Tag Archives: australian rules

Cleansing my soul

Firstly I must thank you readers for your interest. I had some very encouraging comments, one which expressed the sentiment that I could find writing ‘cathartic’. Funnily enough when I read that particular comment, I was at the football, another cathartic place for me.

I’m all for cathartic – it is good for you, I’m sure! But how to do this without harming anyone or anything else is the challenge.

{Cathartic: providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions (Oxford Dictionary)}

Firstly, I should explain. When I say ‘football’, I mean Aussie Rules. I mean a game where big men fly and a tribal mentality prevails. It is unique to Australia (despite its major administration trying to create an International Rules version … to play against the Irish  … I think only because Gaelic Football is sort-of, a little bit, perhaps vaguely similar.)

Like all sports, the team with the most points at the final siren wins the game. In between the opening and final sirens, four quarters of running, kicking, handballing and lots of shouting at umpires (perhaps more from the crowd than the players) take place. It has its own vocabulary – marking (catching), goals (kicks between the two big sticks – six points) and behinds (kicks between the smaller sticks – one point), hangers (going for a mark, using another player as a sort-of stepladder) and much more. Players can have blinders (great games) or shockers (terrible ones).

Injuries can be nasty, given the protective gear consists of some sort of box (don’t ask me … I don’t have the need) and a mouth guard. Occasionally a player will wear a head guard, but a regular feature is strapping of muscles, lots and lots and lots of strapping.

The football club is part of the fabric of small country towns, as their leagues are close-knit but cover a large area. When you drive past an oval on a Saturday afternoon in the cold of winter, it is surrounded by cars, where most of their spectators sit, and later the clubrooms will be a social venue – often also the home of their affiliated sporting teams, like netball.

In the cities, the national competition has big membership numbers … with one in every twenty-seven Australians being a club member in 2017. And the crowd numbers are also huge – 90-odd thousand people attended the first game for the season last Friday night.

It is an eclectic mix of people who turn up. Some are wearing official merchandise jumpers, covered with player signatures, while others keep warm with hand-knitted scarves or beanies. Some eat the food on offer – ‘hot’ chips, meat pies or sausage rolls – and some bring packed sandwiches and a thermos. But they merge into one roar when their team kicks a goal.

So why is football so cathartic for me? I’ll be honest – I can be a stressed little bunny – and the idea of going somewhere and shouting at someone (let’s say, for example, an umpire) with no fear of retribution or really getting into an argument …is quite therapeutic. I guess it just gets a lot of angst out of my system – nothing personal against those yellow t-shirted men who can’t see what just happened (despite being sponsored by an optometry firm!!), but maybe they do need glasses (or maybe I do .. after all, over 40 and all that!)

So I’ll go, rugged up to the nines, and shout my little heart out until the final siren, and the four points are won. And hopefully I’ll see my team there – on the last Saturday in September – to win the final prize.

Photograph: West Coast Eagles vs
Adelaide Crows centre bounce – and some really bad editing from me.  © Rosemary Rogers 2012

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