REVIEW: Footy Fever
This post was first published as part of Brittany’s Catalyst blogging residency, ‘The Two Review’ with fellow student Alexandra McManus. The Two Review offered a unique double review of all things Melbourne. Below, however are just Brittany’s parts of the post.
Summary: A review of footy fever by people who really don’t know much about football but love the game anyway.
The Two Review: Footy Fever
Football, Footy, AFL (or whatever you call it) is a huge part of Melbourne’s culture, and knowledge of the game and the team you support is integral to fitting into the city. Don’t barrack for a team? You may as well not exist. The Two have had extremely different experiences with AFL – Ally was brought up as a die-hard Geelong Cats supporter, while Brittany was only introduced to it when she moved here from England.
Considering The Two’s teams – Hawthorn and Geelong – went head to head last night (Go Hawks!) and with the Grand Final just one week away, The Two decided it was high time to review Victoria’s Footy Fever and the worshipped game that is Australian Rules Football.
What’s in a game?
B: Before moving to Australia, I had never even heard of Australian Rules Football. The first person to ask me “What team do you barrack for?” received a blank look. What the hell did ‘barrack’ mean? Watching my first game, I was taken aback by two things. One: What aren’t they allowed to do with the ball? There was kicking, punching, throwing and bouncing – it seemed like such a mishmash of sports I was surprised they weren’t playing with tennis racquets too! Two: Why are their shorts so short? I was corrected early on about my pronunciation of ‘footy’ – pronounced more like ‘foody’ than the enunciated ‘foo-tea’ I was saying, and eventually worked out what ‘carn’ meant. Now as an Australian citizen, AFL ball owner and with a team to call my own, I actually find myself voluntarily watching the weekend games; the Brits would be throwing down their tea and scones in horror. I’m still clueless about most of the rules, but with the AFL app on my phone and a few players’ names committed to memory, I think I’ve put on a pretty good front so far.
B: When it comes to food at the footy, it remains the one place I can’t blend in as an Aussie. I hate beer and I just cannot stomach the meat pies. During my time not eating these steaming hot concoctions, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to observe the strange ways Aussies eat their beloved meat pies. Some bite straight into them (often burning their mouths in the process) while others cover the top in sauce, then scoop out the middle with a spoon as if they were eating soup from a bowl. So strange. The stadiums have increased the variety of food and drinks on offer, so there is something for everyone – but how many people do you see eating sushi at the footy? The atmosphere of the game is certainly impressive though. I’ve been to a few Premier League games in my time, so the crowds at many Rugby and A-League games I’ve attended in Melbourne don’t even compare. Come finals, important games or intense rivalries, the atmosphere and crowd at an AFL game is hard to beat.
B: If there’s one thing I’ve learnt during my time in Australia, it’s not to come between a man and his footy. I made the mistake of attempting to ask my boyfriend a question in the final minutes of last night’s game. He was deaf, dumb and blind to anything other than the footy players on the screen (and understandably so, it was a stressful last few minutes). I love the dedication of footy supporters – I always look out for the ones in face paint, with banners, jerseys, jackets, scarves, hats and jackets, and admire their passion. It really is a game that unites everyone no matter what age. Everyone is so friendly and there’s a great sense of camaraderie – providing you’re wearing the right colours of course.
B: Last night’s game is obviously a sore spot for The Two, and just one example of the intense rivalries rife in the AFL. Richmond and Carlton, Carlton and Collingwood, and Collingwood and Essendon are some of the biggest ones in the game. Blockbuster games that exploit these rivalries are the ones that attract the largest crowds and are often the best to watch, as the teams have a lot on the line. I do find it great however, that opposing teams can sit next to each other and there is rarely any great deal of violence. In many games in England, fans are seated in different locations and you’re not allowed to wear your team colours/shirts when you go to the pub afterwards.
The Grand Final
B: When you’re over the age of 18, a good Grand Final day usually only requires four things: mates, booze, meat and a giant TV. Of course, it always helps if it’s your team that wins the game! I remember my first Grand Final, in which my grandpa decided the final few minutes of the game would be a good time to call us from England, and my dad was certainly conflicted about whether to pick up the phone or just keep watching the game. In 2010, when St Kilda and Collingwood drew in the first Grand Final I was with six Germans on exchange; trying to explain what was going on was extremely difficult! With Hawthorn in the Grand Final, this year will be a big one. While it’s great to have your team in the Grand Final, with such a vested interest in the game it will certainly be a lot more stressful!
Verdict of AFL Footy Fever: 5 Auskicks
Melbourne certainly delivers! Team colours are proudly displayed in homes and shop windows – bring on the Grand Final!