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Australian Rules Football
Essendon's Gary Moorcroft takes a "screamer"

"1859: The Aussies invent Australian Rules Football, a combination of soccer, rugby, and murdering people in cold blood."
The Onion, Our Dumb World

Rugby on a cricket pitch with extreme violence.

The dominant football code in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Rugby League is more popular in New South Wales (north of Wagga Wagga, which has been described as the "border" between Aussie Rules and Rugby territory) and Queensland, although there are AFL teams based there. In Victoria, especially Melbourne, Aussie Rules is not a religion, it's more important than that. Go ahead, try getting a taxi on Grand Final night.

Aussie Rules is ... umm ... what's the word? ... violent. Very, very violent. It's like Rugby turned Up to Eleven. The AFL has been trying to clean up the game's image and counteract this - certainly, the actions of players such as Robbie Muir, David Rhys-Jones and Jack "Captain Blood" Dyer would be unacceptable today. Still, even when they play by the rules, it's hard to watch without wincing. Those sissies in Mixed Martial Arts should give this sport a try.

Regardless of any on-field violence, though, Aussie Rules fans tend to be a civil lot. Despite stereotypes of Collingwood and Port Adelaide fans in particular, fans of different teams can mingle at the game and expect no more than a good-natured, if passionate, verbal stoush - hooliganism is virtually unknown.

Rules? There are rules other than POUND THE CRAP OUT OF WHOEVER HAS THE BALL? Well, yes:

  • The game is played on an oval-shaped field you could land an Airbus on; very often, this is a current or former cricket pitch. There are sets of goals at each far end, consisting of two bigger central posts and two smaller outer posts. A distance of 50 metres from each goal is marked by lines on the turf.
  • There are 18 players per side, plus a four-player bench - three of whom can freely enter and exit the game, while the fourth is a designated soccer-style substitute whose entry ends the replaced player's day. The 18 players on the field are constant (apart from the VFA, which had 16 on the field for a while, omitting the two wing players - there is some talk of adopting this in the AFL to reduce congestion); the number of substitutes and/or interchanges allowed gets changed every few years.
  • A football match is divided into four quarters of twentynote  minutes each, not including stoppage time. It begins in the centre of the field with an umpire bouncing the ball high into the air, at which point a player from each team (the "ruck", who is usually very tall) will jump up and try to punch the ball towards their own players. This also happens every time a goal is scored. (See below.)
  • Players are allowed to run with the ball, but must bounce or tap it on the ground every fifteen metres.
  • They can pass the ball by kicking or handballing it (i.e. tapping it away with the side of the fist, in a manner similar to a volleyball serve), but aren't allowed to throw it.
  • When the ball goes out of bounds, it is thrown back in by an umpire (who throws it backwards, over their head, so they cannot aim for particular players to catch it). Unless one side kicks it out of bounds on the full or does so very deliberately, in which case the opposition have a free kick.
  • Players are allowed to tackle whoever has the ball. Once tackled, the player in possession of the ball must dispose of it by kicking or handballing, or be penalised for "holding the ball". Just to confuse you, while tackling another player not in possession of the ball incurs a penalty for "holding the man", blocking, shepherding, or otherwise obstructing other players within five metres of the ball is perfectly OK.
  • Catching a ball that has been kicked over a distance of fifteen metres or more without bouncing is called a "mark", and automatically earns a free kick. Free kicks are also awarded as penalties.
  • Although it might seem that shots on goal are limited to inside the fifty metre line this isn't the case. Goals or points can be scored from any range, but most players know they probably won't succeed from beyond that distance so don't try. There is an experimental rule that gives nine points for goals kicked from outside fifty metres, but not currently used in the main competition.
  • Scoring: a goal is scored when the ball is kicked between the two central posts by the attacking team, without being touched by another player or hitting the post — this is worth six points. A behind is scored if the ball goes between the central and outer post, or hits a player or goal post on the way through, and is worth one point. Hitting the outer posts is worth no points. There is no restriction on how high the ball can go between the posts.

The biggest Australian Rules league by a massive margin is the Australian Football League, with the result that the game itself is commonly unofficially called "AFL". The AFL grew from the interstate expansion of the Victorian Football League, and currently has ten Victorian and eight interstate teams (two each from South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales). Of the interstate teams, one (the Sydney Swans) was a Victorian club that was forced to relocate, and another (the Brisbane Lions) was the result of another Victorian team merging with the Brisbane Bears. This setup has sparked significant conflict between the Victorian and interstate teams, with some Victorian teams (especially the smaller, poorer ones) feeling that the league is attempting to force them out to make way for more interstate teams), while those interstate accuse Victorians of thinking they own the league.

Below the AFL, there are a number of state leagues, the most important being the VFL (formerly the VFA, who took the acronym after the original VFL became the AFL), the SANFL, and the WAFL (pronounced "waffle". Mmm, waffles). Below that, there are a number of local leagues. The AFL has increased its efforts to promote the game for girls and women, with more suppourt for female players at grass roots level, and a women's match being played as a curtain-raiser to the Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs game in 2013. The AFL hopes to have a national-level women's competition running by 2020.

The eighteen teams of the AFL are:
  • Adelaide Crows (SA) - The only team Undefeated in Grand Finals
    • Joined League: 1991
    • Colours: Navy blue, red and gold
    • Premierships: 1997, 1998
    • Supporter stereotype: Rich, chardonnay-drinking snobs, which doesn't prevent them from being yobbos. The Rival of Port Power, not that anyone else cares.
      • They've built a fanbase among Aussie Rules fans in the USA thanks to their use (with club-themed lyrics) of the Marine Corps Hymn as their theme song.
  • Brisbane Lions (Qld) - Formed by the merger of the Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy Lions.
    • Joined League: 1897 (Fitzroy), 1987 (Brisbane Bears), 1997 (clubs merged)
    • Colours: Maroon, blue and gold
    • Premierships: (As Fitzroy) 1898, 1899, 1904, 1905, 1913, 1916, 1922, 1944 (As Brisbane Lions) 2001, 2002, 2003
    • Supporter stereotype: Fair-weather fans who don't know much about the game, and only pay attention in years when Brisbane are doing well.
      • Unless they're actually Victorian. The club has a loyal fan base in Melbourne, mostly people who followed Fitzroy before the merger. Most fans attend the few games Brisbane have in Victoria (usually five or six), and an amateur team picked up the Fitzroy name. Fitzroy supporters were legendarily (read: insanely) loyal (before the merger, that is - a lot of them gave up in disgust at that point), and the team was generally well-liked by supporters of other teams in a perpetual underdog kind of way. As the bard of Aussie Rules, Greg Champion put it: "deep in our hearts, we all barrack for Fitzroy".
  • Carlton Blues (Vic)
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Colours: Navy blue (with white monogram)
    • Premierships: 1906, 1907, 1908, 1914, 1915, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1995
    • Supporter stereotype: Rich snobs, usually of Italian background. Possibly have mafia connections.
      • Also seen, these days, as fair weather fans - as the Grand Final tally demonstrates, Carlton enjoyed a long season of fair weather prior to 1996. Since then, the team has frequently failed to even make the finals, and many of the less stalwart fans have deserted it.
  • Collingwood Magpies (Vic) - The most hated team in the league.
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Colours: Black and white
    • Premierships: 1902, 1903, 1910, 1917, 1919, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1936, 1953, 1958, 1990, 2010. (Collingwood holds the record for most Grand Finals lost with 26. And drawn with 2 (1977 and 2010).)
    • Supporter stereotype: Loud, obnoxious yobbos with an IQ in single digits, who don't know the rules of the game and leave early whenever their team looks set to lose the match. Being in the presence of said supporters is likely to result in severe IQ loss. Yanks, think Oakland Raiders supporters. Brits, think Liverpool supporters (or just Football Hooligans in general).
      • The 2010 Grand Final between St. Kilda and Collingwood has been described by some as "Australia vs. Collingwood".
      • Nearly any game played by Collingwood, but especially Grand Finals, will see supporters of pretty much every other team barracking for whoever is playing Collingwood to win, on the basis that whoever they are, at least they're not Collingwood.
  • Essendon Bombers (Vic)
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Colours: Black and red
    • Premierships: 1897, 1901, 1911, 1912, 1923, 1924, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1962, 1965, 1984, 1985, 1993, 2000
    • Supporter stereotype: Arrogant, even when they're near the bottom of the ladder. Also very rebellious, occasionally claiming that the league is in a conspiracy against them, especially during their 2013 performance enhancing drugs scandal. During this scandal, they grew to be seen as near cultists due to their blind support of their administration and coach, despite the sheer weight of evidence against them. "Stand By Hird" was used as a rallying cry.
      • To be fair, there were actually at least a couple of years around 2000 where Essendon were nailed, bolted and hard welded to the TOP of the ladder... In effect, the Bombers had a golden age and now it has passed. This helps to explain the arrogance...
  • Fremantle Dockers (WA) - The only side to have never won a premiership, at least until Gold Coast joined the league in 2011 and GWS the following year.
    • Joined League: 1995
    • Colours: Purple and white, formerly purple, red, white and green. One of their club presidents is quoted as saying, "Our colours don't clash with any other team's. They just clash with each other."
    • Supporter stereotype: Lefties, whether they be trades unionists or the chardonnay socialist crowd.
  • Geelong Cats (Vic)
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Colours: Navy blue and white
    • Premierships: 1925, 1931, 1937, 1951, 1952, 1963, 2007, 2009, 2011
    • Supporter stereotype: Farmers and other people who live in the countryside or bogans from Geelong's seedy ghetto-like suburbs, almost every single person you will ever meet from the city of Greater Geelong, unless they support Collingwood
      • Extremely touchy about being the only non-capital city team (until the Gold Coast got going). This has led to their supporters becoming almost as fanatical as the Collingwood supporters, only orders of magnitude more popular with Australian society.
      • Extremely violent when the team is not doing well. Marginally less so when they are. Cats posters in G-town shop windows are disturbingly reminiscent of "no Jews or dogs allowed". Hilarity Ensues when an obnoxious loud-mouthed Collingwood fan... does anything or says anything about football during the season, when the signs are up all over the place, it's probably one of the few cases where being Too Dumb to Live results in the police intervening because from a legal standpoint the Collingwood fan is committing An act that no person, sober and sound of mind, would partake in.
      • Extremely everything football; the social scene of the whole city revolves around the sport and their club, just about everyone supports the Cats and the few exceptions to this rule are almost always Collingwood supporters. The club itself is an exception to the binge drinking, substance abuse, brutal nightclub assaults, brutal leaving-the-party-with-someone-else's-barely-conscious-partner assaults, brutal hotel-room assaults and brutal on-field assaults. Seriously though, the Geelong Football club has a complete absence of these incidents that are dogging other clubs in the league, probably because these acts are considered an average night on the town for their supporter base. In truth, part of the reason for the sobriety of the players is the bizarre (and prevailing) view amongst the (tragically) large bogan population of Geelong that bashing a Geelong football player in a nightclub or any other nightlife venue somehow entitles them to take their place in the team.
  • Gold Coast Suns (Qld)
    • Joined League: 2011
    • Colours: Red, gold, sky blue
    • Supporter stereotype: Fairweather fans, similar to Brisbane. The Suns really began to catch the eye of southern Queensland when they started to play competitively in 2013, rather than their lacklustre efforts in 2011 and 2012.
  • Greater Western Sydney Giants (NSW)
    • Joined League: 2012
    • Colours: Orange, charcoal and white
    • Supporter stereotype: They don't have any supporters, and people that do attend their matches only show up because the AFL hands out thousands of free tickets to every match. Their home games against the Sydney Swans (the other Sydney team) result in what looks like a Swans home game, and the eventual pitied golf clapping from the Swans fans as they go down by at least fifty points. Kind of like the Phoenix Coyotes, except having an ice hockey team in the desert makes more sense than this.
    • At least until Round 1, 2014 when they beat their cross-town rivals comfortably and suddenly fans started to take notice.
      • Also Canberrans, as the team plays a few home games a season there. Somewhat strangely, these are the only games that tend to sell out.
  • Hawthorn Hawks (Vic)
    • Joined League: 1925
    • Colours: Brown and gold
    • Premierships: 1961, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2008, 2013, 2014
    • Supporter stereotype: Upper-middle class Liberal-Party-voting types. Run by a former Liberal state premier.
      • As well as Tasmanians. Well, they do play a few home games there...plans are to hopefully have the team become fully Tasmanian.
      • Not a powerhouse like some of the other teams such as Collingwood or Geelong, but they're quietly capable of holding their own against them.
      • Jeff Kennett, the former State Premier who is President of the club, was a divisive figure as Premier and remains one today. Oddly, this has had the effect of making non-Liberal-voting Hawks fans more philosophical about defeat: sure, Hawthorn lost, but at least that means Kennett's unhappy.
  • North Melbourne Kangaroos (Vic)
    • Joined League: 1925
    • Colours: Royal blue and white
    • Premierships: 1975, 1977, 1996, 1999
    • Supporter stereotype: What supporters?
      • More accurately: Tough-as-nails, but not necessarily bright, football tragics.
      • Possibly The Woobie to non-Australians. Finding an Australian that is sympathetic to the club's plight is difficult because they'll either support another team, fanatically, or dislike the sport as a whole.
      • The second team payed sixty million to become Hobart's team and play four games a year in the struggling Tasmania. Now, to have the Grand Final played at Aurora Stadium...
  • Melbourne Demons (Vic) - Oldest Professional Sporting Club in the world.
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Colours: Red and navy blue
    • Premierships: 1900, 1926, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964
    • Supporter stereotype: Old money types who own Range Rovers despite never going out of the city, except to go skiing, which is what they do instead of attending games.
  • Port Adelaide Power (SA)
    • Joined League: 1997
    • Colours: Black, white, teal (presumably to make Freo feel better about their ugly shirts)
    • Premierships: 2004 (36 more in the South Australian National Football League)
    • Supporter stereotype: Much the same as Collingwood, except living in Adelaide. The club's state-league branch, which predates the national league by a century or so, is even called the Magpies. And its guernsey design there is usually described as "prison bars". The Rival of the Crows.
      • Considered a Joke Character or One Trick Pony after their humiliating hundred-point loss to Geelong in the 2007 Grand Final, but after an impressive 2013 and 2014 season, Port Adelaide seem to be improving. In fact, in 2014 they got within 4 points of making the Grand Final.
  • Richmond Tigers (Vic)
    • Joined League: 1908
    • Colours: Black and yellow
    • Premierships: 1920, 1921, 1932, 1934, 1943, 1967, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1980
    • Supporter stereotype: Working class "bogans" (for those in the US, think "white trash", for those in the UK think "Chav" or more precisely "Diet Chav-lite"). Also, in the past decade or so, hold very high hopes for the Tigers to go deep into finals, only to have them fall just short of even making finals. Didn't make the finals between 2001 and 2013. When they did make the finals in 2013, they lost to a team that technically didn't make the finals.
  • St Kilda Saints (Vic)
    • Joined League: 1897
    • Colours: Black, white and red
    • Premierships: 1966
    • Supporter stereotype: Long-suffering. Kind of like Chicago Cubs supporters in the USA...
      • Once again, potentially explainable by the fact that the Saints are often nailed, bolted and hard welded to the bottom of the ladder. This was particularly true during Essendon's heyday around the year 2000...
      • It goes back further than that. The Saints have only ever won one flag, and hold the records for the longest losing streak and most wooden spoons (last-place finishes) in the league.
      • It gets worse. They have been playing since 1873. 1873. Their first premiership flag was won in 1966, by one point. These poor buggers average worse than one premiership a century.
      • Their chance at a second flag in 2010, has resulted in two games; the first was a draw. The second was a loss.
      • The rest of Australia (barring, of course, Collingwood supporters) offered their condolences on such a tragic occasion.
  • Sydney Swans (NSW - Formerly South Melbourne)
    • Joined League: 1897 as South Melbourne - Relocated to Sydney in 1982
    • Premierships: In South Melbourne: 1909, 1918, 1933. In Sydney: 2005, 2012.
    • Colours: Red and white
    • Supporter stereotype: See Brisbane. Any non-bandwagon NSW Swans fans are also painfully middle to upper-middle class and the kind of people who applaud good play from the other team, gently chide Collingwood supporters not to swear, and refer to the players as "Mr Last Name." Alternate type: Someone who's been following them for at least three decades and still thinks they're South Melbourne.
      • Possibly one of the least interesting and most ignored teams in the sport. Not that they suck much anymore, but because NSW has Rugby League which supplies arguably more interesting scandals involving sex, drugs and (too) masculine professional athletes.
      • They have become a challenger for Collingwood's title of the most hated team in the league due to their poaching of other team's players, and their salary cap situation, as they receive a "Cost of Living Allowance" on top of the regular salary cap.
  • West Coast Eagles (WA)
    • Joined League: 1987
    • Colours: Blue and gold
    • Premierships: 1992, 1994, 2006
    • Supporter stereotype: Similar to Hawthorn, but living in Perth.
      • Rarely receives much media attention unless it was Ben Cousins getting busted for drugs (before getting sacked), someone else getting busted for drugs or a sexual assault charge, which has led to an unfair perception in the Eastern States Victoria of the club as a mob of testosterone-powered fratboys who 'roid rage when they're not high on recreational drugs. Well, moreso than the rest of the league.
  • Western Bulldogs (Vic - Formerly Footscray)
    • Joined League: 1925
    • Colours: Red, white and royal blue
    • Premierships: 1954 (as Footscray)
    • Supporter stereotype: Similar to Richmond, with St Kilda's "long suffering" element added. Also has a similar cliché of supporters in the Asian migrant community, although unlike the Richmond group, these ones seem to understand the game, or at least get worked up enough about losing to torch the odd car when things go worse then what is normal by the club's standards.
      • By "The Saints' long-suffering element", read "won exactly one premiership, longer ago than St Kilda did, and haven't played in a grand final in fifty years".
      • They did get to the preliminary final in 2009, but were knocked out by St Kilda. We take solace in the fact that Collingwood were knocked out in the same week. By Geelong. The fact that St Kilda then lost the grand final doesn't make it any better.
      • The former prime minister, Julia Gillard, is a fervent supporter. Make of that what you will.

  • One other club, University, was part of the VFL from 1908 to 1915. Several clubs went into temporary remission during World War I, but University was the only one that never returned to the league. Sides representing Melbourne University now participate in the Victorian Amateur Football Association.

  • 'Joined the league' dates are of the clubs participation in the AFL and not the VFL established dates that many clubs were technically formed.

The introduction of the GWS Giants and the Gold Coast Suns is part of an effort on the part of the AFL to increase their profile in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, which primarily follow rugby league as their football code. For a while, the Gold Coast team was going to be a relocated North Melbourne, but this fell through when they decided they didn't fancy moving after all (this came after years where the club had renamed itself simply the "Kangaroos Football Club" and were living in a limbo between representing North Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Canberra and Mars). After that particular debacle, the two new clubs were founded from scratch.

Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory don't have full-time representation in professional football, despite the game being extremely popular in the former two. Tasmania has launched a campaign to get a team of their own in the AFL too, after decades of seeing all their best players have to move interstate to play at the top level. Even though Tasmania has produced some genuine AFL talent, the AFL doesn't take 'calls' for a Tasmanian team seriously. While no teams call Tasmania or the territories home, the AFL plays regular-season games in each area. Hawthorn plays about a third of its home schedule in Launceston (Tasmania) while North Melbourne hosts a couple of games in Hobart. Darwin (Northern Territory) gets about two games a year, and GWS has a second home in Canberra (Australian Capital Territory).

In the media:
  • The Club - Play and movie
  • The Great Macarthy - movie
  • Australian Rules - movie
  • Specky Magee - book series
  • And The Big Men Fly - TV series
  • A commercial for Commonwealth Bank mixed this with making fun of Americans by showing an American marketing company confusing this with American football.
    American Marketing Guy: We have sponsored a football game between the Americans and the Australians.
    Aussie Bank Guy: Wait. Aussie Rules Football?
    American (offended): Oh. Well, maybe we think we rule football.
  • Tigers and Devils, an incredibly well-written Queer Romance by Sean Kennedy centring around a Rules footy player and his boyfriend-cum-long term partner as they struggle with publicity and coming out.
  • Round the Twist had an episode where Pete temporarily became a local footy star, and it being set in Victoria the type of footy was...

Australian Rules Football provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Acceptable Targets: A staggeringly large number of people consider Collingwood and all it stains to be this, doesn't help that Collingwood fans will often justify that view and generally have the same view towards everyone else, ever.
    • After advising any closeted gays in the League to stay right where they were, former Western Bulldogs player Jason Akermanis became an acceptable target to many.
  • Alliterative Name: St Kilda Saints, South Melbourne/Sydney Swans, Hawthorn Hawks, Brisbane Bears, Port Adelaide Power, and Greater Western Sydney Giants.
  • Animal Motifs:
  • Arch Enemies: Carlton and Collingwood. This stems from their home suburbs' class warfare (White collar Carlton and Blue collar Collingwood), and 120 years of bitter rivalry. The fact that Carlton has won all but one of the grand finals that the two teams have contested only feeds the fire.
    • In fact, every other team and Collingwood.
    • Other rivalries include The Crows vs Port Power, which comes from lower SANFL competition rivalry of Port Adelaide vs everyone else its very similar to how Collingwood are treated in the national competition, except less people involved.
    • Fremantle and the West Coast Eagles have a strong rivalry as well.
    • Geelong and Hawthorn, particularly since the 2008 grand final.
  • Artifact Title: As the AFL expanded from a Victorian to a national competition, many Victorian clubs lost their connections to the suburbs they were named after. Collingwood, Hawthorn and St Kilda no longer have any ties to their namesake suburbs, and (except for Melbourne) the rest of the suburban grounds are used only for training and social purposes (the league's nine Melbourne-based teams have a grand total of two home stadiums).
  • Ascended Meme:
    • Richmond's nickname of the Tigers was adopted after their colours of yellow and black inspired fan cries of "Eat 'em alive, Tigers!". The "Yellow and black!" interjection in their theme song also originally came from the fans.
    • Geelong's nickname of "the Cats" comes from a story about a black cat crossing the ground and Geelong winning the match.
    • Collingwood's nickname of "the Magpies" comes from the reputation of the Collingwood area at the time of the team's founding (and indeed, for decades thereafter): it was widely seen as the home of thieves and other criminals, hence the Magpie symbolism.
    • Sydney's nickname of "the Swans" came from insulting comments made back when they were South Melbourne and had several Western Australians in the side. The Swan is WA's state emblem.
    • Essendon's nickname of "the Bombers" came in the 1940's when the team's ground being close to the Essendon Aerodome was mocked. Naturally they took it as their name.
  • Awesome McCoolname: The Ocean Grove Dinosaurs in the Geelong Football League and the East Brighton Vampires in the Southern Football League.
  • Bar Sinister: Essendon and Richmond's jumpers.
  • Bias Steamroller: Arguably, Eddie McGuire commentating on AFL games involving Collingwood, given that he's the current President of the club. In his current commentating duties, he is prohibited from such games.
    • On a couple of occasions, cable channel Fox Footy has given Eddie free reign in the commentary box during Collingwood matches as interactive content, offering viewers a choice between his commentary or the regular commentators. They also did this for a Richmond match, with Richmond legend Kevin Bartlett at the mike.
  • Big Entrance: Each team runs onto the field accompanied by their Football Fight Song (see below), and run through a giant banner made out of crepe paper reading some sort of short, confidence-boosting and/or rhyming piece on both sides.
    • Banners will also recognise players in milestone games, eg. 50, 100, 150 etc.
  • Blasphemous Praise: Both inverted and played straight: During the 1970s a church in Hawthorn put up a sign saying, "What would you do if Jesus Christ came to Hawthorn today?", under which an footy fan graffiti'd, "Move Peter Hudson note  to centre half forward!". Upon hearing of this, Hudson jokingly complained that Jesus had never attended a single training session. The historian Professor Ian Turner often told that story during his speaking engagements and noted that: "When I tell the story outside Hawthorn, they ask ‘Who’s Peter Hudson’? When I tell the story in Hawthorn, they ask 'Who's Jesus Christ'?"
    • At the peak of his career, Geelong forward Gary Ablett Sr. was nicknamed 'God' for his goalkicking and his many speckies. Being a devout Christian, Ablett himself hated the nickname.
      • And the Hudson anecdote becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when you realise that Ablett began his career at Hawthorn before being transferred to the Cats.
  • Book Ends: In the 2012 Grand Final, Sydney midfielder Nick Malceski scored his team's first goal with a snap kick from the boundary line. Come the final minute of the game, Malceski did the same thing, scoring the last goal to give Sydney a ten-point lead with forty seconds left.
  • Bonus Points / Pandering to the Base: In the pre-season tournament, nine points are given to "Super" goals kicked from outside the 50 metre arc, instead of the regular six.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Almost every club song qualifies. The only one that might qualify as an exception is Hawthorn's.
  • Brand Name Takeover: Played with - the ball is often called a "Sherrin", after the manufacturer, because Sherrin has the exclusive contract to supply balls for AFL games. Outside of AFL play and commentary, it's rare to hear it called that.
  • Broken Base: Amongst Essendon fans - Is Kevin Sheedy the greatest coach in the history of the game, or an overrated, self-hyped man who should have won more premierships for the club than he did?
    • Fremantle following the 2010 review in which the club changed the jumper, logo, name and colours without a members vote. See the club's Facebook page for the ongoing battle.
    • The sub rule introduced in 2011 seems to have caused this.
    • Essendon vs the rest of the League over the drug scandal of 2013.
  • Burial at Sea: The Fremantle Dockers' theme song includes the line "We're gonna send 'em to the bottom!"
  • Crossover: The International Rules series, where the best AFL players square off with Ireland's best Gaelic footballers in an Aussie Rules/Gaelic Football mash-up.
    • As Gaelic football has a lot in common with Aussie Rules (and may have been an influence on its development), a number of Irish footballers have crossed over and played for teams in the AFL, mostly notably Melbourne's Jim Stynes and 2005 Sydney premiership player Tadhg Kennelly.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Apart from the obvious being Grand Final matches, real Crowning Moments Of Awesome crop up when clubs with several decades of failing to get a sniff of a premiership, win the Grand Final.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: "Up There Cazaly..."there's also More Than a Game from The Footy Show, One Day in September, and That's The Thing About Football. Mainstream songs Stand Tough by Point Break, You're Unbelievable by EMF and Thanks for the Memories by Fall Out Boy have been used as unofficial anthems, with Holy Grail having stuck as the main theme.
  • Cuckoolander Commentator: Rex Hunt.
  • Darker and Edgier: Footscray's theme song had the lines "We'll come out smiling, whether we win or lose". When they changed their name to the Western Bulldogs, it was changed to "We'll come out snarling, Bulldogs through and through."
  • Dark Horse Victory: In 1986, the game's highest individual honor, the Brownlow Medal, was won by Robert DiPierdomenico. In his acceptance speech, he said, "I gave myself no chance and only came along for the food".
  • Down to the Last Play: Reasonably common. When a player has taken a mark or received a free kick, the clock continues to count down while they prepare to take their kick but, if the time runs out in the meantime, they can still take the kick. This has led to many games being decided by a kick for goal after the final siren, literally the last play of the day.
  • Enemies Equals Greatness: Collingwood seems to take pride in how much fans of other teams hate them. One commercial had fans of other teams talking about how much they hate Collingwood, with a voiceover at the end saying, "Give 'em the bird. Sign up for Magpies membership today."
    • Hawthorn was also hated by fans of other clubs during their period of dominance in the 80s.
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out
    • Collingwood's "colliwobbles" from 1958 to 1990. After they beat Essendon in 1990, the Carlton cheer squad decided to rub salt into Essendon's wounds by having their banner next season riff on Essendon sponsor TAC's slogan: "If you lose to Collingwood in a grand final, you're a bloody idiot."
    • Geelong from 1989 to 2007
    • St Kilda - Involved in 4 Grand Finals in 2 years (incl. 1 pre-season + the replay). Didn't win a single one.
    • Currently, it's the Western Bulldogs, who have lost their last seven preliminary finals.
  • Determinator: every team has one or two in their history, but the most infamous are Jack 'Captain Blood' Dyer (Richmond Tigers) and 'Lethal' Leigh Matthews (Hawthorn Hawks) - both of whom played more than 300 games each for their respective teams, which is even more impressive when you consider how often they were each suspended after violent incidents; and Ron Barassi. Barassi is one of the game's most iconic figures - see under Genre Turning Point below for just one example of his influence.
  • Dork Age: Several clubs have them:
    • The Brisbane Bears' early period, where the team was based on the Gold Coast, had the awful "angry koala" jumers, and was consistently on or near the bottom of the ladder.
    • Carlton in the 2000s, after the discovery of major salary cap violations forced the club into a rebuilding period. As of 2012, the club seems to be emerging from this period.
    • Collingwood's "Colliwobbles" between 1958 and 1990, including Grand Final losses in 1964, 1966, 1970, 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1981.
    • Essendon in the seventies - some fans use "seventies Essendon" as a derogatory term to refer to a poor performance by the team. This dork age ended when Kevin Sheedy took over as coach.
    • Melbourne from 1965 to 1988. When Norm Smith was controversially sacked as coach in 1965, he predicted the club would never win another premiership, which they have yet to do. They did manage to make the Grand Final again in 1988, though (as well as 2000).
    • For Richmond, pretty much everything after the club last made a grand final in 1982 - since then, they have been seemingly permanently mired in the bottom half of the ladder, through an endless succession of coaches.
    • Although, Richmond's troubles aren't as bad as St Kilda's who have had similar success but have only ever won one grand final.
    • Fremantle appear to still be in their Dork Age, yet to win a grand final. Although they certainly look better when compared to newcomers Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.
    • Adelaide had a period where the common joke note  was that they were going to be renamed the Koala's, as they did great at home but got killed on the road. Then they got a new coach by the name of Malcolm Blight.
    • Since Port Adelaide's abysmal performance against Geelong in the 2007 grand final note  they have not done well.
  • Epic Fail: Essendon's 1948 Grand Final defeat. It's not just that this was the first Grand Final ever to end in a draw, it's that Essendon kicked 7.27.69 to Melbourne's 10.9.69 - in other words, they had nearly twice as many scoring shots as Melbourne did for the same end result. They went on to lose the replay the following week. The Epic part of the Fail comes from how easily they could have won: if any of literally 27 kicks had been better targeted in the first match, they would have been the Premiers.
  • Fandom Berserk Button: Whether you're in a part of Australia dominated by Aussie Rules or Rugby League, do not confuse the two.
  • Fandom Heresy: Do you barrack for Collingwood? No? Then it is compulsory to loathe them and deride their fans as obnoxious cretins.
    • Do you barrack for Collingwood? Yes? Then it is compulsory to loathe everyone and deride their fans as obnoxious cretins.
    • Do you barrack for Geelong? Yes? Then it is compulsory to rage at Collingwood and deride their fans as degenerate scum.
  • Fandom Rivalry: As well as several rivalries between fans of the various clubs, there is a four-way rivalry between fans of Aussie Rules, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Soccer. It is worth pointing out that while fans take their rivalries very seriously, you don't see barbed wire separating the supporters of different teams in Aussie Rules crowds, nor are divisions of riot police needed to stop battles in the streets.
    • Notable rivalries are the fans of the two Adelaide based clubs, Collingwood fans vs. Geelong fans (including: over who is the most batshit insane group of sports fans, over who copied whose colour scheme...) and Collingwood fans vs. Insert Club name here fans, really having a rivalry with the Collingwood fandom is like death or taxes, the Geelong rivalry stands out because Collingwood is a Berserk Button for turning the Geelong fandom into being just as fanatically batshit insane.
    • A classic instance was created by Port Melbourne and Williamstown in the old VFA. The two suburbs were located on opposite sides of the mouth of the Yarra River. On the Williamstown foreshore there was a massive old cannon battery pointing out to the bay, which Williamstown fans managed to turn around so that it pointed directly at Port Melbourne's home ground.
    • The rivalry between the AFL and NRL escalated when the AFL managed to sign Brisbane Broncos players Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau to the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney respectively. Needless to say, most rugby league and Brisbane Broncos supporters were unimpressed.
      • Folau would leave the AFL after one sign with the NRL's other rival, the Super Rugby. Most AFL fans were pleased as Folau was not that good.
    • The press have been trying to drum up a rivalry between Geelong and Hawthorn, but it's fairly one-sided, felt more by Geelong than Hawthorn. Hawthorn last defeated Geelong in 2008, and the Cats swore never to lose to them again, which they haven't. It probably has something to do with the 2008 Grand Final, for which Geelong was the odds-on favourite, and which Hawthorn won, and the 1989 Grand Final, which is regarded as one of the all-time classic G Fs, and Hawthorn also won. Hawthorn's defeat of Geelong in the 2013 Preliminary Final, followed by their Grand Final victory the next week, will probably see Geelong continuing the rivalry into 2014 and beyond...
    • Adelaide and Port Adelaide have had a very passionate rivalry since the inception of Port Adelaide, coming from the state competition team of the Port Magpies being the team everyone loves to hate and their behaviour trying to get into the AFL being, less than fair/legal. In fact entering the competition was illegal, however by the time the state body (SANFL) could have had a court decision Port Adelaide would have been able to play for one or two years anyway, assuming that the decision went against them.
  • Football Fight Song: Every club, from the AFL to the local under-8s, has one of these. Here is a compilation of the AFL ones.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In 2013, Essendon's slogan was "Whatever it takes". Then news of the doping scandal broke.
  • Genre Turning Point: The 1970 VFL Grand Final, where Carlton, under Ron Barassi, managed a come-from-behind win by using a play style that focused on handpassing as opposed to kicking. Ever since, handpassing has been much more prominent.
  • Golden Snitch: In the 1916 VFL season, due to World War One, there were only four teams competing note . Consequently, every team made the Final Four, including Fitzroy, who had won only two games in the regular season. Fitzroy then managed to win all of its games in the finals and take the premiership.
  • In Name Only: The Brisbane Bears were a team whose original home ground was 70km from Brisbane, and whose mascot was a koala.
  • Insult Backfire: North Melbourne's Fan Nickname of the "Shinboners" came about due to the team having a reputation for kicking opponents in the shins. Also, Geelong's and Collingwood's nicknames of the Cats and the Magpies respectively. (see Ascended Meme, above)
    • Actually, North Melbourne's "Shinboner" nickname comes from the early days of the club, when the players were characterised as all working for the abattoirs as well as being rough players.
    • Essendon got their nickname of "The Bombers" in the WW2 era as their playing field was near the Essendon Aerodome. This is Hilarious in Hindsight now days.
    • Similarily, Sydney got it's nickname of the Swans, back when they where South Melbourne. In the early 1930's South Melbourne had many players from interstate, especially Western Australia. They got the nickname of "The Foreign Legion" and "The Swans" as the black swan is WA's state emblem. This stuck on account of South Melbourne being near Albert Park and Lake, which at the time had white swans. The name continues today even though the team has moved from Melbourne.
  • Ironic Nickname: "Delicate" Des Dickson, Hawthorn player in the 60s. Did you see how, in the intro, we mentioned that the actions of players such as Robbie Muir and David Rhys-Jones would be unacceptable today? Add him to that list.
  • Large Ham: Radio commentator Rex Hunt.
    • TV commentator Dennis Commetti occasionally goes into this territory as well.
    • Several now-retired players also fit the bill in their playing days, notably 'Big' Carl Ditterich and Peter 'Percy' Jones. Conversely, Robert 'Dipper' Dipierdimenico and Lou Richards mostly entered Large Ham territory as they became media figures after retiring.
  • Memetic Mutation: Keven Sheedy's jacket wave has become an institution in Essendon-West Coast games.
    • Barry Hall's hit on Brent Staker.
      • Barry Hall, period. He's the Zinedine Zidane of AFL memes.
    • Collingwood fans: "Deaf, dumb, blind and stupid/Spineless, gutless, brainless, heartless/And their heads and bums are interchangeble"
      • Magpie fans being escaped prisoners/convicted criminals/potential criminals/thugs/involved in the Melbourne gang war/the list goes on...
      • Apart from the gang war bit, that entire sentence can also be applied to Port, though only if you're talking to a Crows supporter.
      • And the Crows are this if you ask most Port supporters.
  • Miracle Rally: Most famously, the 1970 Grand Final, where Carlton came back from 44 points down at half-time to beat Collingwood by 10 points. The game is something of a legend in Australian Rules cirles, mainly thanks to Ted Hopkins' performance in the second half.
    • Also, Essendon's comeback against North Melbourne in 2001, where the Bombers came back from 69 points down to win by 12; the single biggest comeback in VFL/AFL history.
    • In 2014, Richmond were at one point on 3 wins and 10 losses. They won their last nine games of the regular season to gain entry into the finals with a record of 12-10.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Whenever Melbourne suffers a major loss, the newspaper headline will inevitably be something like "Dee-saster" or "Dee-stroyed".
    • Also, there usually is a giant amount of puns on "Giants" every time Greater Western Sydney lose heavily (such as "Giant Killers", or "Giant Defeat").
    • No Sydney player's final game is ever anything but a "Swan song".
  • Never Live It Down: In the early '80s, John Burke pushed over an umpire and attacked a spectator. He was given a ten year suspension, effectively ending his career, but the footage has been circulating ever since. Commentator "Slug" Jordan's "He's done well, the boy" in response to the incident hasn't helped.
    • Other examples include Jeff Potter (the guy who had his handpass intercepted by Barry Breen in the 1966 grand final) and Graeme Jenkin (the guy who Alex Jesaulenko took his famous mark over in the 1970 Grand Final)
    • After the 2008 grand final Jeff Kennett's statements about the merits of Hawthorn over Geelong have lead to a determination from the Cats to never loose to the Hawks, and they haven't since. It's been dubbed the 'Kennett Curse' - although as the 2013 finals series, it appears to be over.
    • Even though the fallout from the 2012 Essendon supplements scandal isn't over yet, it's already showing signs of being this for the club.
  • The Nicknamer: Radio commentator Rex Hunt.
  • Nice Hat / Iconic Item: Until about 1990, the goal umpires wore long-sleeved white coats, black trousers, and a white wide-brimmed hat. Today the uniforms are similar to those worn by association football referees, with a bright short-sleeved shirt and cap.
  • Prophetic Names: Derek and Dale Kickett
  • Replacement Scrappy: When the Fitzroy Lions were forced to merge with the Brisbane Bears to become the Brisbane Lions at the end of the 1996 season, many Fitzroy fans saw the new entity as this... at least, until they won the premiership in 2001, and then went on to make it three in a row in the next two years.
  • Retraux: The AFL's "heritage round" has teams wear old-style versions of their guernseys. Hawthorn fans seemed to particularly like their heritage strip, and there is a push for the team to change back to it permanently.
    • After the Western Bulldogs wore their Heritage strip (the one they wore during their only Premiership year) the club decided to return to it the following year.
    • To celebrate 100 years the entire AFL had this turned Up to Eleven, with the clubs using the original gurneys and music and everything possible from the presentation to the grounds to the cars done to wind back the clock to the 1890s.
  • Riding the Bomb: The WEG poster for Essendon's 1984 premiership shows Kevin Sheedy doing this.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: Foreigners often confuse Aussie Rules and Rugby, and Aussie Rules enjoys a similar reputation.
  • She Panned Him, Now She Sucks: When news broke that Essendon players had been given banned substances in 2012, The Age journalist Caroline Wilson was perhaps the most strident critic of Essendon coach James Hird's role in the affair, something Essendon fans did not appreciate.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: The majority of players wear sleeveless guernseys, although sleeved versions do exist, and some players regarded as being among the greatest ever (such as Essendon's James Hird and Hawthorn's Michael Tuck) almost always wore sleeved jumpers. For most of the game's first century, the majority of players wore sleeves.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Port Power vs Adelaide Crows, Collingwood vs Carlton
    • In fact, the league can be pretty much divided between Slobs and Snobs:
    • Slobs: Collingwood, Geelong, Fremantle, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Richmond, Western Bulldogs, Western Sydney if the AFL's Evil Plan comes together
    • Snobs: Adelaide, Carlton, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Sydney (slobs when they were South Melbourne),Essendon, St. Kilda, West Coast Eagles, probably the Gold Coast
    • In Between: Brisbane,
  • Spin-Offspring: The father/son rule, which gives clubs first preference in the draft for the sons of their former players. Way too many examples to list, but the Ur Example is Ron Barassi; his father played for Melbourne, but zoning rules at the time meant that Ron would have to play for either Carlton or Collingwood. Melbourne (who had been supporting Ron and his mother after his father was killed in action during WW2) lobbied the VFL to let them draft Ron to play for them when he was old enough, and they agreed. He later caused controversy by transferring to Carlton for the money, something that was not done at the time.
  • Stone Wall: The tactic of "flooding" is a version of this, having so many players around the ball and likely opposition targets that the opposition can't get a clean possession. The Sydney Swans are noted exponents of this, while in the 2013 Preliminary Final, Fremantle did it well enough to beat Sydney at their own game.
  • Take Me Out at the Ball Game: Gangland figure Jason Moran was murdered while attending a junior match his son was playing in.
  • Take That: In 2001, the Seven Network lost the broadcast rights to the AFL (which it had held for forty years) to the Nine and Ten networks. In the week leading up to the 2001 Grand Final, it broadcast a program called "Biffs, Bumps and Brawlers" that showcased the violent aspects of the game that the league was trying to de-emphasise.
  • Tempting Fate: Speaking at the 2010 Grand Final Breakfast, following the hung parliament in the 2010 election, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said, "Please, we cannot have a draw!". Guess what happened?
  • That One Rule: The advantage rule, which is also used in soccer. The officials are given the ability to wave off a foul if the team that was fouled would be in a more advantageous position if the foul isn't given — in footy, you'll often hear the announcers call "play on" when advantage is paid. Of course, because the rule is a matter of high-speed interpretation, fans on both sides of an advantage call will often be puzzled — if not downright angry — about the call. The loudest yelps will be given if the team that played on immediately loses the ball after the advantage call, as their fans now believe they were victimized instead of helped.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: A few years ago, Essendon unveiled a remixed version of their theme song in Round 1. Complaints from their fans meant they went back to the original starting with Round 2.
  • To The Tune Of: Most club theme songs are based off other songs, the only exceptions being Fremantle (which borrows a motif from "Song of the Volga Boatmen"), Port Adelaide and the West Coast Eagles.
    • Perhaps the worst offender is St Kilda. Their club song is literally "When the Saints Go Marching In", but with a few references to the club sprinkled in.
    • The Brisbane Lions club song, "The Pride of Brisbane Town", is sung to the tune of "La Marseillaise" - the national anthem of France.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Players can be reported for "Rough Conduct" (formerly "Unduly Rough Play"), which covers any incident that isn't a specific offence (such as striking)
  • The Weird Al Effect: Do you know the songs "Goodbye Dolly Gray", "Keep Your Sunny Side Up", or "Row, Row, Row"? No? How about "Good Old Collingwood Forever", "See The Bombers Fly Up", and "Tigerland"?
  • The Woobie: St Kilda. Also Fitzroy, before they merged with Brisbane. Financial troubles aside, North Melbourne seems to be heading this way fast.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: Fremantle's old purple, white, red and green jumper is the most famous example, but other teams have had their fashion disasters - the Brisbane Bears' "angry koala", Hawthorn's camo pattern and "horse racing" diamonds from pre-season competitions (thankfully, not on the same jumper), North Melbourne's one-off orange stripes (done as a promo for mobile phone carrier Orange), and Essendon's red shorts from the seventies.
    • Speaking of the seventies, Graham Teasdale's infamous brown velvet suit on Brownlow Medal night.
  • Unfortunate Names:
    • Some of the old nicknames for the teams: The Melbourne Fuchsias and Hawthorn Mayblooms. In the days before World War II, Essendon's colours of red and black led to some people calling them the "blood-stained niggers", but it was never an official nickname (during WW2, they adopted "Bombers" due to their proximity to the air force base). South Melbourne/Sydney is still the Swans, though they also had an unofficial name — the "blood-stained angels", or just Bloods for short — before the move to Sydney.
    • For individual players, Steele Sidebottom, Tyson Goldsack and Brad Dick (Who all play(ed) for Collingwood). Also, manager Ricky Nixon (who became embroiled in a scandal more befitting another U.S. president).

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