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An Irish appreciation of the AFL Grand Final

emreapy new author
Roar Rookie
29th September, 2012
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Sydney Swans fans at the AFL Grand Final. (AFL Media/Slattery Media)
emreapy new author
Roar Rookie
29th September, 2012
21
1360 Reads

An Irish woman at the National Young Writers’ Festival in Newcastle. Bar filled mostly, I’d expect, with people who understand AFL.

I haven’t a clue of the rules and have honestly never watched a game before but I am from a family that loves and supports Gaelic Football avidly.

My home county of Mayo contested the All Ireland Final last Sunday and I watched it in Surfers Paradise at midnight.

I compromised with an English guy I met in the backpackers to watch it with me. He said he would if I watched the Man United vs Liverpool game. Thought Mayo would do it, was sure this was our year. But we lost.

Always a bridesmaid kind of team. Devastating.

Anyway, I will compare the AFL grand final to what I know and ask questions of what I don’t.

This looks a lot like Gaelic, but with a rugby ball. The scoring though? Where’s the goal? Is the goal the whole space in between the posts? Looks pretty easy. Would expect a high scoring game. Can anyone miss, if they get points between the other bars?

The pitch is round and massive looking. The stadium is impressive.

Umpires are a bit fascist with their salutes. I like them. I want more of them.

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I was wondering what was going on with the adverts, but someone just informed me that they happen after every goal. Oh my God.

These men are fit. I mean that in every sense of the word. The physicality of the sport is quite similar to the GAA.

Another advert. This is worse than America.

There’s something going on when the ball goes into the box.

I know that in papers back home, because of the mass emigration and because some Irish lads are playing AFL, there’s analysis of this sport now every week.

Gaelic footballers aren’t paid. It’s an amateur sport that relies on its players professionalism towards it. A grassroots pride of place thing. I’ve heard of scouts coming over to Ireland to poach talent.

I’ve heard some clubs can’t field Gaelic teams anymore because all the young men from their village have left. And I’ve just read the average AFL player makes 221k a year. Money, sunshine, lifestyle Down Under vs rain and recession. What would you choose?

Another ad break. Really?

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I see that though it’s easy to score when you get a chance, the pitch is huge. They’ve quite a trek to get near the goal. The atmosphere in the pub is not tense but it’s only just half time now. Long game, eh.

Oh it just got exciting. Temper Trap. Nice one. Sweet Disposition. This is definitely my favourite part of the match so far.

Third quarter. I’m blaming the size of the pitch for the slower pace of the game. One guy just proper flung another off him. Would like a bit more of that.

And with my bitching, the atmosphere changes and pace quickens. Maybe I should bitch about not having a drink in front of me.

I think I’m up for Hawthorn.

These men look as fresh as they did at the beginning. Impressed by this. Commentary has been turned up. Now I can learn what’s happening, this may change my experience of watching the game.

Hawks for a comeback.

Ok I retract it all. It’s quite exciting now. Think the last quarter will be compelling, time running out, close score and all that.

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Here we go, lights flashing, Hawks goal.

And then a car.

Like the GAA, it’s getting scrappy now this close to the end. I feel a little nervous (bizarrely). The crowd’s gone louder. The Swans’ manager looks fit to implode. Enjoying the fan shots.

Something has provoked a “f***ing bullshit!” from here in the pub – what? It’s frustrating to be this thick about a game but it’s nice to be impartial about who wins. As I said earlier, last week our team lost the final. Tears in an Irish bar on the East Coast. Being consoled by a confused Brit. Will someone cry here if their team loses?

Seriously, the ads. They destroy the flow of the game, cut short the buzz of getting a goal.

BLOOD.

Endurance of the players is spectacular. Still running around that massive pitch. Swans goal.

7 News.

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Wow. Game’s going right ‘down the wire’. Would love to be able hear the coaches.

When does it end? What happens if it’s a draw? Replay?

Pressure on. Can’t type. Too much going on.

The Swans have it. Congrats. Crowd favourites here in Newcastle.

Decent match, I’ll admit. Slow burner with a good payoff. And hunky men.