World News – UA – Gabba’s grand finale: How Queensland fell in love with Australian football again


Senior Lecturer in Sports Education and Studies, University of Sydney

Steve Georgakis does not, does not advise, does not own parts, does not receive funds from any organization that might benefit from this article, and has not declared any affiliation other than his research organization

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption in all major sports in Australia, but perhaps the most fascinating – and unlikely – change is the AFL Grand Final game in Brisbane

When most Australians think of sporting preferences by state, the AFL naturally comes out on top in Victoria, while rugby is considered a game of Queensland and NSW

But Australian football was first played in Queensland – and it was only a quirk of history, as well as a lasting love for the British Empire, that led the Queenslanders to change allegiance

Unlike many countries, Australia supports four major football codes (Australian rules, rugby, rugby league and football) The history of how these four sports developed here dates back to the days of ‘before the Federation

After the British began to colonize Australia, sport was one of the most important ways for the early settlers to reproduce British culture It was a demonstration of British nationalism and loyalty to the country original

Early sports in Australia included horse racing and cricket, but were soon followed by others, such as coursing (hunting with dogs) and bowling

The other popular British sport at the time was soccer.But unlike other sports, different forms of soccer were played in the home country.This was particularly evident in British private boys’ schools, where the football was played according to the rules of the respective schools

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Two distinct forms of football eventually emerged in England – what we now call football and rugby This story has been very controversial and still provides a very heated debate

As Britain began to colonize various parts of the world, rugby became the dominant football sport, not soccer That is, the elite sanctioned the rugby union as that imperial football code

This legacy is felt today as New Zealand, South Africa and Australia are the dominant rugby union countries, while in the former colonies of countries like Spain, Portugal and France, football is the sport of choice

In the late 1850s momentum developed in Melbourne to form football clubs and play matches The only problem was that rugby and football had not yet been codified – c ‘that is, there were no accepted rules

So Melbourne’s early settlers attempted to set their own rules for ‘football’, creating what they believed to be an easy to understand, safe and engaging game. It took a long time to succeed

When the new rules were first tried in 1859, for example, no goals were sent off due to the wind and the proximity of the goal posts According to a report at the time,

Some inconvenience was caused due to the vague wording of the rule that makes ‘trigger’ an institution, and after the match a committee meeting was held, during which most of the existing rules have been revised, and some new ones have been added

From the very beginning, Australian football became its own business The members of the Melbourne Cricket Club who set the rules were free to experiment as they enjoyed producing a game which they believed would gain popularity

The rest is history Australian football quickly became the dominant code in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia

Queensland became an independent colony late in comparison to the others And in 1866 the first Brisbane Football Club was formed, adopting the rules of the game from Melbourne

For the next decade, Australian rules were the official football code in Queensland, although Brisbane Football Club also participated in some rugby union matches.

When it became clear that rugby union was becoming the dominant football code in the British Empire, there was a concerted push in Queensland to move to rugby union And in 1876, the various football clubs in Brisbane changed their allegiance, although it was not without controversy

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For several years fans and clubs were torn between the two games It is clear from media reports that the Australian rules had some advantages: the game was more fun to play and to watch, easier to understand and safer

The promoters of rugby unions, meanwhile, struggled to translate their rules into practice, causing confusion as one rugby union critic put it in the Brisbane Courier in 1876 ,

there is too much holding of the ball and arguing on the ‘side’ and ‘outside’ side. This is not football at all, and for this reason these rules were rejected by the Melbourniens and de new, much better ones have been replaced The rugby union code contains fifty-seven rules, of which the Melbourne rules are only fifteen

But rugby was the favorite sport of the elites; it was the British game So rugby union eventually prevailed in Queensland (as well as New South Wales) from around 1880

This divided football landscape has changed very little over the course of the 20th century But as codes have become more commercialized in recent years, the AFL in particular has made efforts to expand its reach beyond Victoria and reach new players and spectators in NSW and Queensland

This process began with the expansion of the VFL / AFL, from the 1980s onwards But more importantly, there has also been a growth at the grassroots level among adults and children, both men and women

This year, the pandemic provided the AFL with a great opportunity to make even more inroads in rugby states. Not only did Brisbane host games when Victoria went into lockdown, but spectators also started to watch in greater numbers

The opener of the final series earlier this month between Port Adelaide and Geelong saw huge increases in Sydney (up 259% from the first week of 2019) and Brisbane ( up 112% compared to 2019)

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With GWS debut, Aussie Rules returns to Sydney

And the Brisbane-Richmond qualifying final drew almost 150,000 viewers in Brisbane – more than the NRL qualifying final on the same night

I’m not saying we’re the number one sport here in Queensland, but it’s certainly nice to join in the conversation Right now, it feels like it’s almost Queensland’s game

If these spectator numbers are any indication, Australian football is coming back to Queensland And it might not go like it did in the early 1880s

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Australian Football League, Geelong Football Club, AFL Grand Final, Queensland, Brisbane Lions, Hawthorn Football Club

World News – UA – Gabba’s Grand Final: How Queensland fell in love with Australian football again



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