The crowd gathers with Ebony Marinoff to celebrate Adelaide’s grand final triumph. Picture: AAP/ Keryn Stevens.
The crowd gathers with Ebony Marinoff to celebrate Adelaide’s grand final triumph. Picture: AAP/ Keryn Stevens.

Record AFLW crowd hailed as historic football moment

It may well be a moment in history, according to Carlton coach Daniel Harford.

The record crowd of 53,034 at the AFL Women's grand final usurped the biggest crowd for a female sporting event in Australian history, blowing expectations for the decider out of the water.

And Harford - who "thought 25 (thousand) would be a good number" - said it could go down as a watershed moment for the game.

"It's a very special moment for the AFLW, and for footy in Australia, I reckon," he said.

"This might be … one of the most significant moments in Australian football history."

Carlton players come to terms with their side’s grand final loss to Adelaide. Picture: AAP Image/Kelly Barnes.
Carlton players come to terms with their side’s grand final loss to Adelaide. Picture: AAP Image/Kelly Barnes.

Star Crow Erin Phillips was felled with what is feared to be a torn ACL in the third quarter of Adelaide's premiership win.

Harford said he was "really sad" for the 33-year-old, who later claimed best-on-ground honours and is likely to take home the league best and fairest medal on Tuesday night.

"She was clearly a pretty forceful player for them up until that point," he said.

Daniel Harford led Carlton to the grand final in his first season as coach.
Daniel Harford led Carlton to the grand final in his first season as coach.

"And she's an icon of Australian Rules football. Full stop. So for that to happen, I was really sad about that, that she wasn't able to finish the game as she would have liked … that was a really sad moment, but I think the way the crowd responded when she came back and then when she won the medal, that was a lovely moment for footy, I reckon.

"She's an iconic player. I hope everything goes well for her and she's able to get back and do what she wants to do and needs to do, but that was a really sad moment for the game, I reckon."

The structure of AFL Women's will be reviewed in coming weeks with the competition committee set to consider the conference system and other elements.

Crows players celebrate their success with the record grand final crowd at Adelaide Oval.
Crows players celebrate their success with the record grand final crowd at Adelaide Oval.

There have been detractors, which Harford said he simply could not understand.

"I can't for the life of me why there's people who think this is a bad thing or not something to enjoy to be a part of," he said.

"I just can't get my head around that … I think Australian Rules footy is the greatest game in the world. And there's 53,000 people that would agree with me today. So why wouldn't you be excited to celebrate the opportunity for the entire population to have the opportunity to be a part of something like this? I just can't get it through my head.

"I know there's not a lot of time - the sporting calendar is quite congested. And I know you can't prioritise everything.

"But why you wouldn't enjoy the opportunity for half the population that hasn't previously been able to, to be a part of this, with the resources, with the facilities, with the juggernaut that is the AFL behind it, how that could ever be a bad thing is beyond me."