NA’s AFL GF Post

It’s Grand Final week! We also posted about this last year, so I guess this is tradition now.

This year, Stephanie’s team, the Sydney Swans, are playing Liz’s team, the Western Bulldogs. OH WHAT AWKWARDNESS, WHAT POTENTIAL FOR SCHADENFREUDE AND ALSO CATS DRESSED UP IN TEAM GEAR!


I didn’t even have an AFL team until last year — I initially liked Collingwood, but then there was the pack rape, and then I was like, “Actually? No.”

[Steph interrupts: This is how you know Liz didn’t know anything about AFL, that she was interested in Collingwood. COLLINGWOOD.]

[Liz: Literally the only thing I knew about AFL when I moved to Melbourne was that if a bunch of drunk guys in black and white ask who you barrack for, you say Collingwood and make a speedy exit. THEY WERE THE ONLY TEAM I HAD HEARD ABOUT. I mean, my BFF worked for the Brisbane Lions for a while, I just didn’t know which code they played for.]

But then I moved to the inner west last year, the same year the Bulldogs started winning things? And, my quokkas, I was simply fascinated and charmed by the way their fans responded — with confusion and a little fear. “We’re … winning? Not losing? But … how? What do we do? Should we be happy? Is it a trick?”

And now, for the first time in 55 years, the Western  Bulldogs have made it to the Grand Final. FIFTY-FIVE YEARS. They are the ultimate of underdoggies, and I love an underdog. All of the inner west is covered in Bulldogs colours, and suddenly I understand why people are into sports: CAMARADERIE and LOTS OF PEOPLE HOPING FOR THE SAME THING and METAPHORIC CLUTCHING IN CASE IT ALL FALLS APART!

Accordingly, I bought a beanie for myself and a scarf for the nomcat, signed up for a free trial of the AFL Live app, and looked up the rules.


(No, until yesterday, I did not know the rules of AFL. You might blame it on growing up in Queensland, but I also don’t know the rules of NRL, or Union, or soccer, or any other variety of football. Or, come to that, cricket.)

(It turns out that AFL has lots of different kinds of kicks, and it’s called a mark when someone catches the ball, which often involves jumping — which looks especially cool in gifsets on Tumblr — and if you’re running with the ball, you have to bounce it.)

I have also discovered the wonderful world of AFL merch, and have the following questions and thoughts:

  • Why are guernseys such an ugly cut? That is not going to be remotely attractive on me.
  • Like, why not sell cute singlets as well as guernseys? I just want something I can wear to yoga. That’s all I need.
  • Why are all the non-ugly shirts sold out? Is it because it’s the week before the grand final? THIS IS OPPRESSIVE.
  • Why are the very cutest shirts for children? I don’t fit into children’s sizes anymore, guys, come on.
  • I desperately wish I had planned this better, because I’m madly in love with these terrible earrings and wish I had room for them in my budget.
  • Likewise this extremely tasteful and elegant necklace, which I’m strongly inclined to buy next year and then wear to work in my rather posh office.
  • You can also buy pet memberships, which I am TOTALLY into, except the cat already hates me a lot right now.


In contrast to Liz, I’ve had a football team since I was 12 years old. I came from a family with no sporting affiliations, but when I got to high school my social studies teacher insisted that everyone pick a sporting team, and I a) was contrary, b) living in Perth during major WEagles years, and c) had recently spent some formative years in Sydney, and Sydney was having a good year so I thought WHY NOT.

And teams stick. Even when you decide that footy isn’t cool for a few years and you wander off and don’t really pay attention, in the back of your heart you’re still paying attention. And then your team has a few bad years and then starts having a good run of it again and your heart doesn’t know what to do, until finally you’ve won and you’re at the Perth Royal Show wearing your red and white in a sea of yellow and blue and getting harassed all day by some fucking sore losers, and when you see another person in your colours you wave violently, energetically, with such delight from a distance until they’ve passed out of sight, and you know that you’ll never, ever waver again.

bulldogcat4But I have a spot in my heart for the classic underdoggies. If they win this week, I will be delighted for them. Sydney’s last GF win was 2012. If we have to lose to anyone this season, I am so cheerful that it be the doggies. Truly, no matter the outcome, our code is a winner this year. (Undertales: In 1996, when Fitzroy merged with Brisbane, I was crushed. To this day there are only two clubs songs I know in their entirety: Sydney Swans, and Fitzroy Lions.)

Obviously AFL continues to be problematic, racially and genderly, but with the Women’s League ramping up for 2017 (Sydney isn’t fielding one, so if anyone would like to offer me arguments for Women’s teams that aren’t the Doggies, please forward them immediately, otherwise I’m picking the Doggies) and a red and white grand final looming, I am feeling moderately cheerful.

Merch thoughts:

  • I have Swans merch, but didn’t bring any to Singapore.
  • I once won over a CEO who didn’t care for environmental stuff at a place I worked in WA through our shared love of the Swans.
  • All I want is a Swans scarf with rainbow highlights, such as the Saints have.
  • AFL nail wraps are definitely where the 2017 season should go.
  • Oh how much do I want this hoodie?
  • I’m considering joining the Sydney Swans Ladies (previously known as the Ladies of the Lake).
  • I’m seriously considering getting a Melbourne-based Sydney Swans membership. I’ve held off for a variety of reasons but I had so much fun at the games this season so maybe. MAYBE.
  • I will not be buying my housecat a membership.
  • How handy that red is my favourite colour, though sometimes it’s hard not to accidentally dress as a Saints supporter.

An important link that we separately decided should be in this post:

Reasons to support the Bulldogs that have nothing to do with sport


3 thoughts on “NA’s AFL GF Post

  1. I have apparently demonstrated enough (too much?) interest in the AFL this year that my wife has decided we must go to the Pride game next year, assuming the Swans are playing in the Pride game again.

    As a non-AFL-following person, my history with the Swans actually goes back to Prep, when all the scrapbooks given out to the students had AFL teams on the covers, and mine was the Swans (this is back when you were given school supplies by your school rather than buying them yourself!). My father’s reaction was “They’ll always be South Melbourne” even though he’s never seen an AFL game in his life, nor cared. Then, I was working in Sydney in 2005, and not entirely happy about it, and decided that like me, the Swans were really from Melbourne, they just worked in Sydney.

    And then I married a massive Swans fan. (Well, New Zealand/USA/Canada/UK/another 18 jurisdictions-married. Not Australian-married.)

  2. I was a Fitzroy supporter, and I admit: when Brisbane Lions started winning, it was odd. And weird. But celebration! And then they kept winning, and it was all “really?” and I got sick of the Cup going outside Victoria (my Mum’s an old school VFL supporter, and when we chose teams we were told we could barrack for anyone except an interstate team or Richmond). I was disappointed when the Fitzroy ladies team didn’t get to be in the women’s AFL, so I’m supporting Footscray there.

    Footscray has always had a soft spot in my heart — one of my brothers chose them as their team (politics in AFL: when you have a real mixed marriage in terms of footy teams, and thus no one is allowed to influence your kids, so you wind up with six teams between five people). And they nearly merged with Fitzroy way back when, so I’ve had a soft spot for them for what feels like forever. And I am actually going to sit down and have a proper Grand Final watch for the first time in years this weekend.

  3. Like Steph, I’m from WA, and I responded to the constant barrage of WEagles stuff (for about ten years there, if you weren’t wearing blue and gold you were just about a traitor – or you had to show proof of being born outside WA as an excuse for wearing another team’s colours) by becoming a moderate Dockers fan the moment they came into existence. Given I don’t pay much attention to the sportsball in the first place, my fandom is limited to cheering vaguely whenever I hear about them winning via whatever source. (My father-in-law is a much more dedicated Dockers fan, so I crocheted him a purple & white knee rug in a sort of “Dockers Jersey” pattern, to use when he goes to their matches. He apparently appreciates it). Occasionally I have episodes of following the footy in order to keep track of various stats. One year I may even manage a whole season of it.

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