Sunday was an emotional day for the AFL community, and especially so for Fremantle’s AFLW players, who saw the cancellation of their season after going unbeaten through seven games.
In the season finale of Kickin’ Back, Hayley Miller and Sarah Garstone spoke with captain Kara Antonio about their feelings on the day.
While Antonio admitted to being sceptical that the AFLW would get through the three-week finals series, she said she was completely committed to playing the next week against Melbourne in a preliminary final.
“I had watched the game back, watched the Melbourne v GWS game, I made all the notes ready to go for the midfield,” Antonio said.
“On Sunday I was icing the knee with compression boots, out in the back room, legs up, really pumped, really looking forward to playing Melbourne.
“Ebony (Antonio) was sitting on her phone, I think I was watching Netflix and she goes, ‘oh no, the season’s been cancelled.’
“I didn’t even know what I was feeling. I just took a really big deep breath and a few tears rolled down my face.
“We probably expected it to happen but when reality hit, it all seemed pretty real what was going on.”
Miller was grocery shopping and said she had to rush home.
“I was at the shops, practicing social distancing of course! It came through on my phone, and we hadn’t heard anything from the club, so it was a real shock,” Miller said.
“I was just trying to chill, thinking ‘it’s all good’, but as things started to come through from the girls, I realised how legit it was and I rushed home.
“As soon as I got home, I just sat on the couch and read what (senior coach) Trent Cooper had sent us, just basically saying he was so sorry for all the hard work we put in during the season.
“I just sat there and I just absolutely bawled my eyes out. Just because it felt like the carpet had been ripped out from underneath us.
“We did expect it to happen at some point, but when it actually happened, you just felt, ‘oh this is actually legit now’.”
Garstone said she found out while watching the AFL’s media conference with her family.
“I was at my folks’ house in Gingin gardening with my Mum and Dad,” Garstone said.
“Coops had sent us a text that Gill McLachlan was doing a press conference and my dad said ‘that’s it, it’s all over’ and I said to him ‘you’re the most dramatic man I’ve ever met.’”
“I went in and watched it, sat down with my lunch and I started crying and my spaghetti was filling up with tears! I felt I couldn’t eat it anymore.
“I feel like it will hit home this week when it gets to Friday and we haven’t trained all week. What do people do at nighttime? I don’t know what to do with myself.”
Antonio said she’s going to have to delete all of the AFLW-related reminders from her phone.
“I’m pretty OCD with all my reminders and I got one last night that popped up on my phone for training,” Antonio said.
“And I just got a bit upset as I hit ‘dismiss’. I’m going to have to delete the rest of them.
“It’s almost that sick feeling. Like you Hayley, I felt – it’s a bit dramatic – but my heart had been ripped out of my chest.
“We knew there probably wasn’t going to be three weeks (of finals) and I think that’s why we were so disappointed that we didn’t have the opportunity to play in a grand final.”