls who now participate in the FFV NTC Girls squad against the Northern U15 Boys each week.

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