The Internet has been a huge boon for getting the Aussie Footy message to the world (this site is testament to that), but recent social networking enhancements may be about to change the footy world. Despite advancements to web technologies, it has still traditionally costs a lot for clubs to get their own websites going, to get people to find it (search engines) and also to get an online forum to get people involved. Fans have been trying to find ways to keep in touch and sites like Yahoo groups once helped with Grand Final gettogethers and particularly with formation clubs. But there was never a central place where you could find and login to these groups as a result, they often fizzed out.
In the past couple of weeks some big names from the US threw their weight behind AFL clubs.
Al Gore, former US presidential candidate best known in Australia for his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" on global warming, nominated Collingwood as his AFL club of choice, as reported in the Herald Sun's article Crusader warms to Magpies.
Also former American Idol and pop superstar Kelly Clarkson became a Geelong supporter during her recent tour, as reported in the Herald Sun article Kelly Backs Geelong.
While it makes a good publicity stunt to nominate an AFL team, international celebrities discovering our unique Australian game helps raise awareness - this is especially so in the United States, where awareness of the game is growing but it is still very often confused with rugby.
The 2007 Australian Football League Grand Final played out just as Geelong would have hoped and Port Adelaide supporters would have had nightmares about. The Cats had been the dominant team all year and there was always a risk throughout the finals series that the other clubs were simply playing off for the right to be belted in the big one.
In hindsight Port fans may well wish they hadn't made it through to the Grand Final. Although their second placing at the end of the minor round meant they had earned a crack at the Cats, there were always question marks over their younger players' ability to handle big game pressure, as evidenced by some of their losses during the year to Adelaide (both times) and Sydney (one from one), teams know for their crushing defensive pressure. Ironically the top placed Geelong ended up with a tougher finals draw, facing the tenacious Collingwood before nearly 100,000 fans the week before, and having squeezed through that they would've been better prepared for a tight final. As opposed to recent thrillers, the AFL's showcase event got two high scoring teams but did they get the two that would put on the best display?
There's been plenty of talk to suggest Australia will take on other countries in a full-scale footy test match in the women's game long before the men catch up overseas - and a group of US students at Fremantle's Notre Dame University have set the standard for international women's footy sides by taking out a three-team tournament last weekend.
Like so many things, Australian Football doesn't really have one moment in time that clearly defines its origins. But we all like to celebrate anniversaries and mark historic events, so the game between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar in 1858 is often recognised as the first time our sport was played, and you'll certainly hear more about that next year as the AFL celebrates 150 years since that event. Increasingly the popular understanding is that the game was invented by Tom Wills, with heavy influence from a local Aboriginal sport and from Rugby. The indigenous connection is considered somewhat dubious by many historians, but the discovery of possibly the earliest image of a sport resembling Australian Football is sure to spark debate again.
Updated 27th September 2007: The image has now been added to the story (see main article). Museum Victoria's Karen Meehan explains that the image is a print published in 1862 from original sketches and observations made in 1857.
Some of Australian Football's growth areas are in areas that do not enjoy the same socio-economic circumstances as most people living in western nations. This makes seemingly minor issues like obtaining suitable footwear out of the question for many budding young players in countries such as South Africa, Tonga and Samoa. So it's pleasing to see people in both Australia and the United States getting behind the cause of delivering no longer needed boots to less fortunate players in other countries.
As we come towards the end of the 2007 footy season for the majority of leagues around the world, for the first time WFN has decided to publish a list of the premiers in all the major Australian Football leagues around the world - starting from the 2006 season. In fact this is the third year in a row we've intended bringing you a full season wrap of premiers, but the time and effort was yet to match the good intentions. Hopefully this will stand as a good record for recalling the top teams at a glance. Later in the year we intend bringing you the 2007 wrap-up.
The following article is from Jeff Wortman, well known to many of our readers as one half of the comedy duo that deliver the weekly Footy Wrap posted on YouTube. Here Jeff recounts his memories of watching "the grannie" far from home and sympathises with the many people around the world in search of their footy fix on the big day.
On the last Saturday in September two years ago, I was negotiating the Tokyo subway with two mates, looking for the Clubhouse. I’m not usually an advocate of wearing your footy jumper to a game your team isn’t playing in but I felt desperate to find a way to be parochial in a city full of people who were blissfully unaware of the significance of the AFL Grand Final.
Updated 23 Sep 2007 - just a quick reminder to those hosting or looking for AFL Grand Final parties that you can make use of this post or visit AFANA's site, details below.
Originally posted 11 Sep 2007:
The 2007 Australian Football League Grand Final is fast approaching and the tradition of hosting parties to watch the game is continuing to grow around the world. Whereas it used to be mostly expatriate Aussies scrambling for a venue that would show the match, now they are increasingly joined by local fans.
Rather than replicate the work of the Australian Football Association of North America (AFANA), who each year list Grand Final parties from all around the world, we once again advise readers looking for a venue to check out www.afana.com and in particular their party page. Note that they do take details from venues all over the world, not just North America.
To increase their chances of getting a search engine hit, party organisers are also welcome to log in to WFN and leave a comment on this story, detailing where fans can watch the game.
Desperate fans who find the above methods unsuccessful could also consider contacting their nearest footy club, league or Australian embassy (don't tell them we sent you!). Visit our Links section to find the closest one.
Samoan-born forward, Aaron Edwards, was the stand out forward in today's AFL semi-final between North Melbourne and Hawthorn. In a match when all eyes were on the Hawks' twin towers of Lance "Buddy" Franklin and Jarryd Roughead, the "recycled" Edwards booted four goals and launched himself skyward to pull in one of the 2007 season's great marks. The forward is one of those rare success stories where a player is let go by a club (in this case West Coast) and plies his trade in a state league (the VFL), and is thrown a lifeline by a different AFL club. Edwards rewarded the Roos with his four which were the equal top contribution (with on-baller Brent Harvey) in a relatively low scoring game as North Melbourne redeemed themselves for last week's annihilation at the hands of Geelong, defeating Hawthorn 14.9 (93) to 8.12 (60). North now get a crack at Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium and Collingwood face the daunting task of Geelong, probably before close to a sell-out crowd of 100,000 at the MCG - the only risk to that being if Pies fans don't believe they have a genuine chance to winning.
AFL Samoa intends using Edwards as their inspiration for young Samoan boys taking to our sport and such heroics from the player can only help that cause. There aren't too many men of his size, carrying that much muscle bulk, who can leap high above a pack - maybe one day AFL scouts will turn their eyes to the South Pacific island to see if there's any more such talent.