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Tuesday, February 19 2019 @ 09:27 am ACDT

Heritage of the Game: an American perspective

North America

We welcome our newest writer Joe Woodyard to the site. Joe is based in the United States in the state of Georgia. We hope he will become a long term correspondent for us.  His footy interests lie with the history of the AFL, it's stories, and the on-field play during the regular season. 

I like that AFL clubs do a good job of remembering their roots and telling their entire story, even if the memories aren’t as pleasant.

St. Kilda matches don’t make it to the US, at least not through my cable TV package, so I’ve been watching a season 2016 tilt with Melbourne. On the back of the Saints uniforms is an “EST. 1873,” or established in 1873, which alludes to the first year of their existence.

They’ve never relocated and granted, the majority of their footy hasn’t been of the winning type, but remembering your history and knowing where you’ve come from are both good things.

The Sydney Swans do this on their guernseys by stitching in “SMFC” at the base of the neck. This of course stands for South Melbourne Football Club, which was this team’s identity from 1874 until 1982 when financial woes led to relocation that sent the team northeast. The initials were an addition in 2004.

Moving a team like that is painful for supporters—it feels like something is being taken away, that their loyalty, their going to games and cheering with their families, ultimately meant nothing. So adding the old SMFC to the home and away kits is a very nice touch.

Same thing in Footscray. The Footscray Football Club also had its share of financial troubles and saw a path out by becoming the Western Bulldogs and potentially connecting with a larger fan base. You can see the “FFC” above the number on the back of the guernsey.
I see teams here in the United States move around and I don’t see the same thing. Can you imagine the Oklahoma City Thunder ever wearing anything that referred to the time the franchise spent as the Seattle SuperSonics?

We don’t see the Baltimore Ravens talk about being the Cleveland Browns in a previous existence, nor do the Washington Nationals refer to ever being the Montreal Expos.

But in Seattle, Cleveland, and Montreal, fans felt like they got stabbed in the back by owners who were seeking more money. Loyalty, history, and tradition meant nothing next to the almighty dollar.

It is nice that I don’t perceive these AFL sides disrespecting their fans like that. I get that a goal is to make money and not lose it, but it is very cool that a nod is given to a team’s heritage.

You can read more of Joe's work at Play On! An Australian Rules Football site

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Heritage of the Game: an American perspective | 2 comments | Create New Account
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Heritage of the Game: an American perspective
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Wednesday, March 08 2017 @ 06:04 am ACDT

This is where Australian Football I suspect is different to American football (which to me, seemed more rooted in Colleges - similar to English school boy football). In Melbourne there were not the established institutions of academia. Football as was experimented with and played at - was very much a local community level. Granted MFC was initially limited to members of the MCC and the 'white collar' workers.
Australian Football and its older clubs share a history that in the main has avoided something other codes do - and that is private ownership. In the US - it really is just a 'franchise' to be bought and sold. It's not a club. Even in England clubs were privately owned before the end of the 1800s - but that fitted I suppose with their class based society.
So - in the AFL when I hear the players trotting out the line (pushing for more pay) of "The players put on the show" - I beg to differ - the players in many cases are secondary. It's the clubs that put on the show and the players are privileged to be there - wearing those colours and placing their own name in history.
It is a special heritage - and gladly I note that the AFL from Demetriou on have actively sought to protect the existence of clubs rather than pushing merger/relocation.

Heritage of the Game: an American perspective
Authored by: Cam Homes on Wednesday, March 08 2017 @ 10:32 am ACDT

The inclusion of "Bankers" in South Australia's first footy competition tends to support your assertion, Micheal. Gawler, SA's first town outside Adelaide also fielded a team early on as well, the railway had reached Gawler by 1857, enabling "inter town" matches to be played.