I must admit that since moving to Switzerland I have missed one thing. Football. Now I’m not talking about the round ball type of football that is so beautifully described as a gentleman’s game played by thugs. Nor am I talking about rugby, which is the opposite. A thug’s game played by gentlemen. Nor am I talking about American football. The crash helmets still baffle me. Sorry. The code of football that I have been missing is Australian Rules Football; sometimes called ‘no rules’ football or simply AFL. (Australian Football League)
The one important difference between AFL and every other code of football is that there is no offside rule whatsoever. So a player has no idea at all where an opposition player may be coming at him from. The other subtle difference is that a player’s hips and shoulders can be used legitimately, within five meters of the ball, to ‘shepherd’ an opposition player out of play. Now this is where it gets very interesting. Very tall, muscular men running at very high speed in pursuit of the football from any direction at all, (remember no offside rule) and you have a delicious recipe for monumental crunches.
As a spectator at a match, I can honestly tell you that when one of these legitimate ‘shepherds’ happens at high speed, it makes a certain type bone crunching noise that makes one rather weak at the knees.
Now of course as a young lad in Australia I played Aussie Rules football as it was compulsory at school, and oh boy, did I love it! Well, the playing was great, but my long list of broken bones is another story. There was never a winter for me between the ages of ten and sixteen when I wasn’t wearing a plaster cast for one broken bone or another. Clearly I wasn’t built big and tough enough.
Just to give you a taste of what sport I played and loved as a kid, take a look at this short Youtube video. Got your beer and peanuts ready?