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2016: The year the Roygirls Roared


By David Leydon

Throughout the course of the 137 year history of the Fitzroy Football Club there have been many memorable moments and proud achievements both on-field and off.

The year of 2016 was one of those years for our magnificent Fitzroy-ACU Women's Team.

This week RedRoy looks back at the memorable finals series of that season.

In only their second year since their formation, the Roygirls competed in Division 3 of the VWFL competition in 2016.

To say the season got off to a slow start is probably an understatement when the girls lost their Round One clash against Gippsland by 130-points.

They lost again in Round Two by 19-points against Ajax before turning things right around to win 7 of their next 10 games to finish in 3rd spot by season's end.

For the team to make the finals in just their second season was already an outstanding achievement, but they were not going to rest on their laurels just yet.

The first Semi Final was played on Sunday 7 August, 2016 at the Bill Lawry Oval in Northcote against the SKOB Saints. On paper and on form, it looked like it was going to be a difficult task for the Roygirls as SKOBs had beaten them in both the home and away clashes during the season, including the last round just the week before the finals.

But this was the big time finals atmosphere that the Roys had been craving all season and they were not going to let this chance slip.

Fitzroy-ACU held a 6-point lead at quarter time that increased to 12-points by halftime, and a near unassailable 26-points at the last change.

Our girls showed no mercy in the final quarter and crushed the SKOBs by 33-points to claim the first ever finals victory for the mighty Fitzroy-ACU Women's Team.

This meant a Preliminary Final battle the next week again at Bill Lawry Oval against old rival Ajax.

The Roygirls went into this game a fired up, focussed and ready unit and it was a pleasure to watch them run all over their opponents right from the start and record a memorable 27-point victory.

Now for the big one the 2016 Grand Final against the all conquering Gippsland team.

The Grand Final was played at the famous old Dandenong VFA ground, Shepley Oval on a cold and wet Saturday night on the 20th August, 2016.

A huge contingent of Fitzroy-ACU supporters rugged up and made their way out to Dandy for the game.

There was a cyclone blowing to one end of the ground which made scoring nearly impossible at the other end. In fact, the only score against the wind was recorded by the Roygirls who kicked a point in the last quarter.

I vividly remember sitting at this game and feeling immensely proud of our club. Our Fitzroy-ACU Womens Team gave their all against the Gippsland team who had gone the whole season undefeated. It was Gippsland who defeated our girls in Round One of the season by 130-points and here we were a few months later, not only playing against them, but matching them all over the park in the biggest game of the year.

When the Roys led by 5-points at three quarter time, it was well and truly game. On.

Unfortunately the Gippslanders had that strong wind in the last quarter and held on to win by just 9-points in a classic Grand Final struggle.

When the final siren sounded, the Roygirls were mobbed by their loyal fans in the middle of the oval.

Despite the loss, everyone recognised and acknowledged the huge achievement of this team to make it all the way to the Grand Final. The way they played their hearts out for the club that night brought many a tear to a hardened football eye.

After the on field presentations to the winners, the mighty Fitzroy ACU Womens Team left the ground to a standing ovation from our supporters.

Many of the players in this team have gone on to become the mainstays and backbone of our Womens team.

Names like Minuz, Murphy, Madden, Ross-Harris, Atkinson and Golden BootOlney have become champions of the club and they were all there in that famous finals series of 2016.

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