Posted by Melissa Zheliba
19. Jan, 2015
Why does Melbourne love AFL so much? I don’t know, guys.
Admitting my inadequacies, I Googled the history of AFL to better understand the allure and went on a website that was not Wikipedia. Fun Facts; football originated in Melbourne to keep cricketers fit during off-season. Melbourne had all the initial teams and the AFL you enjoy today was formally known as the Victorian Football League until 1987 when Brisbane and West Coast wanted in. So actually it’s ours. Like, we invented it.
I may risk becoming ostracised and the target of death threats and hate mail (although if I happen to receive those things I would feel pretty legit), but it seems like there isn’t really much to football. I mean its not really much of a game of skill, per say. I mean, looking at it from a fish and chip shop TV while you wait for your dinner, it seems like this; Australian Rules Football, know how to hand ball, have a doodle, know how to cop a push and a shove, appear semi-cut in no sleeves, and get the ball in the big sticks.
I am for sure oversimplifying this, but that’s because I don’t even follow football. I am from Melbourne and I have been to maybe two games ever. I don’t know any of the teams, I don’t know what the draft is, wooden spoons are for cooking, and I would steer clear of marrying a real life footballer to avoid accompanying them to the Brownlow because ZZZZZs.
Due to the lack of sentiment and absence of romanticism imparted into those who grew up with football, I think I am an excellent candidate to analyse the infatuation Melbourne has for AFL. Ask any paying member of a football team and they will unblinkingly recite how football carries a legacy among players and spectators alike and fosters loyalty and mateship and courage and maybe something about pride like why not and it’s all probably true. I say probably because I don’t even know. Consequence of maybe 70% my upbringing and 30% my gender, I am excluded from the League elite and never had the opportunity to gain anything substantial out of the game because I never played it. But you know what, I’ve been drunk on every Grand Final Day since I was almost legal and find it legitimate and unremarkable when brawls on the same scale as historical religious wars break out between rival teams.
And here is where I feel like I nail it. Melbourne loves AFL because it was borne out of us. That’s why we have the biggest glorified footy oval and that’s why we get the Grand Final here every year. The competitiveness, fanaticism, and worshiping paraphernalia are the chicken and AFL is the egg. The real reason we have an undying love for the sport is because of the things you can’t get from any other outlet. Like yes all the things that football devotees say, but more significantly, all the things that hook the rest of us plebs. You are expected to yell obscene things at strangers at the football. Drive in the CBD at peak hour, you’ll see we go nuts for that. Beer, we go nuts for that. Day drinking, another one of our favoured pastimes. Melbourne has a killer live music scene and football has singing. That you are instant friends or enemies with someone because of the club they support and you don’t even mean it. You were just there wearing your friend’s scarf because you were cold. Footy is something else we can bet on. BETTING ON SHIT. WE MADE A PUBLIC HOLIDAY ABOUT IT. I think AFL is so fucking choice firstly, because players and officials are using it as a platform to slowly teach people how not to be racist and prejudice. Secondly, because it will unabashedly accept me as a spectator and fan after making this face K about the game for years and years.
As much as you or I might not care for the game or follow the competition, we are actually a football community. Go to a live game and you never have to feign interest. You might start off with your legs crossed and hands in your lap, but eventually it will get the better of you and you will be hurling insults and throwing tantrums despite yourself. Trust me.
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