There was excitement in the air at the North Fitzroy Arms last Thursday night when the inaugural Women’s Footy Almanac was launched. The pub was awash with members of the football community, coming from as far as the Barossa Valley and Sydney, donning their clubs’ various colours. Notably, GWS, the Bulldogs and Melbourne were all popular on the night. All are, of course, existing AFLW teams.
Edited by John Harms, Yvette Wroby and Stephanie Connell, the Almanac immortalises the inaugural AFLW season. This stands alongside the men’s edition of the book, which has been published since 2007, and the website of football articles taking on both the technical and more personal side of the sport. This is reflected in the variety of essays in the Almanac. The book contains a number of forewords by the editors, alongside works from Leesa Catto, Gill Dite, Bobby Macumber, Anne Myers and Brisbane under age footballer Bonnie Norman. This is followed by match reports from the AFLW season.
John Harms, the man behind the Almanac, warmed up the crowd, noting the lengthy history of women’s football spanning over a hundred years. Contrary to popular opinion, Harms said, the AFL had not invented it. He praised the hard work of Leesa Catto, an important promoter of women’s football through the Victorian league for a number of years. Harms could recall Catto’s scrapbook of coverage on women’s football from over ten years ago, of her best efforts to get the media and public behind the idea of women’s footy.
Comedian and footballer Bobby Macumber spoke of her memories of bonding with her teammates, now best friends, for the sixteen years that she played. She also lamented (to the tune of I Still Call Australia Home, no less) booking a gig on February 3 this year hence missing the opening game lockout between Collingwood and Carlton at Princes Park. The affection and camaraderie she spoke of between women in football was reflected in the mood of the attendees at being a part of something special. Something that would benefit future generations of young women.
When I asked editor Yvette Wroby how she felt about the launch, she appeared almost in disbelief that the book was finally here and the amount of support it had garnered. I say almost because you could see her belief in the inevitable popularity of women’s football and the efforts that she went to to get this publication off the ground.
To wrap up official proceedings, we even got to hear from young Jasmine of the Caulfield Bears, who has been immortalised on the cover of the Almanac by Kate Birrell, alongside Erin Phillips and Sabrina Frederick-Traub. Jasmine battled past the lack of a working sound system to tell the crowd that she loves footy because it’s a team sport and they let women play. She goes for Melbourne and loved watching Daisy Pearce this year – we’ll have to keep an eye out for her in future.
Speaking of the future, there are plans, of course, for a Women’s Footy Almanac next year. I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.
You can order a copy of The Women's Footy Almanac 2017 from www.footyalmanac.com.au