Saturday, September 24, 2005

Of Football

The West Coast Eagles narrowly lost out to the Sydney Swans in the AFL Grand Final this afternoon. On paper, West Coast were the better side; but the game is played on grass - and the Swans have a reputation for spoiling other people's parties...At 54-58, it could hardly have been closer, and while I'm sure the locals will be disappointed they should be proud of their side for their part in what was, on all accounts, one of the best finals there has been in a long time.

Both sides have interesting histories. Aussie Rules was invented in Melbourne, and there were 12 teams in inner-Melbourne alone at the point where teams eventually cost so much to run that 12 in one city was no longer sustainable. [Despite die-hard un-reconcilable fans, Sheffield struggles with two football teams...] So two got shipped-out interstate, to Sydney and Brisbane, and a third team is currently trying to transition to Canberra. Before 1982, the Sydney Swans was South Melbourne Football Club. Not surprisingly, such pick-up-and-put-down-elsewhere moves upset a lot of fans at the time; but apparently most stay loyal, and a new - additional - fan base builds up in the new location. Links with fans are carefully loosened by rebranding a specific neighbourhood name with a generic bird or animal (etc.); and at the same time carefully maintained by retaining the initials of the original name - in the Swans' case, SMFC - on the back of the players' jerseys. The West Coast Eagles, on the other hand, have no historic tie to their neighbourhood, but are the fairly recent creation of a syndicate of sponsors who believed that the game was worth importing - and who have been successful in persuading the population of Perth to take the game, and the team, into their hearts.

I guess we're doing something vaguely similar with The Order of Mission - taking 'game rules' (principles, values) and (some) 'players' developed in one context - St Thomas' in Sheffield - and seeing what might come of them in another; with both divergence and continuity between TOM and St Tom's. As yet, it is too early to know how things might take off...


  1. Hi Andrew, sorry to sound anal but that is not strictly correct. Aussie Rules has been played in a league format in WA since 1885, albeit imported then from Melbourne (est in mid 1850s).

    Prior until 1982 leagues operated within state lines, but with the Victorian FL growing in strength at the expense of other state leagues, a national competition was pursued with teams in Perth (Eagles) and Brisbane (the Bears - forerunners to the merged Lions) joining Sydney in 88. Other teams were added up until 97 when the current competition configuration was est.

    Of course none of this changes your plans for OofM / St tom's :)

  2. Hi Bruce - apologies for any misrepresentations in my account, which are entirely unintentional. I'm trying to give flavours of our experiences here to friends back home, and can only really go on what I hear from people or can look up. According to the Eagles' official website, the club was founded in September 1986 and played its first official match in 1987 - I didn't think that counted as an historic tie to a place, even by the standards of Australia's brief history as a nation... ; )

    Anyway, football aside, how is fatherhood treating you? I hope all is well with your newly-expanded family. Life will never be the same again...

  3. Fatherhood is sensational!

    Judah is one month old today and it is difficult to consider life without him.

    Glad to be able to read your accounts of life in Cottesloe. Keep it going!