Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Montreal Angels v Boston Lady Demons
Story courtesy of (stephinboots) THE FOOTY ALMANAC

A few things I’d never encountered in over 40 years of footy-going: snow en route to a game; a bagpipe medley of Advance Australia Fair and Waltzing Matilda; a rule forbidding goals kicked from beyond the 30-yard line; a field of artificial turf; barracking in French. But that was before last weekend, and the playoffs for the AFL Quebec preseason cup: six men’s teams (all local), three women’s teams.

We were there (via the Ben&Jerry’s factory in Vermont and a drive through four hours of snow flurries) to cheer on the Boston Lady Demons, because our Lydia was pulling on the boots as their full forward. She’d played two games of competitive footy in her life before we moved to the States; she’s already got three more under her belt, courtesy of the USAFL National Championships last October. The new Boston team had taken eight players to Nationals for a combine team (the Boston Lady Demons/Columbus Jillaroos/Baltimore Washington Eagles – a bit of a mouthful for us barrackers), and had been working their butts off since to recruit and train players for the forthcoming season. In fact, recruiting’s gone so well that the Preseason Cup Footy Record (an impressive 28 pages with colour cover) still lists the Montreal Angels’ opponent as a Boston/New York combine, but Boston’s fielding a full nine-a-side team, and New York’s brought eight girls. A handful of ring-ins from Ontario turn it into a three-way comp, and give the teams some subs.

At nineteen, Lydia’s the baby of the Boston team, and their only Australian. If you long for the days of old-fashioned hard-fought footy, played by people with an unrivalled love of the game, you can’t go past women’s footy in North America. These aren’t players who’ve grown up obsessed with footy, being dressed in club colours from the cot onwards, trotting off to Auskick. These are players who’ve stumbled on the game – or on someone who plays the game – and become hooked. And some bring star quality and a history of sporting excellence to their new love. International Cup veterans like Montreal’s Aimee Legualt, New York’s Drea Casillas, and Boston’s own Emily Riehl could match it with the men of many local footy teams at home in Australia.

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