Thursday, 24 September 2009

AFL Grand Final Week Countdown. Finals Day Minus 3: The Thrills!

Okay, it’s now just three days to go until AFL Grand Final Day – played on the last Saturday of very September at Melbourne’s great Cathedral of Sport called the MCG.

image002 Around 100,000 punters are likely to show up for the spectacle. They always do. 

Unlike the other codes,  crowd numbers at AFL games are always high – even for bottom of the table clashes between local clubs it’s not unusual to see 40-50,000 show up. 

Samoa v NZ And over the course of a season, around seven million fans show up to yell their teams home.

AFL clubs get more people to their training nights during the finals month than NRL clubs get to their games. And around the world it’s fastest growing team sport with competitions in 16 countries ( including  New Zealand), and internationals being played regularly between Pacific (left), European and North American countries ( a few of which I’ve played in myself). So why do more people show up for AFL games than any other? Simple: because they’re so frigging exciting to watch live.

Every game is a four-act drama of tension and excitement.  Each player spends all of those quarters trying to dominate his opponent, both mentally and physically. They take no quarter. Some players run nearly two-thirds of a marathon during a match – that’s running flat out – before heading out back to throw up from exhaustion. 

These guys are fit, they’re fast, they’re agile – and they have to be thinking on their feet all the time.

No wonder crowds get passionate – this is the strongest hardest, highest, fastest game on the planet:

They watch it for the goals.

They watch it for marks  that make All Black Cory Jane’s effort against the Wallabies look like a schoolboy’s.

They watch it for the big hits.

They watch it for the skill and agility.

They watch it for the tradition – this is one of the oldest codes of football on the planet.

And mostly, they watch it because it’s so damn thrilling!

Aussie Rules?  I’d like to see that.  :-)

Keep an eye out tomorrow night, when I’ll tell you about some the game’s great players.

6 comments:

  1. As much as I appreciate the athleticism and the sport of AFL – it’s the equivalent of watching a ‘gold-fish in a small plastic pond go round and round aimlessly’. It’s a sport that leads to nothing and I just can’t get excited about it – simply because it is played on a club basis with no international arena – the true test in any code. Before you say “you don’t understand” I played AFL here in Christchurch for a summer season about 12 years ago (a guy in my football team organised one of the four teams) so I know the rules and a brother of my mate was marketing manager of The Demons so I’ve been in their corporate box on more than a few occasions. Like watching and playing but could never become ingratiated simply because it’s got no presence outside Australia.

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  2. "Keep an eye out tomorrow night, when I’ll tell you about some the game’s great players."

    Oh, God.

    "They watch it .."

    .. because the bloody game goes on for a fortnight & they've forgotten how to get home.

    :)

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  3. I can appreciate the athletic
    endeavour in AFL and also the high
    skill levels. Unfortunately it
    is a game stuck in the bowels of
    Australia. It has no international
    profile and the average American,
    or continental would not know the
    game existed. It also is not
    played to any great extent in this country apart from a few minor
    competitions.

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  4. Well, fortunately it is a game you can now see played at the highest level every week on your TV -- wherever you are in the world -- so you've no excuses. :-)

    To find out where and when it's broadcast in your area head to www.afl.com.au>TV & Radio>Broadcast Guide>International.

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  5. ".. because the bloody game goes on for a fortnight & they've forgotten how to get home.

    Ah, you league fans have all the attention span of a hyperactive two-year old. :-)

    A good AFL game is a bit like a Wagner opera . . .

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