Sunday, April 17, 2005

Marks, Goals and Pies

In the end, I came home a somewhat dejected man Saturday night, though not as much as my friend and colleague who is a real Essendon supporter. It is quite another matter that I hardly understood the basic rules of the game, but once I put on Steve's Essendon Bombers' Red and Black jumper, I was somehow transformed into a Bombies' fan! My first 'Footy' game ended with the Bombers being trashed by the Geelong Cats, who at one point reeled off twelve consecutive goals. Essendon had the ignominy of sliding to the bottom of the AFL standings to boot, so all in all it was a pretty miserable night for them. Not being a passionate supporter helps in situations like this, and so I was able to take in some of the aspects of the game and the atmosphere of course. It was a well attended game with the Telstra Dome near capacity, and that's always good to see. After all, Aussie Rules Football or simply 'Footy', is the sport Victorians care most about. Everything else is secondary. I could see a sense of anticipation for the new season just as the cricket season was winding down and the Australian Open was long gone. Not that those two sports could compete with Footy for mindshare - this is the true mass spectator sport in this neck of the woods. The game itself is a mix of aspects from soccer, basketball and rugby. Or so it seemed to my untrained eye. The one thing that stands out in footy is the fitness of the players involved - this is a game where the players have to be great athletes. It is nevertheless a physical game - a man's game, as one might say and hard tackles and on-field bickerings are a pretty regular sight. And yes, I'm told it is a tradition to have a pie at a footy game - I missed that part. - NK

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