one for the ladies

June 19th, 2012

We just watched the Women in League TVC made by the NRL and it’s a bit beautiful, don’t you think?

Beautifully written, beautifully made and a beautiful example of how much people can give to something they love, like their kids, or plain old footy, without being paid big bucks or lavished with attention.

It also says to girls and young women something you’d kinda hope to say to every kid: that what you do with your time is valuable. That even if it doesn’t feel like people care, hard work is its own reward. That sooner or later, the world will notice. That you should and can do whatever you choose to do, even if it doesn’t seem glamorous or impressive.

But for girls, that’s where it gets a bit tricky. If you get what you want, and if what you want is a chance to make a living in rugby league, then all of a sudden there’s a whole lot of can’t in your life.

Can’t buy shoes with peep-toes anymore cause people with spikes are running in the vicinity.
Can’t quite manage to find a unisex polo shirt that fits.
Can’t travel with the team cause there’s no-one to room with.
Can’t pee for the next twenty minutes cause there are naked dudes in there changing.
Can’t go into the sheds with the other journos and interview players because the stadium security guard doesn’t think ladies belong there.
Can’t guarantee I won’t crack it if another person asks me where I “picked up” my workmates when they see us in a pub.
Can’t get drawn into an argument when people say the team’s playing “like fucking girls!”
Can’t remember the last time you got your hair-colour done.
Can’t be bothered answering that question in the press box cause you always just ask my male colleague afterwards anyway.

But the truth is … can’t is not unusual. You can’t find an easy job in footy, no matter how hard you look and no matter what you’re hiding under your team-issue trackies. For most, a full-time job means seven days a week, because footy waits for no man (or woman). It means arriving at 8am to start supervising preparations for a 7.30pm kick-off. It means staying until 1am to film and upload press conferences and interviews. It means coming into the office at 5am to read through all the emails from fans with suggestions for changes to the playing roster: “dear sir, thank you for your email …”

I’ve met the ladies and men who do all those jobs.

For the guys who wear jerseys, it means pushing your body to its limits, a public private life, and the chance that living your dream will leave you in pain for the rest of your life.

So why would you bother? At least the players get fame for a little while, glory if they’re lucky, and riches if they sign up with a media network once they retire.

Everyone else just gets a polo shirt and a party pie on game day.

The real question is how could you NOT bother?

For every johnny anonymous who calls you a slut, there are ten men with the kind of crows feet that come from watching a footy team train every morning who will sit down and have a beer with you and talk about the game. For a girl who’s been more used to being told she doesn’t understand offside and marker defence, that feels like a gold medal.


Or a premiership-winning captain who’ll stick his head in and tell you that you look like a million bucks. Probably because you wore lipstick that day. Fancy!

Best of all, there’s the hug that comes after you win a game you were written-off in and you could swear every one of your 8pm rage-outs in the office actually helped it happen.

There is nothing like it. It’s the closest you can ever hope to get to the game you love. Toilets with no hand soap in them don’t mean much in comparison.

Sure, maybe because of your ladyparts … you could never have achieved it in an NRL jersey. But you got the next best thing.

And that’s the answer to the final question: why Women in League round?

Because, like men who want to become nurses, or women who want to fix cars, women who make a living in rugby league do it hard. They take second-best to get there from people who don’t think chicks belong anywhere near a footy field, or people who simply think they’re strange.

Sometimes, they take second-best because they think there will never be a chance for them to run out in a women’s rugby league competition for anything more than a bag of peanuts and a few heckles.

And outside the NRL, they do it for love not money. They do it to try and make sure that their own kids can have everything they want, including a chance to put on their size small junior socks and play footy on the weekend.

So why not have a week to stop and say to all the women in league: good job, ladies … and sorry about the polo shirts.

  • PaddyBoy

    Good article. Who the hell can’t understand the offside rule? Even in soccer it’s bloody simple.

  • Mike

    Would you agree that prior to this year WIL Round was promoted incorrectly? I get the feeling it was very tokenistic previously with the pink champagne functions and Manny/Petty at the game. Do you think it would be better for the ARLC to promote it more about women in the game and those who enjoy the game for what it is rather than using what they think a stereotypical woman likes to get them into the game? Maybe like a half price ticket for Women who work or volunteer in rugby league, a free pie, chips and a coke for all the women who come into the ground stuff like that.

  • Kate

    Wow, this was awesome. I have to say, I’m the only female in the Storm writers group that’s made up of fans… That write things… And while I’m not really involved with the clubby things, I can totally relate to this in the way that people – inside the club and out – have looked at me in surprise when they find out what I do in my spare time. So thank you for writing this :)

  • Annalogue

    As always beautifully put. And spare a thought also for the women who support the women who work in league and listen to the ranting and get enraged by slight or injustices meted out to those they love. BUT what a game and bring on Origin III

  • Anonymous

    I’ve seen your blogs! you guys all do a really good job. always frustrating dealing with people who assume you’re an idiot to begin with cause you’re a lady (a weird lady. hey, are you a lesbian?) but worth it in the end xxx

  • Anonymous

    not necessarily wrong! I think stuff like manis and champagne are nice … and I honestly think it’s strange working in a footy club now where whenebver it’s a player’s birthday … no one says anything. insanity! where are the birthday cakes and hugs guys?

    so I don’t think being stereotypically ladyish is a bad thing. but I also did just wanna give a shoutout to all the girls like me who come home from work stinking of socks sometimes from being in the sheds after the game, or drenched cause it was raining on game day.  

  • http://twitter.com/Mickyt1985 Michael Treacy

    I’d have a beer with youse all

  • Babzee

    Beautiful. Well done, and bless you for persevering. YOU are part of what makes League great. Thank you.

  • The_nrl_gal

    I can not believe that you have written this article at this time… It honestly was only yesterday while reading Brad Fittler’s book that I had decided to follow my dreams of doing a sports media course at uni and trying to get into the wonderful world of Rugby League. This is the second piece written that really pushes my dream and I take it as a fair dinkum sign that I have made the right choice. Thankyou. You have been wonderful and your articles witty and amusing since 2009 and to think I found you while looking for pictures of Wolfman and Billy Slater! :) Honestly thankyou girls

  • sassyneill

    hahah glad you like our inappropriate blogs. footy is tough but probably no tougher than anything else people dream of doing. if you don’t get put off easily by jerks you will be completely fine! you should send us links or heads up to any of the stuff you do at uni if you want readers! xx

  • Ella

    Amen to this Sassy! this is why I love Oh Errol! When I did that drawing of you girls and posted it on your Facebook page, it was homage to the both of you for giving ladies in league a voice- and I’m sure the other ladies (and gentlemen too!) are eternally grateful for your work and your contribution to this sport we love. 

     At the live games, I feel that female league supporters get jeered at, labelled and stereotyped for all the wrong reasons, particularly the teenage/young adult age group being the victims (although alcohol is the blame at times by some of the hecklers). Thank you for empowering us Ladies in League – and I mean all of us from Rugby league mums, to die-hard season ticket holders, to young girls who dream of playing womens’ rugby league someday, the list goes on. 
    Keep it going! 
    Ella xOx

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1437788614 Rhiannon Ingram

    Perfect! Absolutely perfect. I worked for an amateur team for 5 years. I remember the 3am mornings to get to an away game! Keep this up girls!

  • sassyneill

    hi BRA BOY – you’ll find it was me who just deleted your comments, because if you’re not man enough to have a go at people as yourself (we do) instead of using four fake names and fake email addresses, then I don’t really wanna hear from you. I don’t think you’re a bully but I do think you’re being cowardly.

  • sassyneill

    that’s true for some people in media and I’ll believe you if you say the advice was meant with good intentions. nonetheless there are certainly classier and more polite ways to express yourself than the posts I deleted. good luck to ya in your media career :)

  • Nugget

    I just find that the majority of the comments on ur social media and webpages are just friends sucking up to you ot guys thinking these girls are cute so il suck up,I couldn’t find any constructive comments and that is what you really need.Also I don’t know if this oh Errol thing is just a side project but get busy girls there should be weekly blogs,daily twitter,daily activity on Facebook.Try and lose the whole drinking,free spirited,flirtatious attiude.Have you ever seen a famous female sports media personality acting like that.Trust me on this once you get a GOOD manager thats when things really start moving forward.

  • sassyneill

    again, it’s sweet that you care but you’re a way off on most of the things you assume – errol is something we did for fun not money, and the fact that it’s weird, free-spirited drunk and flirtatious is probably why people liked it.

    aren’t there enough boring opinion blogs online already?

    we’ve met a lot of amazing friends just by being ourselves and being different.meanwhile if australia accepts someone like matt johns playing reg reagan it’s more than a little close-minded to say that women have to be serious all the time to be part of the media or part of aussie sport. one day, hopefully, what you say about women will be considered as old-fashioned and as much of a double standard as we believe it is.again, good luck to you. I do appreciate that you took the effort to comment, even if I do not in anyway appreciate some of the comments I’ve deleted on this post.

  • Nugget

    Thats actually a really good reply.