The reaction on Chelsea Blissett’s face said it all.
Red?!! Friday’s sending off for the Melbourne City defender was the first of the new W-League season and was quickly followed on Sunday by Sarah Carroll receiving her marching orders in Perth’s draw with Canberra.
But Blissett could be forgiven for forgetting what a red card looked like in the W-League, given the competition is – as a result of the weekend just gone – only now emerging from one of the best behaved runs in the competition’s history.
How so you ask? Didn’t Hannah Brewer get sent off with a straight red card in last season’s semi-final? While that is true, it was just the second red shown for the entire season, making Season 10 the best behaved on record.
While Season 7 also had just two red cards shown, the greater number of games in Season 10 gives it the edge as the one where the highest number of teams finished with the full compliment of players on the pitch.
There have been 45 red cards shown through the 10 and a bit seasons of W-League play, to 41 different players.
Brewer coincidentally is one of the four who have seen red twice in their career. The others being Sam Kerr (one with Sydney and one with Perth), Ella Mastrantonio (both while with Perth) and Ruth Blackburn (one with Adelaide and one with Brisbane).
The average number of red cards per season is 4.3, with Season 1 the worst behaved on record as six players were shown their marching orders – the same number as Season 8 but from fewer games played.
Laura Alleway holds the unwanted record of the fastest red card shown, in just the fifth minute of Brisbane’s 1-0 loss to Adelaide in Season 6. Newcastle’s Sophie Nenadovic is not far behind, subbed on in the 80th minute of Newcastle’s 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory in Season 8, Nenadovic saw red in the 87th.
While those two matches ended in defeat for the team down a player, there have been 12 instances where the side shown a red still went on to win – most emphatically Sydney’s 6-1 win against Canberra in Season 9 in spite of losing Alanna Kennedy.
The first ever player shown red in the W-League was Central Coast goalkeeper Lisa Hartley, red carded at McKellar Park as the Mariners beat Canberra United 2-1 in just the third week of competition.