As a Sydneysider, I have come to admire the AFL. Did you know that it has the fourth highest average crowds for any domestic professional sporting league on the planet?
Not bad for a sport where fully half the teams come from just one, mid-sized city.
AFL fans have many reasons to be proud of “our game” as they so touchingly call it. Yet, sometimes they could do with a little reality check.
So, here I present the top 5 examples I have observed of Aussie Rules’ self-delusion:
1. The World Game
In the afterglow of a pulsating 2009 Collingwood semi-final victory, television host Anthony Hudson delivered these immortal words:
“Mick Malthouse has just finished speaking to the world’s media; let’s hear what he had to say.”
The world’s media? Yes, he really did say that.
2. Acker Goes Global
In 2010 Jason Ackermanis was at the centre of controversy over remarks he made about gay footballers. The Adelaide Advertiser ran a story claiming that the comments had ignited “international debate”.
This was the paper’s main justification for its claim: “Reaction from across the world sparked an #akermankiss hashtag…”
This is true. However, maybe the Advertiser should have added that there were only 75 comments on Twitter featuring this hashtag – seemingly all from Australians.
3. Educating Fergie
In his book, The Long March, Kevin Sheedy described his meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson. As a gift, Sheedy had given Ferguson a book he had once written on great Aussie Rules coaches.
Sheedy then stated, “Wouldn’t it be lovely [if] Sir Alex learned something new from one of those men to help him at Manchester United.”
So that’s why Manchester United were so successful!
4. The Ultimate Challenge
Recently, former St Kilda player Justin Koschitzke stated that the AFL is the hardest competition in the world to win.
How did he arrive at such an extraordinary claim?
Simple – because you can dominate the season, but unless you win the grand final, it is all for nought.
Memo to the NFL: you should introduce a grand final too! Call it something suitably American, like ‘The Mega Bowl’ or something. And, come to think of it, maybe a grand final would be a good idea for the other Aussie codes too…
5. World’s Greatest
One day (don’t ask me how), I caught the start of the SANFL coverage. (Incidentally, the term ‘SANFL’ itself is impressively deluded – referring as it does to a ‘national’ competition which takes place entirely within Adelaide).
The game in question featured the mighty Port Adelaide Magpies and, in the introduction, the commentator spoke of their numerous premierships and added they were arguably, “the greatest Australian Football club in the world.”
A quick tip: if you are angrily saying that this honour belongs to Collingwood, Carlton or (heaven forbid) East Fremantle, you have missed the point!