More than a game: Showdown's impact extends beyond four quarters

THE FIRST AFLW Showdown between Adelaide and Port Adelaide may have been decided in the first 10 minutes, but Friday night's clash was always going to be bigger than a round six home-and-away match.

For many years, the Showdown has been the centrepiece of the proud footballing state of South Australia, with legends told and heroes made in front of thousands of wildly passionate and parochial fans.

But for the first time, on a September night in 2022, half of the population had an opportunity to see themselves on the hallowed Adelaide Oval turf.

The iconic Adelaide scoreboard carried the slogan "herstory in the making" where the batters' scorecard would normally be.

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The Power and Crows clash in round six of the 2022 NAB AFL Women's Competition

Young girls were decked out in their Power and Crows colours, a few so small they brought their dolls with them, others with footballs in hand.

Women's community football teams of all ages came decked out in club jumpers, eager to witness a historic night in the state's sporting history.

The first and second tiers of the stadium were packed with 20,652 in attendance, coinciding with the first night of school holidays in the state, while the standing room on the hill was well populated on the balmy spring night.

An acknowledgement of some of the pioneers of women's sport in South Australia was made, featuring the likes of the state's lacrosse team from the 1980s and 90s and representatives from the 90s Adelaide Lightning basketball team.

Rachelle Martin (left) and Ella Boag compete for the ball during round six, season seven, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Port Adelaide officials Juliet Haslam (head of women's footy, formerly hockey) and Rachael Sporn (football operations, formerly basketball) were also called out for their contribution to women's sport in the state.

After a look to the past, there was a nod to the future, with young female sporting teams taking part in a walking lap around the stadium.

Former co-premiership skippers Erin Phillips (now in her new teal strip) and Chelsea Randall shared a hug at the toss of the coin, and then it was on for young and old.

Randall started the game on a mission to assert Adelaide's dominance, booting two quick goals and pulling at her jumper in fiery celebrations.

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Chelsea Randall receives the first AFLW Showdown medal in a brilliant performance

"She's very much been at the centre of everything we've done over the journey. This is kind of the next step, with a cross-town rivalry, so she was invested, as was probably displayed by the performance," Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke said.

"[The Showdown] was outstanding, the atmosphere was electric. Port Adelaide do an amazing job of their pre-game, so that just added to the theatre. I was really pleased with the way our players absorbed that, and enjoyed that, and then got to work.

"The atmosphere and the crowd – clearly we want to win the game, but the South Australian community got behind the game and the way it was presented. Clearly, we were fortunate with the weather, but it was a great night for footy, and everyone played their part in that."

Adelaide players celebrate winning the Showdown during round six, season seven, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Port Adelaide coach Lauren Arnell was disappointed in her side's performance in the 10-goal loss, but acknowledged the wider significance of the night.

"It speaks a lot to South Australian footy. I know there was a big celebration of women's sport and generations and generations of female sporting heroes in South Australia celebrated tonight," Arnell said.

"Over 20,000, I'm told, here tonight. It's an epic crowd and that's one part of the night, it's a huge celebration and something for both clubs to be proud of."