Thursday, September 25, 2008

Footy, Pt. 1 -- GRAND FINAL!

In Australia, the big fall/winter sports are rugby league, rugby union and Australian Rules Football. Each -- depending on which your state you're in-- is called "footy". Yeah, I know -- in conversation, it can be a little confusing. But only, I suspect, for someone not from there. Because in New South Wales (where Sydney is) and Queensland (to the North), footy is definitely rugby, and probably rugby league. (Rugby Union is a variation with I think a smaller set of teams and popularity. Rugby League is the international game that you've probably heard about.) In South Australia, Western Australia and above all in Victoria, where most of the teams started off (and many remain) in the neighborhoods of Melbourne -- footy means the AFL.

I love this sport. Love it. In my two stints in Melbourne I saw five games, all at the footy mecca, the MCG. (Short for Melbourne Cricket Grounds. I was calling it the McG until I got tired of the blank stares I received from Melbournians.) And tomorrow -- well, Saturday, Aussie time -- is the AFL Grand Final. I'm not exactly sure whether we're talking the Australian version of the Super Bowl, but I will be finding out, because... I'm flying back for the game!

Ok, second best. Starting at 1am Saturday I will be posted up at the Australian Hotel, a bar on 38th Street, with who knows how many others, tuned into the finals match, Geelong (ja-LONG) v. Hawthorn. There are actually at least 5 places in Manhattan showing the game live -- you have to love Manhattan -- and I've checked out three. All assure me they will have Australian beer and meat pies and the game live, but only the Australian is the real deal, an Aussie hangout with real Aussie beers all the time, some nice photographs of the country, and one station with Australian sport on all the time.

(A quick note: "Hotel" -- in Australia, a hotel is basically a bar that has a couple rooms above the shop. Think "pub" with a guest room.)

So as you sleep soundly Saturday morning, have a little think of me. And pray I can stay awake. 1-4am -- not my best hours. But it's my belief that a regular supply of James Boag beer and meat pies will sustain me. We shall see...