Wilson chasing fairytale WNBL championship finale

Spot the real Carly Wilson ahead of her final game in Canberra for the Capitals. They’re turning the game pink for her favourite colour. Photo: Karleen MinneyCarly Wilson is hoping her 15-year-old lucky charm can keep Canberra’s season alive on Thursday night as the WNBL veteran prepares for her final home-and-away game in the capital.

Win, lose or draw there will be tears from Wilson as a final appearance at Tuggeranong Stadium looms, with the guard sure to don her trademark pink socks against Adelaide Lightning.

After a poor performance while playing for Dandenong in 2002, a superstitious Wilson has worn the eye-catching socks in every WNBL game since.

Canberra are still in the race to host a semi-final, but only if they win their final two games of the season and Dandenong fall to Perth on Saturday.

“In the back of my head I know this could my last home game but either way I think I’m going to be a blubbering mess,” Wilson said.

A fairytale championship ending is still alive for the 361-game veteran after a superb win against Bendigo on Sunday.

“We’ve had a few lean years at the Caps so it’s really exciting to still be fighting in my final season with a really good chance to host a home final, which we haven’t done since 2010,” she said.

“The fans deserve it because the crowds this year have been phenomenal. I’ve played a lot of seasons in the WNBL and the Tuggeranong crowd this season has been really special. We feed off them.

“I’m hanging out for another championship, we won in such convincing fashion last Saturday and played so well, it brought back the belief that we can win the whole thing.”

The first 300 fans through the door at Tuggeranong Stadium on Thursday night will receive a Wilson face mask, with the club intent on sending the champion out in style.

“I’m a bit nervous to have 300 of my faces looking back at me but it’ll be a laugh and lots of fun,” Wilson said.

“In some ways I think, God it’s just basketball, and I’ve been running around all these years because I love it, but to see everyone put in so much effort is such an honour and really humbling.

“Being a Cap means everything to me, I’ve been here for so long, ridden the highs winning a championship and been bottom of the ladder, so I’ve been through everything here and it’s just made me a stronger person. I’m just so proud to wear the uniform, it’s just a privilege to be a part of.”

Wilson, 34, said it was simply the right time to leave the game and is looking forward to enjoying a basketball-free summer for the first time in 20 years.

“I must admit when we were up by 30 points on Saturday and the crowd was cheering, I was having the time of my life and thought ‘you know what, I could do this for the next 20 years, this feels great’,” she said.

“But that ended pretty quickly after the game and at no point have I had any second thoughts.

“I’ll miss the relationships, that’s why you play, the bonds, all the really important people in my life I’ve met as a result of basketball. I could give back to the sport for the rest of my life but I’ll never be able to repay it.”

Wilson believes she is leaving the WNBL in a strong strong position as the women’s sport juggernaut continues to grow across Australia, but added the job isn’t finished yet.

“You look at how popular the AFLW has been and as a female athlete I couldn’t be prouder, but in reflection you look at it and think ‘we’ve been doing that for a number of years’,” Wilson said.

“We were the leader for women’s sport for so many years and now it’s probably time to ramp it up again and that starts with getting basketball back on TV.

“There’s still a ways to go in women’s sport, that’s just the way it is at the moment and it’s silly to say we’re equal with men because we’re not. We’ve just got to keep pushing and getting it out there.

“But we’ve done it for so many years without much money and without much coverage because that’s not why we do it, we do it because we love the sport, so we’ll keep going regardless.”


Thursday: Canberra Capitals v Adelaide Lightning, Tuggeranong Stadium, 7pm. Tickets at the door.

Saturday: Canberra Capitals v Townsville Fire at Townsville Stadium, 8pm.