While up in Edinburgh for the Fringe I met a smashing bloke from Australia called Brett. He was a bit homesick and wanted to find some Aussie booze so we found an Aussie bar which, to his delight, was also playing an AFL match of his team: Richmond Tigers.
One reason I like doing this blog is that it makes me enthusiastic about doing stuff I’d never usually even contemplate. I’m about as far removed from being a sports fanatic as you can be, so normally if someone went ‘Do you fancy watching an AFL metch?’ my response would be ‘About as much as I’d enjoy sticking felt tip pens into my eye sockets and colouring in my brain’. However, my response this time was, ‘Oh great! I’ve never done this before, let’s grab a beer and settle down for it!’
AFL looks a bit like slightly effeminate rugby – it’s got a bladder-like ball and sticky-uppy goal things, but all the blokes taking part are terribly pretty and not one of them looks like they’ve had a club initiation involving paddles and carrots. The rules, as far as I can remember them, are like so (yes, it’s time for another list):
- The bloke holding the ball can run with it, but he has to bounce it on the ground every few seconds. I asked Brett what would happen if he didn’t, but apparently they’ve just got it drilled into them that they have to, so the refs never pull anyone up for not bouncing the ball enough.
- There are three goals. If you get the ball through the middle one you get 6 points. If you get it through either of the outer ones you one get 1 point, and if you hit the post or someone from the opposing team touches the ball before it goes in you only get 1 point as well.
- If you catch the ball properly and don’t bugger it up or drop it and look like a tit you get a free kick that the opposing team can’t interfere with, or you can just carry on running with the thing. If you do manage to bugger up the catch somehow everyone can pile onto the ball in a terribly polite version of rugby where nobody really gets hurt or ends up with too much brain damage.
I actually didn’t mind the game as we watched it. It was pretty easy to follow, even for a complete sports-klutz like me. Brett was happy too as Richmond Tigers – his team – were beating the Essendon Bombers, something which apparently doesn’t happen all that often. He remained quietly confident that they would lose despite their early advantage, and was pleasantly surprised when in fact they won. I maintain that it was because I was there. I am a natural winner after all (just don’t ever ask me to do anything on the spot to prove this).