My Ode to AFL

For my lovely blog readers who are not from Australia, you may be wondering what on earth that video I posted yesterday was all about. Or what are the events leading up to a group of burly gentlemen standing in a circle singing (I use that term loosely) an old show tune and throwing around powerade.

Allow me to explain a few things about a sport I love, Australian Rules Football.

Apart from being one of the greatest sporting codes in the world (cricket is a close second, nearly equal first), it has it’s own set of quirks which I think make it pretty special, which aren’t found in a lot of other sports.

The Banner
Slogans are chosen and thought up, and each week the cheer squad will craft together a banner from sticky tape and crepe paper.
Then all of that hard work is promptly destroyed by the players running through it before the game.
Last year I was part of the crew to hold up the banner which was really awesome, but it’s a pretty strange tradition.
Here’s a video celebrating a players 100 games achievement.

The Crowd
With the record crowd numbers up at the 100 thousand marks, the crowds can be deafening.
But we don’t have set cheers, or songs to chant.
The only thing close to a coherent cheer is when the crowd come together to yell “ball!!” in an attempt to convince the umpire to pay a ‘holding the ball’ free kick.

This phenomenon even happens in pubs where yelling is very unlikely to influence an umpires decision, but we like to think we can try.

We also yell out players names like “Breust” and “Dew” so it sounds like we’re booing our own team.

The Point For Trying
You get six points for kicking the ball through the two big sticks, and 1 point if you hit the post or get it through the shorter sticks.

If we gave out points for difficulty, some of these would be more than 6 points.

The Human Step Ladder

When you don’t have quite enough players to go out and play a full game, it usually turns into step ladder practice or ‘king of the pack’, where one person kicks the ball to everyone else and they all try to catch it.
Kind of like the bouquet toss at a wedding.

Invariably someone will try and emulate the boys on TV and try and use a smaller kid as a step ladder.
The video explains the high flying mark, and why Mum’s everywhere don’t want their kids playing AFL.

The Song
After the burly gentlemen have run through crepe paper, had the crowd pretend to be expert umpires, been given points for trying, and used each other as step ladders, one team wins and one team loses. (Except if it’s a drawn grand final when we come back and play the following week. Seriously that happened once.)
After one team wins they all stand in a circle and sing a song. (See yesterday’s post.)
Each club has a song, and which songs are good and bad is a subject best left for Internet comment sections and arguments with strangers in pubs.
I (unsurprisingly) love my team’s song. I think it’s perfect for pub singing and fist pumping.

These are just some of the reasons I love Australia’s game. I plan social engagements around football games, will share a football opinion with anyone who listens, and I will judge you on what your football team is.

And just in case you think that this all sounds a bit namby pamby, I’ll leave you with a video which demonstrates just how tough these guys are (and without any padding, shin guards, or even cups!)

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