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Gates Closed As Huge Crowd Watches Historic First AFL Women's Match

Footy. That is all.

03/02/2017 8:21 PM AEDT | Updated 03/02/2017 9:38 PM AEDT
Michael Willson/AFL Media via Getty Images
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 3: Alison Downie of the Blues and Emma King of the Magpies compete in a ruck contest during the 2017 AFLW Round 01 match between the Carlton Blues and the Collingwood Magpies at Ikon Park on February 3, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

You got chills. And if you didn't get chills, you must've been sitting in a sauna. The inaugural AFL women's season kicked off on a beautiful Melbourne evening at a packed Princes Park, the old home of Carlton and the new home of awesome.

Police closed the gates, the crowd was so big. And guess what? From the opening bounce, it looked like a footy game. Not some weird watered-down version of footy, but footy. Players were hard at the ball, marks in the forward 50 were hard to come by, and the teams traded early goals.

Twenty-two-year-old Collingwood centre half forward Jasmine Garner was listed as one of the best marks in the game in the match guide, and so it proved as she took a tough contested grab, then converted, for the historic first goal.

Carlton hit back with the next major, because guess why? Because this was a tough match of footy between two willing teams, that's why. A curiosity? Sure, for many. But it was also a red hot contest between two teams with skills, desire, and all those things coaches salivate over.

Even the commentators got in on the act, saying the sort of stuff they always say like "the next goal in this contest is huge" and the ubiquitous "cleeever" (which they all stole from Bruce McAvaney and should have left to him, but that's another story).

Late in the first quarter this happened.

Carlton led 3.0.18 to 1.2.8 at quarter time.

In the second quarter, a new star revealed herself to a nationwide audience for the first time. Darcy Vescio, also 22, is a graphic designer by trade, and one of the Carlton Blues' two marquee players. Three goals in the first half showed everybody why.

At halftime the Blues led 4.1.25 to 1.4.10.

After the long break, Moana Hope -- the league's highest profile player who once drew fake Nike logos on her clothes but is now paid to wear the real deal -- had an opportunity for Collingwood close to goal but at an acute angle. Alas, she missed.

Carlton booted the first goal of the second half a few minutes later, and from then on were always going to be hard to catch. Quarters are slightly shorter and goals less common in AFL Women's. They also the kicked the second and final goal of the quarter thanks to -- yep, her again -- Darcy Vescio.

Darcy Vescio is going to be the most talked-about person in Australia this weekend.

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Classy Darcy

It was 6.1.37 to 1.5.11 at the third break.

In the final quarter, Carlton's dominance continued. Collingwood also had injuries to key players. And just when you thought, nope, Darcy Vescio couldn't possibly squeeze an extra highlight into what was already a clear best-on-ground performance, she took the mark of the night.

In front of her was a kick of maybe 40 metres. Know what happened next? She delivered the most perfect little chip pass to a teammate, that's what. So along with sublime, you can add the adjective unselfish. What. A. Star.

Oh, and a few minutes earlier, this happened. Vescio wasn't the the only woman out there with sticky fingers.

If Vescio was best-on-ground, Bianca Jakobsson was probably second best

The final score was Carlton 7.4.46 to Collingwood 1.5.11. And at the final siren, when the Carlton team song rang out at the famous old ground for the first time in years at a meaningful match, it brought a tear to your eye.

Was this match perfect? No. In patches it was a little scrappy. Will the standard improve? Of course it will, as AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan himself admitted this week. But we saw enough on the first night of AFL Women's to be excited about the eight week season ahead, and the future of the women's game.

It was footy, just as we know it. Occasionally infuriating, but always exciting. If you missed this match, take our advice and catch the next one. The full fixture is here.

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