Archive for the ‘Aussie Rules’ Category

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

March 21, 2016


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Darwin Buffaloes v Palmerston, Saturday 10th October 2015, 4.30pm

November 15, 2015


After spending the last couple of years in Africa, it looks as if the next two will be spent in Australia as I’ve taken a job at Darwin in the Northern Territories. Climate wise, it’s hot and humid, which is no big deal when I’m in an air-conditioned office or apartment, but it’s not the sort of place where you’d want to spend much time outside at mid-day.

Evenings are fine though and when taking a stroll down towards the harbour area Jen and I have spotted a whole new selection of birds. I presume none of them ever fly anywhere for the summer or winter as I’ve not seen them anywhere else in the world. In a way, it makes me think that I should be ticking them off a list, or underlining their names in a book, but there’s only so much of that stuff you can do and I suspect I’ve probably got more record keeping spreadsheets than is healthy.


There are bats as well. As it turns to dusk they will appear from wherever they spend the daytime and land in whatever tree is best for the bugs or berries that they eat. Sometimes we’ll sit in a seat nearby and watch them climb from branch to branch, using paws that I’d never realised they had on the ends of their wings.


When I was a kid we’d see bats in St Mary’s church in Norton. They seemed much scarier in a graveyard after dark, particularly one where the vicar had a tendency to walk around wearing a cloak. Occasionally we’d take younger kids there, ostensibly on a bat hunt, and then scare the shit out of them by one of us emerging from behind a gravestone wearing a monk costume from an old school play.

One time we thought we’d make it a little scarier by emptying out the contents of a firework onto a gravestone and creating a flash of light known, at those times, as a ‘genie’. Whilst a couple of mates led the unsuspecting victims towards us, I lit the match whilst Nico stood by complete with hooded costume and an impressive, from a distance, four-foot long wooden sword.

It worked like a dream. The firework powder created an explosion of light that perfectly illuminated the monk and his sword, causing the younger kids to scream and run. Unfortunately we hadn’t closed our eyes and so were temporarily blinded by the flash. The consequence of which was that when making our hurried escape we couldn’t see any of the tombstones that stood between us and the far wall.

We must have fallen half a dozen times as we collided with shin level grave markers and ended up exiting the churchyard with far more cuts and bruises than we’d have got in a kicking from the vicar.


I’ve not seen any fireworks in Darwin, or any graveyards come to think of it, so I doubt I’ll get up to much like that over here.

What I have seen though was some Aussie Rules football, or as it’s more simply known over here ‘footy’. The opening weekend of the new season had four games in a row at the TIO Stadium which is situated a little way outside of town. I’m not sure how far but it was thirty dollars in a taxi.

The travel costs were offset by the ten dollar admission charge. Not bad for four games of football, although at the time we arrived for the third game, there were only a couple of hundred people inside the ground.


Aussie Rules is an odd game. You have eighteen players on each side, at least I think it was eighteen. It was hard to tell as they don’t seem to have any restrictions as to who goes onto the pitch. Physios will run on to treat injured players. Waterboys will jog around the centre of the field offering the players a drink and the coaches will sprint to the far side to give a player advice or a bollocking directly to his face.

At times it looked just like kids being let into the playground for a break with people running in different directions, colliding with each other, or stood chatting a hundred yards from the ball. If you’d let a couple of dogs loose onto the field I doubt anyone would have noticed.


The food and drink wasn’t up to much. I suspect that the chicken and chips I had were left over from the previous season, whilst the beer was limited to 3.5% alcohol content. My first can of Carlton Mid wasn’t too bad, although perhaps that first beer on a hot day feeling clouded my judgement.

I tried a Carlton Cold next. There’s a television show in there somewhere with a tag line of “You’ve been Carlton Coled” and featuring the former West Ham striker pranking people. Or maybe pranking football clubs by somehow getting them to give him a contract and then smirking and opening a beer.

Anyway, the beer was terrible. Cold, I’ll concede, but terrible nevertheless. I felt as if I’d been Carlton Coled.


One other oddity was the insistence of the linesmen taking the throw-ins themselves. In an attempt to appear impartial they faced away from the pitch and lobbed the ball backwards over their heads. If they didn’t want to see where they were throwing it I’d have been happy to light a genie in front of their faces and temporarily ruin their vision that way. It would have seemed no less bizarre than everything else that was going on.


And the result? Well, Darwin got around a hundred points and local rivals Palmerston seventy-odd, I think. The reason they get so many points is that you get six for kicking the ball between the two middle posts and one point if you fail but still get it inside one of the outer posts.

I’d recommend they simplify matters by getting rid of the outer posts and making it a one point score (or a goal) for getting the ball between the inner posts. All you’d need then are crossbars and goalies and you’d have a decent game.