The 2016 AFL premiership season is officially upon us. What does that mean, you ask? Well, generally speaking, AFL makes the majority of people in this fair city of ours go more bonkers than Dizzee Rascal. And it’s not just barracking for your own team, anymore. Oh no, these days we have things like Dream Team and Supercoach to make people obsessed with watching every single game, and then discussing individual player performances at length during the hours they are not asleep.
So even for the folks in this town who don’t really follow AFL (all seven of you), here is the cold hard reality—even if you don’t enjoy this sport, it’s highly likely that at some stage over the next six months, you’re going to find yourself in a social situation where you’re going to have to ‘talk footy’.
It might be with your boss at after-work drinks; your father in law; the guy packing your groceries; or the chick making your coffee in the morning. Whatever the case, it’s very probable that you will stumble in to a football conversation. And when you do, you’re going to be faced with three options—move to Sydney, become a fully-fledged mute or bluff your way through it.
So if you don’t know the difference between a torpedo and a banana, but want some jargon in your back pocket to whip out at dinner parties, look no further.
Things To Say
- No more sub rule. ‘Oh, how good is it that there is no more sub rule this year?’ Whip that out. Don’t know what it means? Doesn’t matter. Footy players hate the sub rule, footy spectators hate the sub rule, Dream Teamers hate the sub rule, so therefore you hate the sub rule. Good riddance, green vest!
- Gazza will take back the throne. Here’s a nifty little prediction to throw down at the pub—Gary Ablett will be ready waiting to take his shiny Best Player In The Universe crown off Nat Fyfe this year. While Fyfey was clearly a superhuman last season, Gazza will be fit and firing come round one and will win his third Brownlow in 2016.
- It’s Tiger time. People often like to sit around and discuss who will be the team to watch this year. The dark horses. The unexpected finals contenders. Because everyone loves a fairy tale end to the footy season, don’t they? If you find yourself in one of these chats, throw Richmond in to the mix. They probably won’t make it to the grandy, but there is a little glimmer of hope poking through their premiership window this year. Why? The Tigers have been knocked out of three straight elimination finals, so you could say they’re slowly but surely nudging a bit closer to premiership victory.
- Fremantle’s ship has not sailed just yet. See what I did there? Yes, clever. But in all seriousness, we shouldn’t give up Freo—not yet anyway. Here are some handy stats to have written on your palm if you want to back up this claim—they have the most experienced list in the comp, their midfield is rated second in the league, last year they ranked first for average centre bounce clearances and overall clearances, and second for contested possessions. Plus, with Michael Barlow set to spend more time on the ball this season, the Dockers’ will be cruising in to September .
Things Not To Say
- Anything about Gary Lyon and Billy Brownless. Just leave it. Don’t go near it. It will be tempting, because it is a damn juicy story. But you will likely upset all the footy fans around you. So just don’t.
- ‘Ball!’ Or ‘baaaaaaaalllllllllllllll!!!!!!’ Don’t yell this. It’s annoying. Short for ‘holding the ball’ (because saying those three words is extremely time consuming), this is screamed by clueless footy spectators at any opportunity during a game, even when a player is not in fact holding the ball, and even when there is zero chance of a free kick being paid. Do yourself a favour and don’t lump yourself together with the ‘ball’-yelling nuffies.
- Dustin Martin and chopsticks. Again, just resist temptation. In much the same way you resist an extra teriyaki chicken donburi.
- Essendon’s top up players. You might have heard that the Bombers’ team this year is full of ‘top up’ players. Fantastic choice of words by the AFL, as the reason Essendon needs top-ups is because half their side has been suspended for topping themselves up with performance enhancers. So much opportunity for top up puns, but perhaps avoid if you’re in a room with Bombers supporters.
- ‘I understand how the AFL Tribunal and Match Review Panel work’. That would be a lie, because no one does.
General Jargon To Have In Your Back Pocket
- Forward press. Drop this bad boy into a conversation and people will think you're more clued up than Bruce McAvaney. It refers to a fairly modern footy tactic whereby the majority of players run up the ground to fill their own forward half so the opposition can’t clear the ball from their forward 50, creating what is essentially a gridlock in the forward line.
- That was a soft free kick. Used to describe umpiring decisions that you’re not too happy about. It’s mainly used by older folks, who grew up watching footy in the 70’s and 80’s when AFL was pretty much a bloodsport. Throw it in and people will think you’ve been watching footy for decades.
- Stoppages. Being good around stopppages (ie: when the game has temporarily stopped play) is harder than it looks because essentially, each player is trying to grab a ball when there are 35 other people trying to grab it as well. Just drop the word 'stoppages' into your conversation a few times and you'll have everyone nodding their heads in agreement.
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Image credit: West Coast Eagles