The Australian Football League. It’s treated like a deep spiritual experience by people living in Victoria and with mild bemusement in most other States. The oldest club is the Melbourne Demons, who were founded in 1859, but still don’t quite appear to know how to play the game.
And who can blame them? The AFL is famous for changing its rules constantly. Sometimes, controversially, rules get changed in the middle of the game. This actually happened in the 2006 Grand Final, when headbutting was briefly allowed for ten minutes.
The West Coast Eagles, fresh from a slightly long bathroom break, came out to the field, talking very fast and excitedly, and proceeded to headbutt into the ground – their opponents – the Sydney Swans. By the time the AFL Rules Tribunal decided that this new rule was dangerously far too simple, the Eagles had scored a goal and won the game.
So, with all that in mind, what are some of the basic terms you need to know to “get”, and I mean really “get”, AFL? Well, here they are.
AFL Terms You Really Need To Know
BLINDER: Part of the AFL’s commendable aims to make the game more inclusive has been to start a series of “handicapped” rounds. One infamous match pitted the blind against the deaf. Despite the fact that one team couldn’t see at all, full forward Jarryd Conner, who is 100% blind, kicked the match winning goal. It turned out later he thought he was merely passing back to his midfield. Ever since that time, when a blind person kicks a goal, its been called “ a blinder”. While “KUI” (Kicking Under the Influence) is frowned upon you can kick a goal with impaired vision and be highly commended.
CLANGER: This refers to the man whose job it is to Clang the Bells at the end of each quarter. Traditionally the clanging would tell how many players had died during that passage of play. So six clangs would mean six players dead, three fast clangs would mean a few orange boys and one prolonged loud clang would mean a whole club had been wiped out. Luckily, these days, since the changing of Rule 57, players no longer die so frequently during a match. So the Clanger’s role is now to clang the bell to indicate how many Sponsors have had successful click throughs during the ad break.
SPLITTING THE POSTS: Term used for when there’s an election of a new Clanger and it’s come down to postal votes. If the postal votes end in a tie then the posts are literally split. All the envelopes are cut in half and then quarters, and then eighths, until a winner is announced. Sometimes the votes become so microscopic and fragmented that everyone gives up and goes home.
TAKING THE MARK: This goes back to medieval times when AFL was first played, and people called Mark were considered to be bad luck. Back then, all the Marks would be driven from a club or the stadium and burnt at a stake. These days, nothing quite so dramatic happens! Usually Marks are just quietly asked to leave the grounds by police. The AFL is still deciding over whether people called Marc should also be expunged.
POSTER: Someone who goes onto an Internet Forum to give his or her opinion about a game. Usually these posts are polite and considered. Typically an AFL “poster” will spend two weeks of research on his or her post and check that they are factually correct before publishing it online. Rachael S’s post from 2016: “Collingwood are a buch of faggots” is a good example of this.
RUSHED BEHIND: This term comes from “locker room talk” before or after the game when the players are showering or towelling down. So if there’s a player whose bum is a bit flabby, the joke is that when God made their body he didn’t spend a lot of time on their bottom. Hence they have a rushed behind.
SPRAY: A fragrant mouth spray used at half time to ensure that each player’s breath remains attractive. Currently English Rose or Peppermint Musk are the top choices for most athletes.
THE BALL MAGNET: Person who has some deep and disturbing attraction to any kind of balls. From human balls, to round balls, or Winter Balls these sad people just like anything spherical. They will stand all day gazing transfixed at either the human, sports or Winter balls. Scientists are working hard to cure them of their illness by expanding their horizons to rhombuses or squares.
MINOR PREMIER: At the end of the regular season, the best child, aged under 12, is selected from the audience. This child usually has qualities such as strength, stamina and the ability to climb into asbestos riddled housing and remove dangerous electrical wiring. Many children compete for the honour to be the minor premier during ad breaks, half time, or just in low scoring, joyless tussles which no one is watching. It’s a very prestige position which all kids eagerly hope to be chosen for. Interestingly, many of the minors who have been chosen have never been seen again.
WOODEN SPOON: In the early days of AFL, before cups, trophies and sparkly bracelets, the winners of games would receive hand crafted cutlery to take home to their starving families. The ultimate was the Wooden Splade but a near second was the Wooden Spoon. Sadly this legendary object, which was once used to consume a day old yoghurt by the Essendon Bombers, has been missing for decades. Will anyone ever find it again? Both the Brisbane Lions and Carlton Blues have been sending out expeditions in recent years and are confident of taking it home.