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Aussie Rules Football
2007-10-01 12:00:00

We went to the Australian Rules Football World Final at a sports bar downtown Friday night. Geelong wholloped Port Adelaide 24.19 (163) to 6.8 (44). That's 24 six point kicks plus 19 one point kicks totaling 163 points versus 6 six pointers plus 8 one pointers.

I know nothing about the game, really, other than what I learned and saw Friday night (Saturday morning in Geelong, just to make it more confusing). But what a game -- 185 meter field, 18 players to a team, no helmets, no pads and (according to a T Shirt I saw Friday night), no worries.

You see guys kicking a ball 50 meters down field to score, or literally climbing the shoulders of an opponent to snatch the ball away. There are no time stoppages for an incomplete kick (no throwing, just kicking or punching the ball kind of like in Volleyball). If the ball misses the guy it was headed to, then you see a pile up of guys trying to scoop up the ball. Even an injury has to be pretty severe to stop the game.

The score was disappointing to the folks at the bar who knew the game. Normally the tide turns back and forth throughout, but something went wrong for Port Adelaide... They couldn't seem to keep control of the ball, and their scoring was terrible. The 119 point spread is a new record for a Grand Final, the last being something like 92, and both these teams got to the Final on a one or two point spread.

But to the uninitiated, it was fast moving, constant grappling for the ball, and a lot of fun. Part of it might just be the surreal nature of the game. I mean, here it is, Friday night in Portland, Oregon. But it's Saturday morning in New South Wales. There are things that are familiar, but just a little different... Like that enormous oval field and the four goal posts at either end (get between the middle two, you get six points, between an outer and inner, you get one). Looks familiar, but subtly different from football or soccer.

Of course, the person floating around on a balloon who carried the Cup down to the field in the pregame was pretty surreal for everyone... I guess that as tradition bound as Aussies are, Melbourne has its share of artsy folks who have to push the boundaries a bit.

I understand that the town of Geelong went absolutely wild for a day or two. Having the Final on a Saturday morning means the partying can go well into the next day; not that that usually happens, but Geelong hadn't won in over 40 years, that's a lot of pent up excitement, and then to win so thoroughly, it must have been quite a weekend.

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