When their team is doing relatively well, Essendon Football Club members are known to complain about the difficulty in getting a seat at their 52,000-capacity home ground in Melbourne's docklands. They point out that getting a ticket was easier at the old home ground, the G, which can withstand a hundred-odd thousand bums on seats.
By all standards of sporting popularity (except international adoption), the Australian Football League is a massive institution: the rival of any soccer or baseball competition in the world. And it has been steadily growing up since emerging from the chrysalis of the Victorian Football League twenty years ago. God help the tourist in a Melbourne winter who refuses to see a game.
Despite its already substantial girth, it suffers from growing pains. There is a shackle of tradition, almost unquestionable tradition, sometimes called 'community', that is often at odds with the media and merchandising behemoth that each club dreams of becoming (and that their overseas cousins in other codes have long since become). The consequence is that sometimes, clubs unwittingly parody themselves.
No club is more adept at this unintended self-deprecation than my own team, Essendon. To wit, I would like to present a gallery of images that have been published on their website this season.
One of the greatest players ever to don the red-and-black, former captain James Hird, painting a homage to (I guess) Roger Merrett.
Three of the Bombers' finest.
Please. Make it stop.
Warning: the next one is the greatest photo related to football EVER.
(Yes, even better than this one.)
Wait for it.
Kevin Sheedy, who as a rugged defender invented the now standard back-spinning handball, and who in twenty-seven unfinished years as coach of Essendon has remoulded the game in his own image... dressed as a geisha girl.
Footy is a funny game.
Joseph | 26 Jun 2007