Rugby League die-hard Daniel Boss describes the experience of watching a game of AFL live for the very first time. The game being described is the Round 15 clash between the GWS Giants and the Western Bulldogs in Canberra.
Having grown up in Orange, AFL was a sport that was never followed strongly. Sure, I did know it existed and I did pick a team, the mighty Richmond Tigers. However, I always thought that the game was not as tough as rugby league which is obviously my sport of choice. I always enjoyed paying out people who supported the game, referring to it as GayFL, Aerial Ping Pong and my favourite, Kick and Giggle.
It wasn’t until I went to university and became friends with a fair few AFL fans, as well as playing the game for Ursula Hall (side note: 1 win from 18 appearances), that I started to appreciate the game. I appreciate the fact that it requires a great amount of fitness and skill to be able to play. It is quite impressive how far they can kick the ball, given that I struggled to kick it 40 metres on the full. AFL players who I would play touch with always seemed to know where to be, which implies that AFL players require anticipation and timing to be successful.
Anyway, I got a message from my mate Trav, who asked me to come along with him. As he is coming with me to England at the end of the year and as the game was on a Saturday afternoon, I figured it was time to pop my AFL cherry (in terms of going to a game). I was also going along with my roommate Will and my former protégé Spence. Like me, Will is a massive league fan while Spence and Trav are AFL supporters, following Carlton and Adelaide respectively.
Before the game, we were having a couple of beers and BBQ lunch at Trav’s. To sum up the lack of luck I had been going through over the past couple of days, after calling Trav I attempted to end the call, only to drop it and break the screen. I also managed to forget to mention to Will that he had to buy a ticket as I thought we all had free tickets. On the way to finding our seats, we see that the GWS v Western Bulldogs game is for the Prime Minister’s Cup. After the events of the past couple of weeks, this name is quite ironic.
We decide to sit down on the grassy area as the sun was out and we were looking to get as much vitamin D as possible during this cold Canberra winter. This decision was slammed by Will, who was concerned about burning his horribly pale skin. Each team came out to their respective song. It was of general opinion that the Western Bulldogs song was just plain awful. The GWS song sounded like Eastern European Communist propaganda, which was just awesome. As a result (and also because I tipped them), I was supporting the Giants.
A Bulldogs supporter near us was quite vocal. Every time they would score, he would yell out ‘Go Doggies! Woof, woof!” He was also a very vocal supporter of some guy named Bob. The player he was referring to was Robert Murphy. If this guy is anything to go by, then Beau Ryan got his impersonation of Western Bulldogs supporters well and truly wrong. However, Spence was a very strong supporter of the former Blue Setanta O hAilpin. Before the game, his post-goal celebrations were talked up. As it turned out, he did score a goal in the first half, but the actual celebration did not live up to the hype, which was very disappointing. However, Spence’s reaction to the goal more than made up for that disappointment.
At one point during the second half, Adam Cooney had a possession and Spence accordingly yelled out ‘COOOOON’. The rest of us laughed as Spence was unaware of the association of that call. I decided to give Spence some comfort by saying that the Green Bay Packers have a similar call for fullback John Kuhn. Yes, I have yelled out that call at times too. Another player of interest was Will Minson, who Spence yelled abuse out at him. The reasoning was that he was offended by an incident from a season or two ago.
There was an incident on halftime and it involved a melee between the two sides. However, no punches were thrown. To be honest, I don’t see how it is worse than seeing two players get into a fight on the field. I still think it is a really bad look, yet you won’t hear anything regarding this.
At halftime, we decide to move into an area that is more protected against the freezing wind. As we make our way to the other side of the ground, I bumped into my friend from work, Larissa. We discussed the events of the previous day, which is somewhat related to my comment earlier regarding a bad past few days for yours truly. Further to this, I asked Trav to look up the score for the Richmond game, only to find them being flogged by North Melbourne. How does that happen?
We get to our new seats, to see the Giants wrestle back the lead. Part of the reason from this was due to a few shoddy kicks from ‘Bob’. And boy, did Trav and Spence let him know about how bad these kicks were.
One of the scorers during the third quarter was O hAilpin, which saw another entertaining celebration from Spence. Also, during the third quarter some kids were hitting each other with inflatable hammers that were given out and Trav, being all awesome and all, decided to tell these kids to sit down. We all laughed when they actually listened to him. After which, Trav told the kids to not worry about it and they resumed.
It was decided during the 3rd quarter that we would move back to the grass area as we saw more of the game from there. To our dismay, the aforementioned Bulldogs supporter was not there. We all assumed he was kicked out of the ground by this point. We decided to stand up for this half as it was too cold to sit down. Just around us, there was another group of kids playing around. At one point, the purpose of the game must have been to kick the ball at me as it came close on multiple occasions and on one occasion all of the kids pointed at me and started boo-ing. It was at this point that Trav said to me: “It can only get better from here”. If only I had a dollar for every time I have heard that. Following the boo-ing came 5 minutes of discussion of where my life went wrong and what is still wrong with it. Yes, I have officially become a laughing stock.
The Bulldogs ended up winning the game by less than a goal. The action on the field never reached any great heights, but that was expected. As a result, the crappy Bulldogs song was played repeatedly, so we couldn’t get out of the ground quick enough. I know I may have described some of my best mates as bullies but they are really good guys and I had a great time at the game. I’m hoping the spectacle at the next game will be much greater as I am planning a trip to the ‘G for a Richmond game next season.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article and are not those of Blindside Sport.