While visiting Melbourne, Australia, expect to overhear plenty of fervent sports talk about one of the country's most popular sporting games - Australia Rules Football. You may also hear it spoken of as 'Aussie Rules' or 'footy', and while it takes on aspects of Rugby and Gaelic football, it's unique to Australia.
Since the Melbourne Football Club, now nicknamed the Melbourne Demons, was first formed and the first match played in Melbourne, Victoria in 1858, Australian Rules football has gathered hundreds of thousands of loyal supporters from across Australia. The professional competition is the Australian Football League (AFL), which comprises 16 teams and is played in each state and territory in Australia. You'll notice the majority of supporters are fiercely loyal to their home team, even if they move to live interstate.
Supporters love the game for its fast pace, varied tactics, charismatic players, and the surrounding colour and hype. AFL games are often sell-out events, so if you're keen to be part of the hysteria, book tickets to games early and grab a map of Melbourne to find your way to the sports stadium. In particular, hearing an MCG stadium or Telstra Dome crowd of tens of thousands cheer their approval or disapproval, is a stirring sporting experience that is sure to sweep you up in the excitement of this game.
The official season runs through the Australian autumn and winter seasons, from March to the end of September when the AFL Grand Final is played. Melbourne weather during this time is generally chilly, so be sure to rug up when attending any of the Melbourne matches.
Explore Melbourne's sporting venues and learn the history of Australia's sporting capital.