Catriona is on a footy tour following some simple footy rules for a great night out at an AFL match!
Australian Rules Football originated in 1896 with the main purpose of keeping cricketers fit during their off-season. It is probably more similar to Gaelic football than to any other game, and in states south and west of New South Wales and Queensland it has always been a way of life.
The introduction of Sydney and Brisbane sides into the league has made it a truly national game, and "northerners" have cottoned on to realising that a game of Rules is exhilarating and exciting. Generations of the one family follow the one team, and if anyone even thought about wearing the colours of a rival team, they would be cast as black sheep. True fans live and breathe their team, its past and present players and its history and most have several items of clothing some quite outlandish in their team's colours.
If you've ever wondered what all the fuss is about and fancy going to a game, Anthony and Kirsty Grace run Melbourne Sports Tours and will accompany you to a footy ground and tell you the game's ins and outs. The general aim is very easy to fathom 18 players on each side trying to kick as many goals as they can in four quarters of play, but it is better to learn the finer points from someone who knows the game well … and is unbiased.
It's highly likely that by half-time you will be calling out "ball" and "mark" and "give him fifty" (a 50 metre penalty) with those seated around you. You may have also joined the general consensus that umpires just don't understand the rules of the game.
Goal umpires are very animated and precise in their signalling. Boundary umpires defy all things natural and run backwards for almost the entire game. Team runners are on and off the arena of play with drinks and more importantly, instructions from the coach. Players interchange with team-mates who wait on the sidelines. Players can be taken off the field as punishment, if they are looking tired or have been injured or are bleeding.
The spectacle of the men leaping to catch a high soaring ball (a mark) and kicking it from amazing distances through the goalposts is really wonderful to watch, so next time you're in Melbourne, when you've finished shopping and sipping coffee, why not call the Graces, rug up and have the time of your life.
Melbourne, Australia's AFL capital
Melbourne Sports Tours to an AFL game cost $80 per person. Included is a welcome drink, reserved undercover seating and the ubiquitous meat pie. Tours run each Friday night between March and September. They run other sporting tours throughout the year.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.
Melbourne Sports Tours
Box 287 PO Mitcham 3132
Ph: (03) 8802 4547, fax: (03) 8802 email@example.com
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