From $500 a season to all-time records: Three interviews that link 15 years

WATCH: The first episode of A-Leagues All Access, season II: The Ripple Effect

A-Leagues All Access returns Thursday 19 October in a new, easy to consume short-form format. Visit every Thursday, 7.30pm AEDT, for a new episode. Season II starts, of course, with The Ripple Effect: a look at the impact of the Women’s World Cup on the Liberty A-League.

Everyone knows where they were when Cortnee Vine slotted the winning penalty in the longest penalty shootout in World Cup history.

Cortnee Vine knows exactly the moment she knew her world had changed forever.

“The funniest one was I walking down to grab my local coffee,” she recalled in the season premiere of A-Leagues All Access.

“Someone pulled over in their car and said: are you Cortnee Vine? 

“They got out and grabbed a photo.

“That was two days after coming back. 

“You see the numbers on the screen and you realise how many people saw that moment.” 

Vine, who signed on to remain with Sydney FC after winning the Championship last season, admits that penalty “changed my life”.

“I’ve been recognised, literally, everywhere,” she quips, in her affable, endearing style.

And adored, as well. 

Cortnee Vine of Sydney FC poses with fans.

Sydney FC fans waited in their thousands to grab an autograph, selfie, or even cuddle from their hero after their maiden win of the season, a 2-0 victory over Western Sydney in front of the biggest crowd in Australia for a standalone domestic women’s football game.

On Thursday, it was also revealed that Saturday night’s derby was the biggest ever audience for a Liberty A-League match on television, which was also #2 in its timeslot across the commercial multi-channels in women 16 to 39, and #4 in its timeslot across the commercial multi-channels.

The Ripple Effect.

“I felt I had been continually growing in this league and I wanted to be here part of the Ripple Effect post World Cup,” Vine enthused about her reason for resisting temptation to go abroad. 

“(We can) really encourage young girls to come watch; I was part of the World Cup team, on the world stage, in front of 80,000 people and I am playing in the A-League, domestically, and there is a pathway to the national team.” 

She continued: “I’ve got to see the Ripple Effect coming after it (the Women’s World Cup)

“It is just amazing to be able to inspire such a young generation coming through; that you can play on the world stage and people want to come to watch.” 

It hasn’t always been that way, of course. And while there is still much to do to continue to consolidate and capture the momentum of this moment, it is why last weekend was so significant, to so many, who had been on the road to this moment. 

“It was very different,” reflects Central Coast Mariners’ marquee Kyah Simon, who was part of the club’s inaugural set-up, following the Matildas’ 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign.  

“We were happy with a few hundred people back in the stands…we all still had full-time jobs, the pay was next to nothing. 

“My first W-League year I think I played for $500. 

The true desire and goal was to have a professional league where we could play against the best players in the country and hopefully (turn) it into something we can be proud of. 

Kyah Simon in 2008.

There was pride, in spades, in round one, where more fans came through the turnstile than ever before. 

The significance of this opportunity is not lost on Simon, reflecting on the World Cup, and her own personal connection to Cathy Freeman’s iconic win at the 2000 Olympics. 

“I had that moment as a nine-year-old… I think that it is an invaluable impact we as athletes can have on young boys and girls who come and watch us in the stadiums.

At the end of the day, they could be a future Matilda or Socceroo there in the stands that you don’t know about until you spend that time and that could be the time to help them share their dreams. 

And when they do live their dreams, Lydia Williams will have played a part in making it a more visible and achievable path. 

“For me it was always coming into the game leaving it in a better than when I started,” adds Williams, who is also Professional Footballers Australia Vice President.

“If that means I take a little bit more on my shoulders, making sure girls in the future…have it better, that is what I am going to do.”

Lydia Williams, left, in 2008