St Mary’s v Darwin Buffaloes, Saturday 23rd January 2016, 4pm

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Jen and I often walk past the Garden Oval if we are walking up the coast to somewhere like the East Point Nature Reserve. We follow the path by the sea until we get to the reserve where our interest is usually then focused on spotting wallabies and kangaroos.

I can’t tell the difference. I know kangaroos are eventually bigger, but there must be some stage in their development when they are wallaby sized. At the moment though, it doesn’t really matter to us which they are, it’s enough to get as close as we can to them in the wild.

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There’s a cemetery just before the Garden Oval. I like looking at graves, particularly old ones. I wouldn’t want one of my own though as I’m more of a fresh-air type of person. I’d rather have one of those Tibetan send-offs where they leave you out on a hillside for the birds to peck at. I suspect though that I’ll have to settle for cremation.

This cemetery has a grave with what looks like a stone dog kennel on top of it. I can’t make my mind up as to whether it’s a dog grave or somewhere for the occupant’s dog to have a kip in the shade whenever visiting his master’s final resting place. Either way, more graveyards should have them.

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As we approached the Oval we noticed that quite a few people had chosen not to pay the ten dollar entrance fee and had parked on the road alongside the perimeter fence and then set up their chairs on the pavement. It was a decent enough view and a big saving for a group of people with their own food and drink.

As we didn’t have any food or drink, or any chairs, ten dollars didn’t seem too bad a price and so we went inside.

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At the previous Aussie Rules game that we’d been to, the drinks kiosk sold nothing stronger than 3.5% beer. I was hoping for something with a little more body to it and after asking for their strongest beer was directed to the clubhouse where, I was told, they sold ‘heavy’ rather than the ‘mid’ and ‘light’ that the outdoor bar stocked.

As the club house also had air-conditioning we watched the first half of the game through the window whilst I worked my way through a few schooners of Carlton Draught.

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One of the teams went a bit wild in the opening minutes and quickly went three goals up, proper goals as well, the six point between the middle post versions that warrant that double finger-pointing gesture from the official at that end.

Despite the frantic action, I’m still not impressed by the sport. It seems the main tactic, apart from brawling with each other, is to try to catch the ball and, I think, call for a mark. That then allows the player with the ball to boot it elsewhere without anyone trying to rag him to the ground. If he is near enough to the posts then he gets to shoot unhindered.

We went outside for the second half and watched in the warmth of the main stand. There was a commentator somewhere behind us whose speed of speech matched the urgency on the pitch. At first I thought someone had the horse racing on the radio. Maybe I should have tried to listen and learn, but in reality anything that happened on the pitch was nothing more than an occasional interruption to the sitting and drinking in the sun.

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Whichever team was winning at the start stayed in front all the way through. The other lot pegged it back a little in the final quarter before then letting it slip to roughly the same distance behind that they were five minutes into the game.

I’m not convinced there’s actually any need to keep score in Aussie Rules. It seems a lot of work for the officials and scoreboard operators for very little benefit. I’d just let the players run around, randomly colliding with each other for two hours, then when its time to go home someone could sound the hooter to signal next goal the winner. That seems a lot easier.

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