Racheal Quigley and West Adelaide may only be a union in its infancy, but it is one that is bearing fruits for both sides.
Hellas has only lost one match in all competitions in 2022, while its experienced striker is by far and away South Australia’s top scorer with 39 goals in both League and Cup competitions.
When meeting with West Adelaide as a free agent returning from Victoria, Quigley’s decision was made when she was asked a question by the club that she had not been previously asked by any of the organizations she represented in her illustrious career.
“I think what I really liked about the club is when I sat down and talked to them, they were trying to find out what they could do away from football to get the best of me in football,” Quigley shared with The Inner Sanctum.
“A lot of clubs throw around money or other promises but for Westies, it was about if they could make me a better person and then player and it really happened this year.
“I think asking that to each of the players there shows that they’ve got the right sort of culture and the right group together.”
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What made Quigley’s decision even easier was who was in charge of West Adelaide. Coach Tracey Jenkins is extremely familiar with Quigley, having first coached her at state level as a 14-year-old player.
Quigley admits that Jenkins is a coach she tends to gravitate towards, and that is a fact made clear when taking a look at her résumé. The two having crossed paths at state level, Adelaide Uni, Salisbury Inter, and now at West Adelaide.
‘I think any club Tracey is at, she will continue to try and build it into a powerhouse club,” Quigley said.
“I really like that about Tracey and I really believe she is one of the best coaches that I’ve been lucky enough to play under quite a few times.
“There’s something about Tracey that always has me attracted to going to play for her, the energy she puts off and the culture she creates.’
West Adelaide may have secured the Cup and the Premiership while only tasting defeat once, but that loss came at the hands of Grand Final opponents Adelaide City.
Hellas has gone on to defeat City in the following three encounters, but the matches have not been as flattering as the results suggest.
City does not go down often, but when it does, it goes down swinging. Despite West Adelaide getting the better of its rival in the past few encounters, Adelaide City has controlled the game for significant periods and has been unlucky not to convert that dominance, a fact that Hellas has duly punished it for.
Quigley’s career has coincided with the Black and White side of town dominating. Despite never representing Adelaide City herself, she appreciates what the club has done for South Australian women’s football.
“They’ve produced quality players and have kept those players and now they are producing even more. I think the culture they’ve built at that club is terrifying to play against!” she said.
“Even this year, not that we got lucky, but it’s a battle. Every time we play them you can’t pick who is going to win.
“I think any time that it rocks up and plays its best football knows it can take it and I think it’s going to be the same for this Grand Final.”
When looking at Angelo Paul’s side, Quigley suggests that it is City’s midfield that her team must quell in order to claim the final piece in West Adelaide’s 2022 crown, the WNPL SA Championship.
“They’ve definitely got their key players, one being Dylan Holmes, you saw the last game they played to make the Grand Final they were on fire, they scored six goals against Inter which is no easy feat,” she said.
“I think Dylan is their engine, her and Ali [Atkins] in that midfield. If they can get on top of the game that could be a real challenge for us.”
Quigley may have made the competition look easy at times this year, but she acknowledges that without the excellence of her teammates, her season would have played out quite differently.
“This year I really did do my job, any time the ball was at my feet I put it in the goal, but for my teammates to get the ball to my feet, that’s the hardest challenge,” she said.
“Kudos to my teammates because I would genuinely not be having the season that I am without them.”
Despite an impressive career that saw her represent Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory, as well as stints in the United States and South Korea, Quigley has not yet tasted the success of a treble.
In fact, she has not won a South Australian Championship title since her Fulham days in 2007, but first and foremost she is delighted for her long-suffering teammates.
“For the club itself and for the girls that have been here for a long time, Nicole Tilley [Blackett], Georgia Macri, I couldn’t even tell you how many years it’s been that they’ve made it into finals and not quite had it at the end,” she said.
“If we took it this year there might be tears! It is also really special for Maddie DuRieu who has announced she is retiring at the end of this season, so that becomes even more special.
“It’s going to be a really beautiful moment if we can take it out.”
When the two sides meet for the fifth time in 2022, one must win and come away with the Championship.
But with the competition getting bigger and better every year and a Women’s World Cup in our country around the corner, making the sport more accessible to girls and women in Australia is well and truly the focus.
Quigley can attest to the struggle young girls have to go through to cut it in the women’s game. She had to play for a boys’ team growing up, as well as for little to no money during her career, even at the A-League Women level.
“It is huge, with the World Cup coming up, I wish I was ten years younger!” she said.
“I think the sport, especially the women’s side, has been a really slow build. It’s just over ten years of the A-League Women, it took ten years to even bring in a CBA that guaranteed a minimum wage!”
Representation is crucial, and many of the players that feature on Friday’s Grand Final will go on to represent Adelaide United in the coming months.
Girls growing up today will have something Quigley did not have when she was their age: a relatable idol to look up to.
“I grew up wanting to be the world’s best woman soccer player, but when I was younger there didn’t seem to be any pathway, it was all kind of built as I grew up,” she reflected.
“I think it is important we start putting money into the girls’ development from a young age, we can create more Sam Kerrs, we can create more Ellie Carpenters, but without the funding, it does become really hard.”
Whichever way the Grand Final goes, both West Adelaide and Adelaide City are great ambassadors and developers of the women’s game in South Australia, and will undoubtedly put on a show like they have done all year.
It is crucial that Australian football is prepared to accommodate the rising interest the World Cup creates in order to consolidate the legacy of the event while creating a brighter future for the next generation.
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