SIX SEASONS into their shared AFLW existence, Geelong and Melbourne will finally play against each other in 2023.
Fixtured as the only Thursday night game of the season, to open round five, the Cats will test themselves against inaugural side Melbourne for the first time after 1700 days in the competition.
Two of the oldest sporting clubs in Australia, the men's teams have been playing one another since September 1860 across various competitions. To date they have played 224 times in the V/AFL, including nine finals.
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In recent years they have developed a modern-day rivalry. They have played out some significant, finals-shaping games, none more memorable than their round 23 game in 2021.
Playing off for the minor premiership, Geelong got out to a 44-point lead in the third quarter before Melbourne mowed it down to snatch victory with a Max Gawn kick after the siren.
Now the AFLW programs finally have the opportunity to add a new chapter to the connection between the clubs.
Their AFLW journeys can't have been more different. Melbourne, one of the inaugural eight teams, has consistently been one of the best teams in the competition, winning more games than any other side. Now, fresh off its first premiership and armed with all but one of its premiership players, the Demons are on a mission to become the first team to go back-to-back.
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Geelong, however, started with a bit of a stutter. Making finals in its first season by virtue of the short-lived conference system, the Cats have essentially had to start afresh under current coach Dan Lowther, but are now one of the big improvers in the competition.
Despite coming at the 2023 season from wildly different perspectives, the sides are linked not only through the history of their men's programs, but in personnel shared over the last five years.
Eleven players have donned both the red V and hoops. Marquee Demon Melissa Hickey moved south to become the inaugural Geelong captain. Anna Teague made the move at the same time, and now serves as an assistant coach in the Cats' VFLW program.
Erin Hoare started her footy career at Melbourne before heading to the Cats, and most recently re-joined the side via the no.1 pick in April.
Currently Chantel Emonson, Jackie Parry and Shelley Scott are important parts of the Cats' resurgence, while Olivia Purcell and Jordan Ivey are at the Demons.
Off the field, heart-and-soul Demon Daisy Pearce now wears a Geelong polo after taking up a role within the Cats' AFL coaching panel mere months after leading Melbourne to its first premiership.
Meanwhile, premiership Demon Lily Mithen is the one that got away for the Cats.
Conversation swirled when Geelong was entering the AFLW in 2019 around where Mithen's allegiances laid. Just a year earlier Mithen had won the Cats' VFLW best and fairest after growing up in the area but ultimately Mithen stuck with the Demons.
But now the rivalry that never was will take to the field for the first time, writing a fresh chapter in the history book.