It came as no surprise to me to find that Australians love sport. What came as rather more of a surprise was quite how fully I have embraced their sports since moving here. The following is a summary of the teams that I now barrack for.
Geelong Cats – AFL (Australian rules football)
In Melbourne, if you’re asked which footy team you support and you are foolish enough to answer, “I don’t really have a team”, the person you are talking to, whether man, woman, small child, old granny or human lizard, will give you a lengthy speech about the merits of their team. The popularity of AFL varies around Australia but here in Melbourne, it is MASSIVE.
I chose Cats while at a sports bar watching the British and Irish Lions beat the Australians in the rugby last year. At the same time, another screen was showing Geelong beating Hawthorn and so the Australian in our party convinced me to become a supporter. I jumped on board and was quickly singing the Cats’ song, despite knowing neither the words, nor the tune. It must have sounded amazing.
Melbourne Storm – NRL (rugby league)
People round here don’t really care about rugby – I’m told it’s much bigger in Queensland and New South Wales. Nevertheless, I have pinned my colours (purple and gold) to the mast and perhaps we will get along to a game one of these days.
Melbourne Renegades – Big Bash League (Twenty20 cricket)
Regional work kept me away from the Big Bash games last summer, though I caught a few on TV. It’s a bright, brash and neatly marketed T20 league and it’s great fun to watch. Unfortunately we picked Renegades before realising that they were the crapper of the two Melbourne teams, finishing second from bottom in the competition last season. However, the recent signing of Kevin Pieterson to the Melbourne Stars has somewhat validated our choice.*
Auckland Blues – Super 15 (rugby union)
Super Rugby is a rugby union competition played by teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. That’s really all I know about it but Kiwi Girlfriend has told me that I support the Blues.
Greensborough 5 – Northern Netball League (netball)
Netball is really big here – the league I play in, which is just for Melbourne’s northern suburbs, has eight divisions. Eight! I joined Greensborough Netball Club after the season had started and was placed in team 5, which competes in division seven. While that sounds incredibly unimpressive, it’s a good team and we made it through to finals. And, more importantly, I have a training top WITH MY NAME ON THE BACK.
* In case you don’t follow cricket, Pieterson used to play for England but he has always been a bit of a prick. He was fired from the England team for… well… being a bit of a prick.