Australian football to the newcomer is a mystery because it is so different to every other football code. There is no offside and the players from both sides are spread all over the oval shaped ground.
The average person with some helpful advice can come to understand the main aims of the game and the great skills of kicking, high marking, handball and other skills. The devotee of my game watches many other parts to the game as well. This is the substance of this article.
When I grew up, other football code followers called our national game “Aerial Ping Pong” mainly because of the great amount of kicking and little vigorous tackling. Today the game is full of vigorous tacking from 360 degrees and has become extremely quick with constant running by all players.
Devotees of the game will tell you that to appreciate the game more fully; you need to position yourself opposite the centre circle at least half way up in a grandstand. There you can see the movement of players, the high marks and great tackling.
There is much to watch to keep you interested in the game from the first bounce to the final siren.
Firstly, there are the physical clashes which involve tackling, bumping and shepherding often followed by second and third efforts to gain the football.
Then you will be thrilled with the spectacular high marking with defensive players attempting to spoil these marks. Often, the player marking the ball will get a “ride” upon the shoulders of a defending player to take what is called a “Specky”
Next, you will be amazed at the speed of the game. You’ll see players running from one end of the field to the other. Players will run with the ball into the wide open spaces bouncing the ball in front of them every fifteen metres until they see a target player to whom they can kick or handball.
Sitting high in the stand allows you to see not only the movement of the ball but you can see the way players run to receive the football further down the ground.
If you are not impressed already, just admire the players’ skill in handballing and kicking. Players now use the handball as an attacking weapon more and more with handballs going 30 metres forward to an attacking player running into space.
The other great skill is to be able to kick the football over fifty metres with great accuracy. If that is not enough, the variety of kicking styles players use to kick goals from the boundary line will astound the new spectator. Then there is the goal often scored on the run from more than fifty metres that brings the crowd to their feet. It is even more exciting when the player kicks a long torpedo punt after the siren to kick the winning goal.
As a devotee to the game, you also watch how the coach changes tactics during the game and how he moves players around the ground to lift the team’s effort or to reduce the effectiveness of opposition players. The game can go through many sequences where each team gets a “run-on”, kicking several goals in a row before the opposition can regain control. So the devotee will always feel his team is in the contest.
If you haven’t see a game of our national football code live, and you would like to do that, find a devotee to sit with at a ground like the M. C. G.; the Adelaide Oval or the “Gabba”. That’s the best way to gain an appreciation of our great national game of football.