K rock Football

Rocky pushes through uncertainty

Richelle Cranston is a finalist for the AFLW Goal of the Year award. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

RICHELLE Cranston was in the middle of training when her AFLW season ended.

Geelong was preparing as normal for their next game when they were informed the regular season would be cut short – and they’d missed a spot in the finals.

“We were in the middle of training when we were told we wouldn’t be playing that week,” Cranston told AAP.

“We were training really well, our vibe was really up and we were feeling really good and then (coach Paul Hood) called us all over and it was just like ‘this is it’ and it all finished.

“But we actually stayed out on the track and had some trick shots and games and it ended on a really positive note – in a way I think it was probably better that we were all together when we found out.

“Everyone’s health and safety is paramount at this stage, so you can’t be too upset about it.”

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Cranston, an explosive midfielder/forward on the field, normally works in fitness off it.

But with gyms closed down, she is – at least temporarily – out of work, and will have to consider her financial options.

In the meantime, Cranston has thrown herself into three training sessions a day, guided by Geelong, with only her partner Bec and their two dogs for company in their home gym in Belmont.

“I’m lucky Bec plays footy for the Cats’ VFL team so I’ve at least got a partner who can kick,” she said.

“Some of the other girls are finding their hubbies or partners aren’t that great at kicking – so I’m pretty lucky in that sense.”

Cranston tries not to think about whether she’ll be training in vain.

There has been uncertainty around what AFL clubs will look like when the men’s competition eventually resumes, given the financial burden of the coronavirus pandemic – and concerns AFLW programs could be among the first to face cuts.

“It’s in the back of my mind like ‘oh my god, we’ve come so far, so quickly and then it could just come crashing down,'” Cranston said.

“I don’t know what the state of AFLW is – if AFL’s in trouble, then surely we are?

“It is scary – and I think that’s probably one reason why I just want to keep my mind off it, get really fit and if we do come back, we’re even better.”

The standard of AFLW has improved out of sight since the first season in 2017, with a wave of younger players finding their way into the system, while others have benefited from increasingly professional conditions.

It means if the brakes are pumped on the competition’s growth, there’s a risk it could go backwards.

“It’s a little bit worrying but I have faith because it’s come so far and it has such a positive effect on young girls and even young boys – they don’t know any (different) now,” Cranston said.

“I hope they just keep going with it, because it’s a good thing.”

Meanwhile, former landscaper Cranston can’t help but smile at stories of male footballers picking up the tools during the AFL suspension – given their AFLW counterparts have long juggled football with part-time or full-time work.

“I find it really funny that they’re making such a big deal of it – like ‘oh they’re gonna have to get jobs,'” Cranston said.

“I’m like ‘mate, we do both. You’re just going out to get a job, you don’t have to do the night-time training and all this sort of stuff.’

“Welcome to the life of an AFLW player boys – but you’re still getting paid a lot more than us.”

(C) AAP 2020