Hugely anticipated by the many Australian ex-pats who live in the Napa Valley the AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final takes place on Friday September 30. The game will be shown live at Compadres Rio Grille in Napa with the “first bounce” scheduled for 9:30pm PST.
Aussie Rules or “footy”, as the game is known colloquially, is a game played professionally solely in Australia, with social leagues of varying skill levels in existence around the world. The closest league to the Napa Valley is in San Francisco where the Golden Gate Australian Football league is based.
The Grand Final is the Australian equivalent of the Superbowl here in the United States with millions tuning in to watch the game live on Saturday afternoon on the last weekend of September. The final has been held at the magnificent Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) almost every year since the early 1900’s and the Grand Final itself dates back to 1898 when the match was played at the Junction Oval in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda. Even with a capacity of just over 100,000 at the MCG tickets for the Grand Final are in demand and often change hands for many times face value.
The lineup for the September 30 game will be decided this coming weekend as the last four teams in contention line up in what is called Preliminary Finals, what are called Preliminary Finals, but essentially semi-finals of sorts. The Adelaide Crows take on the Geelong Cats in one game while the Richmond Tigers take on the Greater Western Sydney Giants in the other. The winners of each of these games will then face off in the Grand Final.
Aussie Rules traces its roots to 1858 in Melbourne and is generally thought to be a hybrid sport that draws its origins from other ball sports including soccer, rugby, and Gaelic Football – from Ireland – and is played on an oval-shaped field similar to a cricket field. The earliest leagues date back to the mid to late 1870’s and, at the highest professional level, the sport was concentrated mainly around Melbourne from then until the late 1980’s. Up until that time the sport went by the moniker – VFL – for Victorian Football league and was made up of clubs exclusively from the Australian state of Victoria. In 1990 the VFL became the AFL and a number of clubs from outside of Victoria were added to the league’s roster. One of the first clubs to be added was the West Coast Eagles, based out of Perth in Western Australia, who went on to win the Grand Final in 1992, and again in 1994.
Aussie Rules differs from many other field sports in that interchange substitutions are allowed during the game and these are controlled by a match official on the side. The oval-shaped ball is slightly rounder on the end than either a rugby or American football ball. This allows it to be both bounced while the player is running and kicked end over end so that it’s easier to be caught by a teammate. A player can score either 6 points (a goal) for kicking the ball through the middle two of four posts, or one point (a behind) if they kick the ball between the outer and inner of the four posts. The game is four quarters long with each quarter lasting 20 minutes of playing time, which often stretches to 30 minutes with the addition of stoppages, of playing time, which often stretches to 30 minutes with the addition of stoppages, and each team has 18 players on the field with four interchange subs on the side.
Compadres owner Rick Enos is excited to host the game again in 2017. “This will be our third year hosting the Grand Final in conjunction with the cricket club and it’s a great night,” said Enos “they bring a big crowd of Aussies who love their “footy” and pack the back room here at the restaurant for the night. There’s plenty of banter over the course of the evening as the back and forths of the game unfold”
Australian born Phil Bourke is a huge Aussie Rules fan and his team, the Geelong Cats, are in with a shot of making the big game this year. Bourke along with fellow Aussie Rob Bolch for years held Grand Final parties at their homes but their events grew to a size that they could no longer manage at their homes.
“Compadres have been great hosts for the Grand Final with plenty of space in their back room for everyone,” said Bourke “and in addition to food from their extensive menu we’ll be serving some Aussie style pies from Fair Dinkum Pies during the evening. The back bar will be stocked with beer from the cricket club’s sponsor Anchor Brewing and anyone who needs to know more about what’s happening on the screen can ask any of the folks wearing the colorful Aussie Rules jerseys of their favorite teams.”
Learn more in this What is AFL? Aussie Rules explained video.
Wikipedia Pages on AFL / Aussie Rules here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Football_League & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFL_Grand_Final & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Australian_rules_football
The Napa Valley Cricket Club wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the following sponsors