Sunday, September 05, 2004

Power v Cats

I went to Footy Park to watch the footy this afternoon. It seems injust, to me, that I am talking about Australian Rules Football for two posts in a row when I never talked about touring Soweto or Table Mountain or the shows I saw in Edinburgh or so much else. But here I am and tomorrow morning I leave at 6:30 for Alice Springs, so let me tell you what's current. First, the good news, if you are a South Australian: Port Power won, by a whopping 112 to 62. The Geelong Cats, a proud Melbourne team (and in Ozzy Rules if you're not a Melbourne team you're risible) will be licking their wounds for a while. Port moves on to the semi-finals. What am I talking about? Australian Rules Football is a game (so says the AFL website), with two teams, the object of which is to win by earning the most points. Are you getting the picture? There are around 18 men from each team on the field, plus some officials and waterboys, but I don't think anyone really bothers counting. They all vie for an oval-shaped ball on an oval-shaped playing area. It also involves some other subtleties. I spent about three hours soaking it up this arvo (Ozzy for afternoon), sitting in the warm Spring sun surrounded by good-natured supporters of both sides, and this is what I've gathered. If the ball is propelled between the sticks at the end of the oval, points are handed out. It may be six points, or it may be just one. It depends. Also, if someone touches the ball first it doesn't count. You have to kick the ball if you have it, unless you punch it, or unless someone punches you first, in which case you can fall down and wait for the crowd to clear and then get up and run again. But you have to bounce the ball - which doesn't look easy - if you're running a little ways. I'm not clear on how far exactly, but a ways. It's kind of like basketball in that way, but it's also somewhat like rugby but not really, and a little like American football, without the protective equipment, and a lot like lacrosse, but with no sticks. You're not allowed to have beer in the stands, so you have to chug your pint in the 6-minute intervals between quarters. You have to wear a scarf with the name of your team on it. If a player on the team which is not your team does something you don't like, for example scores a goal, an appropriate thing to do might be to yell, "Hey 21, you're a poofter! Get a haircut, ya faggot!" - you can ignore that some of the players on your team have long hair too, but only if you are in your home stadium. Encourage your 10-year-old son to yell things too, such as "Smash him!" At half-time, children of ages 5-12 are taken onto the field to really settle the score with miniature footy. And at the end of the game, once the local theme song has been played ("We've the power to win, and we'll never give in, until the flag is ours for the taking..."), as a supporter you must swarm on to the field to kick around your own football with your son, especially if it happens to be Southern Hemisphere Father's Day, so that you can win a TV. All in all, a pleasant and edifying arvo was had by all.


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