Footy finals fever is well and truly in the air. Tension builds, favourite teams go head to head and anticipation fills the air.
As clubs navigate the ladder for a taste of the electric environment of Grand Final Day, we’re reminded of the magic of this great Aussie game.
In this blog, we’re cracking open the history books to take a look at the journey of Australian Rules Football over time.
One for the history books
The first game of what can loosely be described as Australian rules football first kicked off in 1858, on a school field. That’s right, 160 years ago.
Australian Football League recognises the match between Melbourne Grammar School and against Scotch College as the first recorded game.
The match was the culmination of the cricketing teams’ need to remain fit in the Winter off-season. The sport began is a creative blend of rugby, Irish Gaelic football, and early forms of soccer.
While today’s footy takes place on an oval field with set goal posts and an oval-shaped ball, this wasn’t always the case.
The dawn of football saw teams playing on large rectangular shaped fields. Players had to navigate around the trees that dotted the field and often used trees at either end of the field as goals. The most startling difference? The ball was round!
The early days
It’s an understatement to say there were a lot of gaps in the game in its early days.
For one, games weren’t timed initially. There was no set finish time and whichever team was scored two goals first would be declared the winner. In the earliest days, teams called it quits if it simply got too dark to play, if arguments and fights disrupted the game, or if the ball burst.
The AFL noted that the first match between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar lasted four hours until it got too dark. Even by then, each team had only scored two goals. They continued to play for eight hours the following week.
The start of an Aussie pastime
Although lacking refinement, it’s fascinating to look back on the roots of Aussie footy as the game that helped shaped a huge part of Australian culture. The game has now evolved even further by finally opening up the sport to women's teams, making the history books again with the introduction of an AFL Women’s season in 2017.
Since the early days, Aussies have a lot more structure and excitement to look forward to in modern-day AFL, meaning that events like the grand final have become ingrained in Aussie culture.
Where will you be watching the finals from? Gather your own team, settle in at The Groove Train and catch all the action over delicious food and drinks.