Saturday, August 16, 2014

Giants v Kangaroos

I was lucky enough to win two tickets to the Aussie Rules (AFL) game at Manuka Oval through the wonderful folk at VisitCanberra and so decided to take Eli along for his first experience of sport played in front of a big stadium of people.

The 'home' side GWS Giants play three games a season in Canberra and this time they were pitched against North Melbourne (Kangaroos). GWS Giants are newcomers to the Australian Football League whereas the Kangaroos are one of the oldest (having been formed in 1869). What that means in practical terms is that the Kangaroos are an established team (having had a golden period in the 1960s) whereas the Giants are just really finding their way. The Giants have a young squad and are tipped to develop into something big in four or five years time whereas the Kangaroos are already there.

We had great seats and despite being winter the weather was a sunny and warm 14 degrees. The match kicked off and Eli (rightly so) started asking me what was going on. I think this was the third or fourth AFL game I'd been to but to be honest I'm still a bit sketchy on the rules. I turned to the chap next to me for help but he said he'd not been to an AFL game before but luckily the lady to my left shared a few more detailed pointers.

As all AFL games the match was pretty hectic. There's no slow build ups as in football and scoring is quick and frequent. Whether you love or loathe the game it's hard not to be impressed with the stamina and general fitness of the players. The sport requires you to not only run, but catch, jump and push(!) competently. I've found friends brought up on AFL are always the most vocal critics when watching football(soccer) when a player dives 10 feet along the ground because they've been nudged by the opposition, there's no time for that in AFL. I guess the main reason is that when teams score 150 points there's less advantage to be had than by a theatrical dive in the box to secure a vital 1-0 win in football(soccer).

The game is also looooong. Four quarters of 30 minutes obviously with a break between quarters. I'd thought we'd last till half time before Eli would get bored, but he was transfixed and watched almost the whole match which was great.

The Kangaroos were well ahead after the first quarter but the Giants fought back to trail by only a handful of points at half time. Eli and I took a wander round the ground (Eli got freaked out by G-Man - the HUGE Giants mascot) and by the time we returned to our seats the Kangaroos had scored several goals to lead the 3rd quarter significantly.

The match finished 126 v 51 so pretty much a walk-over, but it was still good fun to watch. Eli tried to switch support towards the end when he saw which way the game was going, but I reminded him he had to stay loyal to his team as they might win next time.

I guess a lifetime of watching some of the dross served up at the Molinuex had taught me that.

Everyone loves a thunderstick! 
having a kick around at half time

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