North's AFLW players are trying to become the club's first premiership-winning team this century. Image by Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

North Melbourne embracing AFLW grand-final hype

Oliver Caffrey December 2, 2023

North Melbourne’s AFLW players are embracing the hype and opportunity to become the club’s first premiership team this century.

The Kangaroos are in their first AFLW grand final since the competition formed in 2017.

It is also North’s first appearance in any decider since the men’s team won the 1999 flag, giving the club’s long-suffering fans something to cherish.

After being close to reaching the grand final for the last four years, North finally booked a spot with memorable victories over Melbourne and Adelaide.

All that stands between the Kangaroos and premiership glory is the incomparable Brisbane Lions, who are in their fifth AFLW grand final from seven completed seasons.

In beating the Demons and Adelaide, North banished their reputation as being a step below the AFLW’s Big Three.

North coach Darren Crocker believes his team had an “amazing” opportunity in Sunday’s grand final at a sold-out Ikon Park.

“We’ve spoken about (it), you only get the opportunity to be the first once and we’ve got that opportunity right in front of us to create a legacy, like Brisbane have already done in the history of their footy club,” Crocker said on Saturday.

“For our program, it would be enormous for the club.The women’s program we feel we’re in a really good space. 

“It’s been a journey, but to now give ourselves an opportunity to win our first ever AFLW premiership, it’d be pretty special.”

North released a stirring video on social media this week, voiced by president Sonja Hood, about the history of the club.

Crocker did not bother showing the video to the group as it had already gone viral.

“They would have all loved the emotion and the history that was involved in Sonja’s poem and the video itself,” he said.

“The visual of it was quite emotional for any North Melbourne person to have seen.

“It’s been a fabulous week from that regard. It’s been emotional. 

“It’s also been something that we’ve spoken about the players really embracing what this week really looks like.”

North will enter the match as slight favourites despite having never beaten the Lions in the AFLW before.

Brisbane secured a thrilling two-point win when they faced North in round four, storming home in the second-half after trailing by 18 points at halftime.

After losing stars Emily Bates, Jesse Wardlaw and Greta Bodey following last season’s agonising grand-final defeat to Melbourne, the Lions were again written off.

But as they have done in the face of multiple expansion raids before, the Lions have defied the odds to be in with a shot of winning their second premiership.

 Lions forward Dakota Davidson is expected to play in the AFLW grand final against North Melbourne. Image by Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS 

Star Lions forward Dakota Davidson trained fully this week and appears to be a certain starter despite hurting her knee during last week’s preliminary-final win over Geelong.

Lions coach Craig Starcevich said established stars like captain Bre Koenen, Ally Anderson and Sophie Conway had been integral in the lead-up to the grand final.

“If you’ve done it before, there’s a degree of calmness and bit of focus about your preparation,” he said.

“But essentially, once the game starts, it’s ‘let’s go’ and everyone’s out there to try and win the game.

“But I think in your prep stage, I think it can be helpful.”