Sunday, April 28, 2013

Greater Western Sydney versus Gold Coast Suns

I'd been to a couple of AFL (Aussie Rules) games a few years ago - strangely in London at the Kennington Oval. I've got no memory of who was playing, I just know I met Rolf Harris there and he drew me a Rolf-a-roo!

Sport in Australia is strangely regional - Victoria and South Australia play AFL, Queensland and New South Wales rugby league and pockets of the country play rugby union. All states plays cricket in the summer. Football (soccer) still sadly tends to have fans based on racial backgrounds (mostly Greek and Italians) which stunts its growth and appeal and besides anyone who is good tends to go to play in Japan or Europe anyway. All sports are desperate to extend their reach, some of them doing more effectively than others.

They've been trying to promote ALF in Canberra (a rugby stronghold) and our 'local' team Greater Western Sydney (GWS) currently sit bottom of the league (called 'ladders' here). They play in orange kits too - it all seemed sadly familiar with what I was used to.

My friend Duncan had bought tickets for me and his father in law and so I went along to watch them getting soundly beaten in front of about 7,000 die hard fans.

It was lovely weather though and really nice sitting sunning ourselves in the open stand (it would have been a whole different experience in the rain and wind of the UK).

GWS are a new team, the 150 v 100 representing their naivity being only their 2nd season. AFL is a simple, but strangely complex game. Much of it is blood-and-thunder, no slow build ups and pass backs and 0-0 draws, but big  boots forward and great catching and jumping. All of the players are without exception strong chiseled sportsmen - mostly about 7 foot tall. The action is breathless and (even though I didn't understand a lot of the nuances) was fairly exciting.

The subdued crowd headed home with GWS still bottom of the ladder and likely to remain that way for some time.

The action (a long way away in this picture!) at Manuka Oval

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