And so the days are filled...

20 February 2006

Autumn can't be far away now!

Nothing hints at the onset of autumn quite like the first AFL (Australian Rules Football) game of the year. A few years in a row now, Sydney Swans fans have been treated to an exhibition game (that is, a game that doesn't count in the regular season standings) at the beautiful North Sydney Oval. This year's exhibition game was on Friday against the Essendon Bombers. I don't know anything about that team, so if you want to know more about their spunky players, you will have to ask Jacqueline. Here are two guys I am willing to bet are members of the Essendon squad:
2 realy bombers!Most of the 'star' players sit out these exhibition games so the coaches can give some of the young new recruits a run on the field, I guess to see how the youngsters handle the pressure of the 'real game' scenario. Bad news for Sydney: the young Swans (can we call them the Sydney Cygnets?) were not as good as the young Bombers. Final score: 13.12 (90) to 10.11 (71) - not the total bloodbath that Swans coach Paul Roos was predicting, but Essendon truly did deserve to win, they played much better.

Here are the Sydney star players, looking very relaxed:
Sydney playersYes, I am aware that this is usually a knitting blog, but today I have little to report other than continued 5x3 rib progress on Fiver's Leo, so I thought I would bring readers a few little highlights from Friday's exhibition matches.

Things I like about Aussie Rules:

1. The play is fast and furious:
blurry playersHowever, there is a code of honour (amongst spectators at least) that you always applaud a good play, an amazing catch, or a long kick. (At least this is the case where I usually go to watch the games!) Amongst the players, sometimes a bit of biffo breaks out, but that's usually quelled fairly quickly. Overall it's not a violent sport, but it's not for wimps either.

2. The teams huddle during breaks between quarters. This is not a big deal, and I have heard it happens in many other sports. What is unique (I think) to Aussie Rules is that the umpires have their own huddle too. It is often said at Aussie Rules games that the umpires sometimes seem to outnumber the players.
Swans huddle
Swans huddle

Bombers huddle
Bombers huddle

Umpires huddle
Umpires huddle

3. The beautiful old ovals where AFL is played are some of the most special places to Aussies no matter what town they're from. Friday's game at North Sydney Oval enabled me to view one of my favourite trees in all of Sydney (the Moreton Bay fig to the right of this photo)
Bob standand the famous 'Bob' stand, built in 1895 originally at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but relocated to North Sydney in 1984 when the SCG built the new Pat Hills Stand (later renamed the O'Reilly Stand). Most of the rest of the North Sydney Oval dates to 1928. It is simply a breathtaking place.

Growing up a baseball fan in the 70s in America, my sum experience of sporting grounds amounted to concrete soul-less monstrosities...imagine my amazement the first time I stepped into a cricet ground. Yes, the view is blocked by poles holding up the verandah above... but these places are oozing history and character from their very walls. The stands are named after beloved players, not corporate sponsors (who have gotten their mitts, unfortunately, on naming rights for some entire stadia), however I have yet to find out who Bob is, of the stand pictured above.

4. And of course, I love the Aussie Rules fans. This woman sitting in front of me had this stuffed swan sitting on her shoulder for the entire duration of the game. We are nothing if not crazy about our Swannies here in Sydney!
Real Swannies Fan