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VFL Football

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by Chris Shepherdson (subscribe)
I'm a copywriter and freelance writer living in Melbourne. My novel, Another New York Murder, is available online.
Published July 2nd 2013
No fuss sports entertainment
Winter means different things to all of us but to a vast majority of Melburnians –indeed Australians- it means a trip to the football, or footy as we call it. Everyone has a team, and for many of us it's the first step in identifying a person. If a person doesn't have a team they are apt to be viewed with suspicion, looking for some signal as to why they take no interest in football, but that's a discussion for another day. For us who love the footy, winter is a grand old time.


Like that other Melbourne obsession, coffee, Melburnians are also sticklers for how we take it. Some of us like it hard and fast, some of us slow and tough. For me, it's standing in the rain getting scolded by a nuclear pie, close enough to the action that I can hear the calls, smell the Deep Heat and feel every bump. It's football, pure and simple. It's the football we all remember, when the things we took for granted like being able to have a kick on the ground and hear the coach's address at the breaks were free to all of us. It's a place where we can enter with a pram or an umbrella without fear of confiscation. A place where the no plastic allocated seats intrude on the grassed areas to stand where we please as the stars of future generations kick small rubber footballs around us.

For the purists it's also a reminder to lament the way it is now, overly professional, played by overly manicured robotic gladiators who are but specks in the distance from a reasonably priced seat, as distant as movie stars on the screen or far away rock gods on a distant stage.

The large centrally located cathedrals of football are fine for the large crowds and mass appeal of this professional sport but for those of us more interested in an intimate and accessible experience, more akin to a pub gig than a stadium show, there's the VFL.

The VFL, (formerly the VFA when the AFL was known as the VFL), is the second tier competition below the AFL and also a feeder competition as many teams have an alignment with AFL teams. This means that not only can you see footy up close and personal but you can also watch the young and old at your club trying to impress and push for a spot, or to desperately hold on and prove they're not finished. Both of these scenarios make for sport at its purest.

A trip to the VFL also provides an opportunity to stride the hallowed battle fields of the glory days. From Visy Park/Princes Park, site of the infamous 1945 bloodbath grand final, across town to Victoria Park, former home of the Collingwood empire, to the newly refurbished and world class Skilled Stadium in Geelong. There's also the chance to grace the hallowed ground of VFA history, Teac Oval in Port Melbourne as well as other VFA fortresses, Preston City Oval, the picturesque Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham and the imaginatively named Frankston Oval. The VFL also spreads its wings to Bendigo, Ballarat, Williamstown and Cranbourne so, as they say in the classics, there's one near you.

Go to for full fixtures and info as well as links to all club websites.
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When: Weekends from April to September
Your Comment
Hi Chris,

Great article - you've really captured the essence of what's great about footy. I'm in the purists' camp, and if we lived in Melbourne it would definitely be trips to VFL games for our family.

In Brisbane we also love to get out to local footy. In fact I've spent a large part of my life following the exploits of four footy-playing sons around Brisbane and surrounds.
by Geraldine Massey (score: 3|8150) 2463 days ago
Nice article, but the SANFL is the best football competition in Australia outside of the AFL......

by James Newcombe (score: 2|359) 2463 days ago
Love the VFL! You also get to go onto the ground and listen to the coaches address at 1/4 and 3/4 time or even have a kick of the footy with your mates! I'm a passionate Williamstown Seagulls supporter and rarely miss a game!
Great write up Chris!
by jan.d (score: 2|109) 2452 days ago
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