I have a girly confession to make.
But I’m not a pervert. I’m just a Melbournian girly girl who just happens to be very crazy about blokes. Forget about Mel Gibson’s bum – that’s something my mum told me about some years ago, and when I saw the movie he went starkers in, I had to agree with her, Mel has a nice bum. Well lookie here. What a coincidence this is. Mel Gibson and Me, Myself and I; Mel, the Melbourne Girly Girl. And don’t you forget it.
The hunkiest blokes around will be found any given Sunday at our version of the Super Bowl. Its AFL’s Aussie Rules, girls. And it’s the most popular sport in Australia by far. If you’re from America, you call it NFL football. If you’re from Africa or America or anywhere in Asia, you call the beautiful game soccer. If you’re from the UK, you call it football or footie. Here, we call our game footie too. And we’ll argue with you until we’re blue in the face that our rough and tough Aussie Rules is a lot more beautiful than yours is.
Here the blokes dive for real. There’s no pussyfooting about, no fake dives or cry baby gestures. The blokes bash each other up for real. And while they’re tumbling over each other, sometimes as high as three or four feet in the air to grab that rugged ball, they knock each other to smithereens. If you’re a bloke in a squad and you come off the oval-shaped pitch without a blue eye or at least some bruises or scratches, you haven’t earned your lucrative keep.
These blokes are real hunks, on and off the pitch. They’re so nice to us girls, their uniforms have been specially tailored for our visual convenience. Their jumpers have no sleeves. This is on purpose so that we can gawk at their bulging biceps. Their shorts are extra short on purpose so that we can admire their fine stallion-like legs. They’re decent enough blokes too because they always remember to shave their legs before the big kickoff.
Some of them even shave under their arms. We know this for real because some of these Aussie Rules superstars are cover page issues on our favourite glossies. Look atwixt the pages of our favourite glossies, see them stripped down to the waist for our pleasure and you’ll see nary a hair on their well-waxed torsos. Gosh, it’s getting hot tonight. Outsiders, who at least follow sport, find the nation’s most popular sport quite odd.
Well, what can I say, we’re Australians. The game is played on a cricket oval. But there’s no pitch in the middle of the park, nor are there any wickets or stumps. The game has a pair of posts, much like those seen in a rugby match, on each side of the oval. Only these posts are slightly different. The goalposts have no crossbars. The ball that gets tossed about looks very similar to the one that is used in NFL football. And the players kick it from quite far out in between these posts, with no sticks in the middle, to score a goal.
And the ref? Well, not quite. He looks more like an old school cricket umpire, wearing a nice straw hat, black tie and a white coat as if he’s about to begin consultations with his patients. And whenever the players score a goal, he makes weird gestures with his fingers. This is really quite a corny game, I know, but we girls love it. If I had to sit it out tonight explaining the rules of this complex sport to you, I think we’d be here all night. I’m not a pro, you know, I’m mainly there for the blokes. I’ll give a brief intro so long though. To say ball-up is not a swear word in Australia. What it is, is the two tallest men on the pitch, one from each side, settling so-called disputes. These guys are known as ruckmen.
And what happens when the ball goes out of play? I think this rule is pretty cool. In NFL, rugby and soccer, one of the teams will be tossing the ball back into play. Not the case in Aussie Rules, ha-ha-ha. Guess what, the umpire, yes, he is called an umpire, chucks it back in. And how does he do it – listen to this, this is really funny. He stands with his back to the field and the players and then tosses the ball over his head so as not to see where it is going. I mean, really.
This is how the players move the ball around the park. They can kick it or they can handball it or handpass it. But nobody’s allowed to pass it. So unlike the other ballgames, not so. If you try and pass the ball, your opposing team is given a free kick. And while the blokes are running with the ball, they must bounce it, jiggly-up, every fifteen meters or so. Otherwise, trouble. A penalty goes to the other team for ball holding.
The fun part of the game starts when the players tackle each other. The rules state that they may only tackle below the knee or above the shoulders, as in a high tackle. Now, if you do this in rugby, soccer, or NFL football, this is considered dangerous play. Not so in Aussie Rules. They’re tough bastards and they can take it. Oh, and did you know, girls can play the game too. The game was founded all the way back in the eighteen fifties in Melbourne, where else, I might ask. The first big match was played here.
In soccer, you call them derby matches. We have them too. It’s one of the highlights of our footie calendar. I support the Melbourne Demons and it’s the North Melbourne Kangaroos that get it in the neck come derby time.
Read: A Girl Take of the World