If you're going to live in Melbourne, you have to learn about the game of footy. This is also known as Australian Rules Football or "Aussie Rules," and it's a big deal around here. Nearly every area/suburb of town has its own team, and they play other teams on the weekends (there's even Monday night footy) throughout the Fall leading up to the AFL (Australian Football League) championship. The best place to watch a game is at the MCG, which is the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This stadium holds nearly 100,000 people, and it's huge. We went to a game there this afternoon with our friends Heath and Isabelle (Heath is the one who has helped Zack start road biking), and we cheered on our St. Kilda Saints.
I'm not going to go into all of the details of the game, but think of a combination of American football (without pads!) and rugby and soccer played on a circle/oval field with special rules. You get six points for getting the ball through the tall center posts, and one for getting it through the outer ones. It's a pretty rough and high-scoring game, and it's lots of fun to watch. St. Kilda's colors are red, white, and black, and the Saints don't win very often. They are kind of like the Chicago Cubs-people love them, but they don't always do so well. Scarves with your team colors are the popular things to wear. We'll need to update our wardrobe soon!
One of the highlights of the game for me was finally getting to try a meat pie. Nachos are not the norm here...people order meat pies and sausage rolls and chips (fries) as game-time snacks! Meat pies are especially popular at footy games. I know it sounds disgusting, but it was actually really good. It's kind of like a pot pie with gravy and meat inside. And it was warm, which was nice, because the Autumn weather is a bit chilly. Especially as we were walking into the stadium, it really felt like we were going into a Denver Broncos game with the fans all bundled up in their gear, the public transportation all full, and everyone headed to the same place on a Fall day.
I also liked the colorful phrases that Aussies would shout to express their feelings during the game, including, but not limited to: "It's bloody hopeless!"-in reference to St. Kilda's chances of winning; "Go back to Sydney!"-toward a certain player I guess; "Lose the rubber guts!"-meaning don't be a chicken I suppose; "Rubbish!"-directed at the referees; and "You're alright boys!"-after a goal. I had a good chuckle at some of these.
St. Kilda had a great first quarter, but they ended up losing to the Hawthorn Hawks 69-99. As the game neared the finish, more and more seagulls gathered above the stands and even down near (and on) the field. It was like they knew that once the game ended, they would have plenty of snacks leftover in the seats! We were sad to see the Saints lose, but our first footy game at the MCG was a lot of fun!