Posts Tagged VFA

Reading notes about rugby, Aussie rules and general Aussie sport books

Posted by Laura on Monday, 1 November, 2010

Between October 21 and November 1, 2010, I’ve been busy reading books about Australian and New Zealand sport. Some of this has been for entertainment. Some of this has been with the general broad goal of better understanding Australian and New Zealand sporting cultures. Some of it has also been to try to learn more about the demographic and geographic characteristics of these particular sporting cultures. I’ve spent time in public and universities, in chain bookstores, in independent bookstores and in used bookshops. Beyond what you see here, I’ve developed a rather lengthy list of books that I want the University of Canberra’s library to purchase in order to build up its sport cultures and sport history sections. (The University of Victoria Footscray Park campus library sport section blew me away. I want that at the University of Canberra.) In some cases, I’ve taken pictures of the covers and relevant pages while reading as I didn’t always have paper on hand. Notes from these pages may eventually be written up. That said, my notes to date with a focus on understanding fans.

League of Legends, 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia. Chapter: Rugby League: A Work in Progess by David Middleton. pg. 31.

In the early 1980s, the NRL expanded outside of its traditional base in New South Wales. Fears at the time were that if the National Rugby League failed to expand that the AFL would take over the country and kill their game.

League of Legends, 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia. Chapter: Grass Roots: On Being a Rugby League Fan by Debbie Spilane.
“Pay television and the internet are two of the other major changes in attracting fans.”

“But, for the majority, being a fan is all about a bond with a team and a fellow fans, the memories it holds and the hopes it embodies for the future. It’s about emotion and shared experience and loyalty.”

Sporting Island, A history of Sport and Recreation in Tasmania by David Young.
Rugby league returned to Tasmania in 1990. In 1998, the Melbourne Storm played the Adelaide Rams at the North Hobart Oval. They hoped to get 5,000 fans at the game but only 2,395 showed. This wasn’t a good sign for Rugby League on the island.

A National Game, The History of Australian Rules Football by Rob Hess, Matthew Nicholson, Bob Stewart and Gregory De Moore.

pg. 51: As the game spread during the 1860s, “teams became identified strongly with local communities.”

pg. 66-67: Female fans were depicted as being fans of the team by the 1870s. They appeared in artwork from the era. The percentage of female fans for Australian rules has always been higher than other football codes. In terms of attendance, during the 1870s, they are said to have made up 1/3 to 1/2 of all spectators. Female football fans turned out at all levels of plays. The people who managed the fields and the newspapers were keen to provide and promote the nicer seating accommodations for female fans. Early female fans were not necessarily there to look at the attractive male form as early uniforms were not as form fitting. Only as the 1870s unfolded did the uniforms become tighter and similar to that of rugby.

pg. 96: Local newspapers were important in terms of helping share club news, create fan identity and develop a fan base. An example of this was the Independent, which promoted the Footscray Football Club.

pg. 96-97: Supporters “adopted a variety of emblems, totems and flags in their search for a visible form of community identity in an increasingly competitive suburban competition.” Club colors were worn on scarves, clothing, in rosettes, silk ribbons and other paraphernalia sold by local shopkeepers. Football clubs helped legitimize local communities, were vital to the community’s social structures and supported local businesses. “In essence, the more formal organization of the VFA created the conditions by which casual onlookers to the game evolved into loyal barrackers with an emotional investment in the results of matches. With the creation of this specific audience in the 1870s and 1880s came a consumerist mentality that helped to boost commercial dimensions of the code.

pg. 158: “It should be understood that the relationship between women and football is multifaceted rather than one-dimensional. The obvious presence of a large number of female spectators is clearly distinctive to the code, and the press description of female barrackers stoically sitting in the rain yelling abuse at the umpire, or decorating their prams in club colours, are enduring reflections of the passionate commitment that women displayed for Australian Rules football.”

pg. 164: Contains a map of the Barassi-line.

pg. 165: During the 1920s, Melbourne was the spiritual home for Australian rules football because the game had been invented in Melbourne. During the 1920s, Melbourne supported two leagues: The VFA and the VFL.

pg. 167-168: Adelaide and South Australia were also heavily involved with Australian rules during the 1920s. Population of 295,000 and they could get 20,000 to big matches, 8,000 on average,

pg. 169: Western Australia was also into Australian rules. The same was true for Tasmania.

pg. 170: Australian rules was less popular in New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT though these states all had competitions.

pg. 171: The Northern Territories during the 1920s and 1930s were into Australian rules, especially amongst the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander populations.

pg. 215: Pascoe is cited along with his rational for why Rugby took off where it did versus Australian rules and where it did. (Structure and team oriented coming out of a convict pass for rugby. Less structured and more individualist for a more a society created in the freewheeling period of the late 19th century.

pg. 244: North Melbourne tried to move to Coburg in the 1960s but locals felt disloyal to their VFA team and did not like having to pay for the team to be there.

pg. 246: “Carlton was a magnet for immigrants in the 1950s because of its low-cost rentals, high-density housing and proximity to the city.” Lots of Italian immigrants settled there. Some played soccer but a few tried Australian rules and were good at it. Because of the multi-cultural composition of the team, the nature of the fanbase changed while maintaining its middle class aspirations. In Western Australia, other immigrant groups and Aboriginals began playing for and supporting local Perth area club sides.

pg. 248: The galas put on by the ANFC weren’t that successful as many Australians were more interested in their local club sides than they were in state teams.

The Winter Game, Rediscovering the Passion of Rugby by Todd R. Nicholls.
pg. 47: Super 12 brings in non-hardcore fans of rugby more into the game. As of 2005, no study has been done to examine the economic impact of the Dunedin Super 12 team on the local economy. A study was done on the economic impact of test rugby.

pg. 97: In New Zealand, you’ve got crowds of 20,000 people going to a Super 12 game. Fans pay a lot of money to attend. Amateur rugby is a problem because fewer players continue playing in their 20s. This is similar to the problem of soccer in New Zealand. If players do not go on, it can be a problem for the game.

pg. 129: “It’s as if a notion of the nation is that much more difficult for a rugby fan to grasp. The All Blacks are, well, New Zealand’s team but the ‘us’ is bigger than when the Crusaders are playing and perhaps harder to identify with.”

pg. 130: “I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness as I contemplate this, a real sense of loss that the average fan has to some degree been left behind in the move to professional rugby.”

pg. 141: Rugby union in Australia is a game more for Australia’s elite. This can be seen in how fans dress to attend matches. It can culturally also be seen in the demographics of fans in Australia: Private school educated, using the game to reaffirm business connections, richer and belonging to a more exclusive class.

pg. 158: Rugby is something fitted around school, work and family for most New Zealand rugby fans. For club rugby and the NPC, the author thinks that the smaller provinces are better in that they get behind their teams more in the local community, in the newspaper and on the street. He asserts that winning the NPC means more the community than it does in bigger communities.

pg. 277: Being an All Black meant behaving a certain way, doing certain things, treating fans a certain way. Professionalism has tested these traditions and expectations for what it means to be an All Black.

pg. 288: Rugby fans vote for the “RBS Player of the Championship” in the Six Nations competition.

pg. 297-298: The Barmy Army has a project manager. His job is to create events for fans to attend while the Lions do tours and compete in Tests. Lions fans are madly passionate, at the author and the project manager assert. In the tour of New Zealand, they out number the Kiwi fans and out sang them. The local economy makes a lot of money off these visiting fans, as will the organizers with their high ticket prices and expensive kit. Still, some of the officially organized events had low attendance and appeared to the author less celebrating a love of rugby and more about trying to make as much cash as possible.

pg. 320: The vast majority of the members of the Barmy Army are Lions fans traveling all around New Zealand anyway or are older fans on expensive tour packages. A lot of others are Kiwis who support the Lions.

pg. 322: Losing doesn’t matter much to the Lions fans attending the New Zealand tour. It is all about having a good time and supporting their team.

pg. 347: The increase in the number of Super 12/14 games and TriNations games did not necessarily increase the demand for rugby. The start of the Super 14 competition had smaller attendance in New Zealand than in previous years. The expanded schedule also meant increased competition with other sport schedules in all three countries.

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