'So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be'. (Tennyson)
Published July 13th 2012
If you enjoy watching sport of all kinds on TV, get yourself off the couch and head out to watch Victoria's top Lacrosse teams in action. Premier League games are generally played at 2.30pm on Saturdays from mid-April to-mid September in city and suburban venues.
Lacrosse action (photo from lacrossevictoria.com.au)
If you aren't familiar with the game, it makes AFL seem like a slow and gentlemanly game. Think ice hockey on grass with throwing and catching at speed and and you're in the right territory.
The players are just a few metres away, looking like gladiators with their helmets and body padding. The game progresses at a cracking pace, with players running on and off at will (or so it seems) to inject some speed or to take a short breather. The goal is well inside the boundary, so even missed shots at goal rarely slow the game down.
It seems to a novice that almost anything goes. Kick the ball, throw the ball, run as far as you can without getting caught, whack your opponent as hard as you can on the chest or arms with your lacrosse stick: it all seems to be legal. Mind you there is a sin bin, and it is used, so there is obviously some method to the madness. Fortunately you don't have to know the rules to enjoy watching.
You can also watch women's teams in action on a Sunday. On either day there are a host of other matches to watch. Families may enjoy seeing juniors battle it out, with boys' and girls' competitions on Saturday and Sunday mornings respectively, and mixed teams of Under 12s.
I love the colour and movement of Lacrosse day. It is a real family atmosphere. Often you'll see the players' children and other juniors throwing and catching on the sidelines, or on the ground during the breaks. You can watch the game from different vantage points around the ground, and even take your dog with you for company or exercise. As with the game, pretty much anything goes it seems.
And the best part is, it costs you nothing to get in and watch any one of the matches, right through to the high octane Grand Finals.
A great place to watch is the historic Albert Ground in St Kilda Road, the home ground of the MCC Lacrosse section. A cricket ground established in 1865 seems perfect to watch a game that has been played in Melbourne since 1874. The old pavilion is part of its charm.
The Albert Ground is central and easy to find. There are plenty of other things to do in the area, with Albert Park Lake, MSAC, the Botanic Gardens, the city and cafes all within spitting distance.
Most clubs serve food in the old fashioned way: volunteers manning stalls with cheap prices. Passionate supporters of the sport, they create a welcoming atmosphere for players and spectators as well as raising money for their club.
Recently I took a young visitor from the country to watch a junior game. His response after just five minutes? 'I wish there was a Lacrosse club near me. I'd join up tomorrow.' Says it all really.