QAFLW Preview – Wilston Grange

By Daniel Viles 

Wilston Grange will take the field in the 2023 Bond University QAFLW as representatives of a club transformed after a winless 2022 season.
A thorough review of the club has resulted in the women’s program finally benefiting from the facilities and coaching knowledge long enjoyed by the men’s program at iiNergy Oval. This situation was longed for by previous coaches Barry Standfield and Mark Wilkin, and is now available to an understandably enthusiastic new coach, Brenton Meddings.
“We’ve been given a lot of support from the club and it’s like-for-like what the men are doing. We’ve got access to all the same equipment, same training, which has been a really good influence on the group. It’s an amazing facility. To come in and do what I get to do in such a great environment is nothing short of incredible.”
Meddings, better known as ‘Bluey’, is no stranger to the Bond University QAFLW having been an assistant coach at Yeronga South Brisbane during their premierships in the early 2010s. With that experience of a successful team culture, he was pleased with what he saw at the Gorillas.
“When we started pre-Christmas training, it was very interesting to me how the girls were coming in droves. After a few seasons of struggling getting wins on the board, the culture could have gone one of two ways: they could dig in and galvanise and grow; or they lose their interest and move elsewhere. But right from the start, we had a lot of people keen to get in and get the job done.”
One unintended consequence of mending the culture at Wilston Grange was that three pre-Christmas arrivals from crosstown rivals Coorparoo, namely Megan Boscoe, Emma Gibson and Ashley Moloney, swelled to ten by March, including young stars Caitlyn Rawding and Kalista-Jayne Shiner.
While the Gorillas are at pains to say that there was no active recruitment involved, the result is a major strengthening of their backline which Meddings believes will help the development of their younger defenders.
“I’m really excited to see players like Daisy Carter and Annabel Pettigrew have a breakout year. If ‘Bellsy’ (Pettigrew) rolls through the backline and has Chloe Litherland, Emma Gibson, Megan Boscoe teaching her and being that support, it’s going to be sensational for these players to learn.”
Perhaps one attraction for those crossing the river was the similar philosophies of the two head coaches, Meddings and Rebecca Randazzo, treating the footballer as part of the whole person.
“We like to break up the football into four categories: the physical; technical; tactical; and psychological elements of the game. If we’re getting most of those areas right, it creates a harmonious footballer and a harmonious person. Once everyone is feeling that, we can all galvanise together. Making sure that we’re looking at the player holistically has been really important to me.”
Meddings doesn’t shy away from wanting the team to taste victory, but the greater victory may be to stop the player drain that has plagued the club for reasons other than lack of success since its 2018 premiership.
“Success for us is going to be retention. If we can keep a lot of our playing list, coaching list going through again, that’s a massive plus because it means that we’re providing a good, fun learning environment and a place where people feel they can grow.”
“If we get three to five wins for this year, I think that will be a really good mark. Then maybe six to eight wins the following year, but my focus is on sustainability.”
Nickname: Gorillas
Coach: Brenton Meddings
Captain: Chloe Litherland
Home Ground: iiNergy Oval (Hickey Park)
QAFLW Premierships: 2018
2022: 8th (0 wins, 14 losses; 11 goals scored, 142 goals conceded)
Charlize Anderson (Kedron, QFAW)
Megan Boscoe (Coorparoo)
Abbey Brokken (Coorparoo)
Naomi Celebre (Waratah, NT)
Gemma Donataccio (Old Scotch, Vic)
Emma Gibson (Coorparoo)
Alex Grace (Coorparoo)
Zimra Hussain (University of Queensland)
Ashley Moloney (Coorparoo)
Caitlyn Rawding (Coorparoo)
Kalista-Jayne Shiner (Coorparoo)
Jayme Winter (Coorparoo)

Kitty Adams
Reggie Bradshaw
Kristina Cartwright
Courtney Doran
Danielle Fenwick
Marissa Hayes
Tanna-Lai Hornung (Aspley)
Kate Horsham
Ruby Ker
Abbey McFarlane
Ellen Mizzi
Emma Neller
Holly O’Flaherty (Aspley)
Paige Schouw
Georgia Smith
Kitara Whap-Farrar (Pine Rivers, QFAW)
Chloe Litherland
Litherland assumes the Wilston Grange captaincy in 2023 after being the Gorillas’ standout player in 2022. The former USC Thunder netballer owned the centre halfback position with her high-quality overhead marking, fierce tackling and, eventually, her mere physical presence as opponents looked for easier paths to goal. Litherland was required to take her turn in the ruck and even on-ball in 2022, but new faces at the club should enable her to make a home as a defensive organiser and counter-attacking weapon.
Meddings says: “Chloe is very diligent in her preparations and she’s a great analyser of the game. She has tremendous respect from the whole Wilston Grange club.”
Keyshia Matenga
The Instagram post that announced Matenga as runner-up in the 2022 Wilston Grange Best and Fairest (five points behind Litherland) described her as “the human highlight reel”. While it’s true that Matenga is capable of passes, fake passes and changes of direction that make crowds sigh in unison, she is also more than prepared to fight hard for the ball and give a teammate an opportunity to make the highlights reel. And she can run. My goodness, can she run.
Meddings says: “Keyshia’s got wheels for days. She’s a great competitor and very silky so I love watching the ball get into her hands and seeing what she does with it.”
Lauren Shackleton
Shackleton has been the last line of defence for the Gorillas in recent years, frequently getting the better of one-on-one battles with opposition key forwards even when Wilston Grange was losing heavily. While ‘Loz’’s booming left boot can clear the defensive 50 with great effect, the arrival of new defenders at iiNergy Oval may allow Shackleton to venture forward this year. Making the goal umpires work in front of her instead of behind her would be a just reward for a great club stalwart.
Meddings says: “Lauren has been a great leader, really good with her voice and bringing the group together. She’s a great club person. If the room needs vacuuming, she’ll be the one vacuuming.”
Even during their heaviest defeats, opponents routinely lauded Wilston Grange for how hard they attacked the contest and disrupted their plans. The problem was that the Gorillas lacked the experience to know how to regroup when their opponents cleared. With the injection of experience at Gorilla HQ, there will be fewer holes to cover in defence, more turnovers created, and more frequent visits to the forward 50. So go watch Wilston Grange play because you just might see what they’ve been capable of all this time.

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