Over the years of photographing Melbourne derbies, Rachel Bach (@Bythewhiteline) has learnt to expect the unexpected. For KEEPUP, she reflects on five of her favourite memories captured from each season that she has photographed the league.
Form seems to matter little in these hard-fought battles. Time and time again, we’ve seen these exciting matches deliver special moments.
An hour into photographing my first Melbourne derby, scores were level. The contest was tense – there had been goal-saving tackles at both ends.
Jess Fishlock broke the deadlock, and ended the match with a brace.
She was simply unstoppable in that second half. It was the first time a player in the league celebrated towards where I was sitting, and I’ll never forget that. In those moments, you feel the adrenaline rush – but have to remain calm in order to capture it correctly.
It’s impossible to predict where or how a player will celebrate, so
whilst there’s an element of luck involved, you also have to pay close attention. Everything moves so quickly – if you miss it, it’s gone.
The derby atmosphere certainly added to the thrill on that day.
One of the first memories that comes to mind when thinking about Melbourne derbies is Melina Ayres’ spectacular goal in 2018. She won the ball 40m out from goal, took two steps and fired a long-range shot that dipped into the corner.
It was ‘stacks on’ to celebrate one of the most exciting moments ever produced in a derby.
I remember watching the tackle that won Ayres the ball, and seeing how quickly her leg swung back to take the shot.
I followed the ball, and as it got closer to the goal I quickly shifted back to her.
At times it can be hard to know where to focus; but being able to anticipate players’ moves helps.
Having watched Ayres play for years in Victoria, I knew her audacious attempt could easily land in the back of the net.
We saw late drama in the derby in the 18/19 season, when Victory snatched defeat in the dying minutes of the game. Christine Nairn scored in spectacular fashion – curling her corner straight into the back of the net.
I kept my camera pointed towards her from that moment on, ready to capture the celebrations at full-time.
There have been many talented international players in the league, and Nairn was a standout during her time in Australia.
Her ability when it came to set pieces was superb, and this was a prime example.
It was certainly a unique moment to capture, and a thrilling finish to a derby.
Beyond the goals and celebrations, some of my favourite derby moments have come after the final whistle.
After a 4-0 loss for Victory in the 20/21 season, I watched as a dejected Laura Brock crouched down, away from everyone. Close friend and Matildas teammate Aivi Luik was the first to go over to console her, instead of celebrating her team’s win.
When it comes to the harder moments, I think carefully about how I capture them.
The last thing a player wants at a time like that is a camera shoved in their face, so I keep my distance. Whilst the sporting environment is often seen as tough, it’s also full of emotions. I think it’s important to capture that, and to show the human side of the game.
In the first derby of the 20/21 season, City were on the end of a 6-0 thrashing from Victory.
An incredible turnaround for the second derby saw City win it in the 86th minute.
The emotion on the faces of Harriet Withers and Alex Chidiac after the winning goal said it all.
Both Withers and Chidiac have crossed over to Victory this season, so we could see them combine again – albeit in a different shade of blue.
Melbourne derbies have produced some of the most exhilarating moments in league history.
For me, capturing the emotion is key to telling the story of the match. Whether it’s the highs or the lows, we’ll soon find out what the next edition will deliver.