The 14th of August 2022 may have been an ordinary, casual Sunday for some, but for the Monash Blues it marked an extraordinary milestone.
It was a season of firsts for the club. Not only was it the first year a women’s team made it into the Grand Final but soon after, it became the first Premiership for a Monash Blues Women's team.
Against an undefeated Collegians team, the Blues demonstrated perseverance, grit, and impeccable marks to secure the premiership – 21 to 19.
We spoke with Monash Blue’s Women’s Reserve captain, Molly McFarlane, and game-winning goal-kicker Jacqui Greer about the monumental triumph; as well as being a woman in sport, the pressure of performing and what it means to be a member of the Monash team.
Firstly, I believe congratulations are in order, first Monash Women’s team in a Grand Final and first Women’s team to win a premiership, how does it feel?
Molly: Feels amazing, I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet. We were riding a really good wave after solid performances in the first two finals, so to top it off winning that flag was incredible. We knew they would be a tough side, but we made it count on the day that mattered.
Jacqui, what did it feel like kicking the winning goal?
It felt great to be able to put the team in front with only 10 mins left in the last quarter. But it was very much a team effort with everyone giving it their all.
Molly, as captain, how do you view your role during a match like this? Do you feel pressure to boost team morale and lead, or are times like these actually the most exciting to be captain?
I’ll be honest, I was pretty nervous going into this game as captain. I had hardly slept all week and was feeling the pressure big time. I think the hardest part is pumping everyone up and staying positive whilst also focusing on your own game and how you’re playing. As soon as I walked into the rooms and started to get around the team, I felt a lot better!
And Jacqui, as a team player?
Sometimes the pressure gets to me, and I drop marks or kick poorly. But it only makes me want to do better and go in harder at the next contest. I feel very supported by my team mates on the field, we drive each other to play good footy.
Molly, you’ve been a part of Women's Football at the Blues from the start - 2017, how have things changed from those first years of the team being established compared to now?
Things have changed significantly since I first started. I remember playing freezing Friday night games at the Frearson in my first year with only 15 or 16 players on the park and distinctly remember the awkward social events where the boys would outnumber us 50 to 1.
I feel really privileged to have been a part of the inaugural team and how we’ve helped pave the way for the girls coming through now. Us older players make a real effort to make them feel a part of the club and encourage them to come down to social events and get involved in as many ways as possible.
Ella Stephenson has done a ton of work behind the scenes to get the women’s teams up and running and most importantly, taken seriously. And the work Muncha, Hendo and of course Ian Mills have done for the women’s program has been crucial to our success this year. From when it all began in 2017, both Eliza Millen and I, as foundation players, can reflect on how important winning this flag is for the club in the bigger scheme of things.
A question for both of you, what is your favourite thing about playing at the Blues?
Molly: I think my favourite thing is the community and mateship that is built when you play for a football club. I love the physicality of the game and am grateful for the opportunity to play. Growing up, a lot of the girls I was friends with did not really have any interest in sports, especially footy, so coming to Monash and meeting other girls like me who love it gives me a real sense of purpose and belonging.
Jacqui: The amazing people that I play with are the best part of footy. From the start, it’s been the most welcoming and fun sport that I’ve ever tried.
Molly, we’d be interested to know, what are three key lessons you and the team learned throughout this season?
A key lesson for me this year was learning to love playing footy again after COVID.
Secondly, and it's nothing new, but teamwork makes the dream work. Rather than one or two players that dominated every week, we've had a solid core group that played their role week in week out. As well as, young, first-year players that stood up when others were called up to the senior side.
And finally, to trust coach Hendo; him and the process.
Jacqui, as a keen member of the team, for people interested in joining, why Monash Blues?
Monash Blues is by far the best club in the league and not just because we won the grand final. Our coach, trainers and players are remarkable people and create such a great ethos at the club.
So, what’s next for the Reserves team?
Molly: Obviously, we want to go back-to-back! If winning a flag is that much fun, I would love to do it all over again. Besides that, we will continue to develop young players and give opportunities where we can.
I have no doubt four or five girls that played in the Ressie flag this year will establish themselves in the senior side next season, which leaves the door open for more players to come through. All in all, I look forward to getting back for pre-season in November in prep for a big 2023. Go Ashes!
Congratulations to the team for a stellar win and an awe-inspiring season!
If being in a tight-knit, go-getting team peaks your interest, register for next season here.
All backgrounds and skills welcome!
By Viv Tang