The Aussie footy (Australian Rules Football) season has been in full swing for several weeks now. We made it out for our first pro footy game a few weeks ago – the West Coast Eagles vs. the Melbourne Demons. A colleague of my husband’s was kind enough to lend us season tickets for a game. I guess this is old news for fans of the sport. Still, I thought it might be fun to post some pics.
Footy in Australia is about on par with American football or hockey in Canada. It’s big. We had to squeeze onto a train packed full to the doors with yellow and blue garbed fans to get to the stadium in Subiaco (just east of downtown Perth).
I believe it’s considered a winter sport, but as I’m still relatively new to the climate here I think it’s hilarious that the team uniforms consist of shorts and sleeveless shirts. Only in Australia…or someplace equally warm. I’m trying to picture American football players running around in similar clothing in below freezing conditions and I just can’t.
The crowd, for the most part, was fantastic (there was an obnoxious drunk guy cheering for the opposing team a few rows behind us). I was impressed by how the fans interacted with the game as a single organism. It was easy to tell from the response if something good or bad happened because everyone shouted and sighed in perfect unison.
Unlike the sports matches I’ve been to before each team also had a theme song that played as they first ran out onto the field, to which much of the crowd enthusiastically sang along. I was particularly distracted by the Melbourne tune, an adaptation of “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” You can check it out for yourself here. While I wasn’t the least bit offended, as an American it was too close to the original for me to take it seriously. You can also listen to the West Coast Eagles theme here.
I thought it particularly cool that the Eagles had a real, live eagle fly around the stadium just before game time. I didn’t see any real, live demons running around for the Melbourne team, but then again they weren’t the home team.
I noted a little preemptive pushing and shoving began before the game had even officially started. Later, when someone from the Melbourne team had the ball a woman behind me shouted, “Hit him!” And when he did, “Good boy!”
I’m hardly qualified to discuss the basic points of footy, let alone the finer ones, but I do know it constitutes a goal when the ball goes between the poles at the end of the oval. Maximum points if it makes it through the center two poles, and fewer points if it goes between a center pole and an outside pole (you can see all four poles on the far side of the oval in the picture at the top of this post).
I thought it was kind of odd that the crowd sighed a little dejected sigh when the ball went between the outer posts. I get that it’s not as exciting. Even so, it seems to me that points are points and something is better than nothing.
All in all it was a fun outing, and one I was glad to be able to participate in. It felt like a little initiation into Aussie culture. I’ve yet to commit my loyalties to any one team, but I think I’m beginning to see some of the allure in the sport.
Are any of you footy fans? What team do you root for?