"Football, meat pies,
Kangaroos and Holden Cars
|My Footy Heroes|
Australian Rules Football is not played internationally (at least not a high
level) nor is it even the
number one sport in two of our biggest states, NSW and Qld. However it is the
most popular of the various football codes played in Australia and is one of the most popular
sports overall in my country. And the best thing is that's its all ours -
Australia's definitive home grown sport. Like with most types of football,
Aussie footy inspires a maniacal fandom far beyond that inspired by most other
sports. Fans paint their faces, drive all day to attend a match in another state, yell themselves hoarse and hang
out to get players autographs after the game - or at least my Mum does. Check
out her Crows Page and see what I mean.
Its also the game that draws the biggest crowds - nearly 100,000 in the MCG on Grand
The 'G', Grand Final Day '98.
As with cricket I cannot even begin to convey on this page what football is truly all about and why its the greatest form of football in the world. However I will provide a few details. In fact when I was in the UK I developed a briefing called "A Pom's Guide to Aussie Rules" and even some of them got the gist of the game. So here goes.
Like cricket, footy is played on an oval. There are 18 players for each team on the ground at any one time and four players each on the bench. 15 of the players are more or less in set positions although this changes continuously throughout the game. 6 are in defence, 6 in attack and 3 across the centre however players can move anywhere on the ground and anyone can score. The other three players are the followers (ruck, ruck rover and rover) and these players are in the centre for the bounce of the ball which restarts play after every goal or every break. These players traditionally tend to follow the ball most of the time, hence their name.
Like any game, the object is to score (and no I don't mean with the fans
after the game but I am sure the two are related on many occasions!). The
scoring area looks something like this:
l l l l
If the ball is kicked between the two tall central posts its a goal which is worth six points. If you kick it to either side of this area but inside the smaller post you score one point. The one with the most points wins. Simple hey?
Maybe I should also talk a little about disposal of the ball. Once a player has the ball they can legally do three things with it:
1. Kick it
2. Handball it (hold it on the palm of one hand and punch it with the other)
3. Run and bounce it before doing either of the above.
If the ball is coming towards a player on the full from a kick and the player catches the ball, this is called a 'mark' which gives the player then gets a free kick (i.e. can't be tackled). Obviously this is very advantageous however if the player doesn't take a mark all is not lost. They can still grab and dispose of the ball however they can be tackled by and opponent. If this occurs and they don't dispose of the ball via either method 1 or 2 above, they are penalised as holding the ball. In fact the shout by the crowd of "Holding the ball" followed by the roar when the umpire gives the free (or 'Balllllll......yessssssss' as it is abbreviated) is one of the highlights of seeing the game live. Spectacular high marks (aka 'Speccies' or if their really good 'screamers') like the one pictured are another exciting part of the game.
But that's about as far as I can go in this intro. For more on the game check out the Rules of the game.
I support several footy teams at various levels of competition. The major league is the Australian Football League or AFL. In this national 16 side competition I support the Mighty Mighty Adelaide Crows Football Club. The Crows only came into the competition in 1991 as South Australia had its own strong league (see below) and was reluctant to be absorbed into what was until then primarily a Victorian Football League (grrrrr). In the past 10 seasons the Crows have gone from the new-boy jokes to being arguably the most hated team in the league - at least by the Victorians. And that's just great - it means they're scared of us. How did this happen? Well a lot of it had to do with the South Australian hatred of the Vics that preceded all this. I distinctly remember as a child chanting along with the crowd during an interstate game "2, 4, 6, the Vics are pricks". However the real killer came in 1997 when the complete underdog Crows came from behind to win the Premiership against St Kilda, a Victorian team. Yessssssss! To make matters worse, amid cries of "It was a fluke" from across the border, the boys did it again in 1998, again coming from behind to beat the red hot favourites North Melbourne. Back to back! Back to back! etc. Oh those were the days (pictured - Mum and I with the 1998 Cup). Unfortunately the past two seasons were fraught with injuries and not so good however the boys will be back in the hunt in 2001.
The Crows also have an arch rival, Port Power. This second SA team in the AFL was created from a team in the local SANFL competition, a team you either loved or hated. Most of us were on the hate side, hence when the team entered the league - instant rivalry. It sure makes for some interesting footy!
In the South Australian National Football League, SANFL my team since birth has been the Sturt Football Club, the Mighty Double Blues. It was inevitable that my brothers and I became Sturt supporters - we lived in the district, all our relatives (except Mum) were Blues supporters (she changed later) and Sturt won 5 in a row from 1966 to 1970 when I was a wee bairn. They delivered again in 1974, the first grand final I ever attended and the first at Adelaide's Football Park (now home of the Crows...and that other team). The best was still to come however when they thrashed the previously undefeated Port Adelaide (yeah them again) in the 1976 grand final in front of a still record (66,000+) Footy Park crowd. Since then things haven't been so great, with only two grand final appearances and no wins. Unfortunately the SANFL has now been completely overshadowed by the AFL however Sturt is still going strong, this year celebrating its 100th year anniversary.
This is just a long list at present. I'm hoping to write some more (and find some pictures) on these superstars at a later date.
Paul 'Baggy' Bagshaw - immortal Sturt captain. We are not worthy.
Rick 'Jumbo Prince' Davies - Sturt ruckman in my formative years and also later Sturt captain. Won the 76 Grand Final almost single-handedly with 21 kicks, 21 handballs, 21 hitouts and 15 marks
Peter 'Mots' Motley - Sturt and Carlton (AFL - pre-Crows era). The best player I ever saw play. His career was tragically cut short by a hit and run driver in his second season of AFL footy. He suffered severe brain damage and never played again.
Benny 'Baked Bean Head' Hart - An immaculate defender. All Australian in 1992, 1993 and 1999 and Adelaide Crows Club Champion in 1999 but my champion for many years. Kept us in the game in the first half v North Melbourne in the 1998 Grand Final, as I drunkenly told him later that night *blush*.
Picture from the AFL webpage
|The International Australian Football Council - yep there is one...and they're planning a world cup in 2002!!!|
|Point Me to Footy - a great links site|
|Dags Footy Site - very cool site with lots of info. It includes an Expat's Corner for those of us who are banish-ed.|
|Matt's CROWS page|
|Darren's Excellent Adventures - true life tale of a top AFL footballer who went to the NFL as a punter and became an all star. It also features a guide to American football.|
|My AFL webpage currently ranked amongst the most visited sites!|
|Footy Tipping software is available at this site just in case you're having problems picking a winner!|
|US Footy - the game's spreading to the unconverted!|
|Coneheads of the Adelaide Football Club - a site dedicated to the baldies of the Adelaide Football Club|
|An anti-football view, probably written by my cousin Catherine ;-)|
|Anti-Port Power Site - pretty average site but I LOVE the concept ;-)|
Copyright © Warriordoc 2000, 2001, 2002. All