Despite football fans rarely agreeing upon anything, there is one belief that we all hold – Australian Rules Football is the greatest sport on earth.
With its laws forged from the Anglo-Celtic ethos of a fair go and its expansiveness born from the indigenous game of Marngrook, our game is more than simply entertainment – it is a true expression of identity.
It is quintessentially Australian, so why wouldn’t we want to share it?
Due to this common agreement of sporting superiority and in an effort to spread the good word, we have seen our code exported to various far-flung locations around the globe.
Although these excursions may have ultimately proven futile, it is worth remembering the endeavors all the same.
As none of us will be able to jet off internationally any time in the foreseeable future, here is a list you can live vicariously through, comprised of the eleven countries Aussie Rules has officially been played in.
The United States of America
The game’s first jaunt into the supposed home of the free was in late October of 1963.
In a game reportedly attended by Hula girls and a bemused smattering of media members, the umpiring team were not granted the ability to report acts of foul play – a move that lead to Ron Barassi leveling the late great Polly Farmer.
Played 15-a-side on the square surface of Honolulu Stadium, Melbourne ran out winners by 12 points in front of nearly 1,500 spectators.
The Demons doubled the dosage six days later, this time by five points before a crowd of 5000 at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
Despite reports of engaged crowds, a quarter of a century would pass before a Sherrin was again bounced before star spangled banners.
By the completion of the 1988 VFL season, then CEO Ross Oakley had served three years in the post. With the Eagles and Bears joining the competition under his leadership the year prior, Oakley turned his eye to expansion over water rather than borders.
An international junket was scheduled for the month following that year’s Grand Final with the first of three destinations Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami.
Before a reported crowd of 7,500, Geelong and Collingwood did battle on the constricted ground.
The following year saw Melbourne and West Coast clash at Portland’s rectangular Civic Stadium.
Although the Demons final tally of 160 points no doubt entertained the 14,787 spectators in attendance, it was again another generational lull – 26 years – before league boss Andrew Demetriou reprised the concept of an American invasion.
Despite selling out the 3,200 tickets allotted, 2006’s pre-season practice match between Sydney and North Melbourne at the University of California (UCLA) has proven to be our last attempt to replace pigskins with kangaroo leather.