Hawthorn coach Bec Goddard is keen to transfer her club’s deep hatred of Essendon into AFLW ranks, and there might even be a bag of sand thrown in for good measure. The Hawks and Bombers will make their AFLW debuts when they lock horns on Saturday night.
The match was originally set to take place at Port Melbourne’s ETU Stadium, but the huge interest in the clash saw it moved to Marvel Stadium.
The clubs have a rich history in VFL/AFL ranks, with one of the most famous clashes being the “line in the sand” match in round 11, 2004. The Hawks were sick of being beaten up by their rivals so they unleashed a physical barrage after half-time which ultimately led to $70,700 in melee fines and 16 suspensions being handed out among the teams.
Essendon won the match 154-80, but Hawthorn’s physical stance has gone down in folklore and helped turn momentum their way in the rivalry.
Goddard is keen to evoke memories of that match heading into Saturday night’s historic occasion.
“It’s funny you mention that because I am going to Bunnings from here to buy a bag of sand to dump out the front of the change room and draw the line in,” Goddard told reporters on Friday. “I grew up watching it, I remember the ‘line in the sand’ game. I have a deep, deep dislike for Essendon, growing up a Hawks supporter.
“I hope that all of our fans come out on Saturday night and get to see something really special – our first ever Hawthorn women’s team playing against the arch enemy.”
Hawthorn will unveil 12 AFLW debutants in Saturday’s match. One Hawthorn player who has plenty of experience is former Brisbane and North Melbourne midfielder Kaitlyn Ashmore, who will notch game No 50 when she lines up against the Bombers.
The 30-year-old primary school teacher feels like her move to Hawthorn has been a breath of fresh air, despite the extra travel time involved.
“The last 10 weeks have been the best fun I’ve had. I haven’t had fun playing footy in years,” Ashmore said. “Last year I was a bit tired and wasn’t really loving my footy. This year I just love getting in, love seeing the girls.
“It’s probably been harder this year [balancing work and footy] because I’m on the other side of town, so it takes me an hour to get to training. But it doesn’t really matter when you love it.”