Carn the Hawks!

luke-hodge-marks-3246aMelbourne is a sports mad city.  Cricket, tennis (Australian Open, anyone?), rugby, horse racing, sailing, athletics, swimming, soccer, cycling, basketball, rowing – you name it, we Melburnians love it.  Our city is known as the Sporting Capital of the World.  Well, to Australians anyway.  Ha.

Arguably, the sport that holds the dearest place in Melburnians’ hearts is Australian Rules football.  Aussie Rules was first played in Melbourne in the 1850s, and was apparently based on a game played on by local Aboriginal tribes.  European settlers watched the local Aboriginals and then finessed it to include aspects from their own cultural backgrounds by adding a touch of rugby (lots of tackles), a little bit of Gaelic football (lots of jumping and handballs), and soccer (beautiful fluid kicks).  It’s a fast, running game, and to watch someone run for 50 metres while bouncing the oval shaped ball, and then kicking it another 50 metres in a soaring arc is something to be seen.

Up until the 1980s, Australian Rules was played primarily in Victoria, the state in which Melbourne is located.  Gradually, the VFL transformed itself into the Australian Football League as it added teams from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.  As you might guess, there are passionate rivalries between the eight Melbourne based clubs, as well as between the Melbourne based clubs and their interstate rivals.

There are now 18 teams in the AFL competition.  The season runs from the end of March until the last Saturday in September, which is when the pinnacle of the competition is reached during the Grand Final.  This year, my team has made it to the Grand Final, and to say that I’ve been feeling nervous all week since we made it into the game would be an understatement.  I’ve followed the Hawthorn Hawks since I was 8 years old, which (eek) makes it 30 years now.  I’ve been a financial member of the club for 17 years, and despite the fact that our colours are brown and gold – super ugly! – I still love them.  The picture above is of the Hawks’ current captain, Luke Hodge, taking a “mark” by jumping off the ground and then gaining additional height off his opponent’s back.  I love Luke Hodge, and not just because he has beautiful blue eyes and a lovely smile ;-).

The Hawks are playing the Fremantle Dockers this Saturday afternoon for the ultimate prize – the glory of being the 2013 Premiers.  I was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (yes, ironic that Aussie Rules football is played at a cricket ground) in 2008 with 100,000 other Aussie Rules fans when Hawthorn last won the premiership, and I’m not embarrassed to say it was one of the best days of my life.  I have my fingers and toes and eyes crossed in the hope that Hawthorn will get across the line in 2013 as well, even though I won’t be at the game this year.

Carn* the Hawks!!!!

* or, to those who aren’t Australian and therefore have not completely mangled the term, C’MON!!

Photo credit