Summer in Melbourne is usually peak season for travelers. Given that Melbourne is often a stop through destination for greater exploration of the Australian coastline it makes sense that many tourists choose summer, as its undoubtedly the best time to experience Australian beach culture.
However there is a reason why April-September is my favourite time to be in Melbourne, and that’s because of a little (actually rather huge) Australian game called Australian Football. Outside of Gaellic football, it’s not really like any other game played in the world.
For anyone new to the game I’d recommend this 4 minute tutorial on the great game:
With the exception of Queensland and the northern part of New South Wales, Australian football is played widely across Australia, from the smaller local leagues played in country towns to the huge AFL (Australia Football League) that is predominately played in Melbourne. Until recently when I started working weekends, I was one of the many fans that every week could be seen crowding a train, decked out in their club colours on the way to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to cheer their team on. I’m a crazy footy fan and it’s one of the very many reasons why I love Melbourne.
There is a reason that many Melbourne travel guides, including the Lonely Planet list watching an AFL match as the number one thing to do in Melbourne. The atmosphere is electric, particularly if you manage to get to a game with a big crowd and if the result is close. The best games are the ones where the game is decided in the last minute or so, at least if the result goes your team’s way. The game will always begin with both teams belting out their team song, every tackle will be followed with the supporters yelling out ‘Ball!’ (which basically means their team deserves a free kick because they held the ball when tackled), and every goal, particularly the important ones will be followed with chants and loud cheering. I guess its like many sports played throughout the world. Another advantage is that compared to going to see a game of Premier League Football in England, or a League game of baseball, basketball or football in the US, attending a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground won’t set you back. It’s been a while since I purchased an adult ticket but I don’t remember it being anymore than $30 for a general admission ticket.
September is when footy finals hit Melbourne and this year I have an especially good reason to look forward to September. My team, the Richmond Tigers who 10 games ago sat equal at the bottom of the league ladder with just 3 wins to 10 losses, managed to win 9 games in a row to sneak into the top 8 and secure a finals spot. I couldn’t be more excited!
See our amazing effort here: http://www.richmondfc.com.au/video/2014-09-01/road-to-the-finals
I told my boss I wasn’t coming to work this Sunday, booked some flights, accommodation and secured some finals tickets and I’m on my way to Adelaide this weekend to see them take on Port Adelaide in the first final. Wish us luck!
Have you experienced an AFL match? Do you barrack for a team? Do you have any travel sport stories? Comment below