Footy is an inherent part of Australian culture; it is broadcast on our television screens every weekend (and occasional public holiday). However, watching it front of the television and being part of the crowd in stadium is a whole different experience. I learnt this when I went to my first AFL match last Saturday.
Ingrained into the footy culture is one's stance towards Collingwood. One either has an absolute love affair with Collingwood or they detest their black and white hides. I am on the half that supports Collingwood. I joined the black white army wadding their way towards Etihad Stadium. Etihad stadium is a 4 minute walk from Southern Cross Station for those using public transport.
Providing two popular teams aren't playing against one another and it is not the finals, one doesn't necessarily have to buy tickets beforehand. They can buy tickets on day, although if one decides to do this, they should arrive one hour before the game. The price of tickets at Etihad Stadium can range from $6 to $150, depending on your age, whether you have concession or AFL membership and where the seat is located.
The game is divided up into four breaks, the longest of which is half time. An interesting and at the same time hilarious part of this is the kiss cam, where people were expected to kiss the person nearest to them when their faces showed up on large screen televisions around the stadium. When the camera turned on them, people kissed or hugged each other, or got surprised by someone lunging to kiss them. Of course, you had those staunchly ignoring the camera, despite the coaxing of the commentator.
Sitting in the crowds, especially one consisting of mostly Collingwood supporters, the cheering (and the 'occasional' booing) is intense. When the ball is being passed down and nearing a goal, the rush and the roar is exhilarating.
In the crowds, you have the various different kinds of supporters, you have the 'commentators' who analyse every throw and cite the players' averages. There are 'coaches', who feel the need to voice their opinion on the match layout and whether or not a player should be in that position or whether they should be substituted off. By three-quarter time these two kinds of supporters generally combine forces, with their commentary and coaching becoming littered by many curses and interesting insults.
My favourite by far that day was "you ding-dong" in reference to a player who fumbled the ball. Then, you have supporters like me, who know the general rules of the games are to get ball away from the opponents end and down towards their end in between the two goal posts. So pretty much I was yelling or cheering most of the game. It is safe to say I ended up with a sore throat the next day. Singing the Collingwood anthem at the end of the match at the top of lungs didn't help either.