WHAT IT WAS WAS AUSSIE RULES FOOTBALL
The U.S. has the Super Bowl. Australia has the Australian Football League finals.
Today was "footy day."
Nothing really had been planned. Well, nothing complicated. A guy was coming to fix the shower door "sometime before 12 o'clock" and then we would sit and watch the playoffs...and then we would have dinner at Janne and Chris' house.
Except for dinner, it didn't quite happen that way.
First of all, Peggy left me home to let the shower repair guy in so she could go grocery shopping. But he didn't come. By 11:45, she was on the phone to discover that the appointment never got on the books and he wasn't coming at all. He is now scheduled to be here Tuesday, which will probably delay our trip down south a bit.
But that's OK, 'cause it was almost time for footy! Even before I left the States, I had been told that this day was sacrosanct. No matter what we were doing, no matter where we might be, we would be home in time to watch the championship game. We planned our trip up north with that in mind, as well as next week's trip down south. So here we were: footy day. We had our meat pies. I had begun to learn the rules of the game. We were ready to settle in for the afternoon.
Only the TV decided to go on the fritz. It's been turning itself off after a couple of hours, but this morning it decided to turn itself off every few minutes. Peggy couldn't figure out why.
She tore out of here to drive to Janne & Chris's house to make arrangements to watch the game there (they were going out). We packed up our meat pies and other stuff and headed over there, where we spent the afternoon watching Brisbane clobber Collingwood (sorry, Sue). Fortunately, we had decided to support Brisbane in their attempt to march into AFL history by becoming the first team to win three championships in a row. The 134-84 win was pretty decisive. (Go, Bears! yeah, I know they're Lions, but I put that in there for Char)
Australian Rules Football is Australia's game. It was devised by one Tom Wills, his cousin H.C.A. Harrison, W.J. Hammersley and J.B. Thompson in 1858. By 1866, rules had been formalized competition took place and they haven't turned back since.
To watch it for the first time is to experience total chaos. At times it looks like American football. At times it looks like volleyball. At times it looks like wrestling. At times it looks like soccer. All the time it looks like some guys who are making up the rules as they go along. The pace is fast and furious. There is no protective gear and bodies fly up into the air (and smash down onto the ground) with great regularity. This is no game for sissies.
I've now seen several games and am getting a teensy inkling of the rules and goals.
It's played on an oval playing field and there are goal posts similer to football, only there are four of them--two short and two tall (the taller are in the middle). If the ball goes through the tall posts, it's 6 points. If it hits the post or goes between the tall and the short posts, it's 1 point (at least I think that's the basic rule).
The game starts when the ball--which looks like a flattened football, and which must have the consistency of a greased pig, given how easily it slips out of everyone's hands--is bounced on the ground. Then people start chasing it around--they can kick it, throw it, lob it, hit it. There is very little stopping for time outs. There are 18 men on each team, so 36 on the field at all times, and no offensive and defensive lines. When you begin to see some sort of organization in this chaos, you realize it's quite a fascinating game.
The finals have some similarity to the Super Bowl, but it lacks the media hype. You don't pay a bazillion dollars for commercials and given the commercials that did air in the brief moments after a goal was made, ain't nobody gonna watch this show for the entertainment value of the commercials. In fact, most of them were not even poor network quality commercials.
There is a big whoop-dee-doo before the game, which was broadcast, but if there is a fancy schmancy half-time show, it doesn't get broadcast to the television viewing public (that's when we were eating our meat pies anyway).
Those (especially those in my family) who have watched my disinterest in most things sports for the last many years will probably be surprised to hear how much I enjoyed myself this afternoon. I'm kind of sorry the season is over. (But I'm glad Brisbane won...)
When the game was over, we considerately cleaned up Janne and Chris's house ('cause they were having company for tea, you know) and came home for a couple of hours until time to go back to Janne and Chris's house as their guests for tea. They had made an authentic Australian roast dinner (leg of lamb with all the trimmings) which was delicious.
It was a fun evening, the tone for which was set when Chris pointed out that she had spilled something on herself and Janne said "Oh, you pulled a 'Bev,' have you?"
Sigh. Long after I've gone, people in Australia will be talking about anybody who is sloppy or uncoordinated or a little bit odd as a "Bev."
Well, at least I'll be remembered here. I won't just be some generic "Sheila."
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