Tomorrow as 12.30 (WST) will be the bounce down to begin the Grand Final match between the Fremantle F.C. and the Hawthorn F.C. Hawthorn has been around for many years but Fremantle only for 19 years.
In the southernmost states of Australian Australian Rules football was always the dominant code of football. Soccer is played in all states of Australia and both rugby league and rugby union are played but more in Queensland and New South Wales, although there are teams in other states but they are in the minority.
The origins of Australian Rules football are obscure and still the subject of much debate. The earliest accounts of "foot-ball" games in Australia date back to July, 1829 and the earliest accounts of clubs formed to play 'football' date to the late 1850s. On the Victorian goldfields, men from across the world brought their own ideas of football rules, and their games were played by a variety of rules, sometimes agreed at the beginning of a game, others applied where there was contention during a match. Though football became increasingly common between 1856 and 1858, written details are difficult to find as most of these matches were poorly documented. It is believed that some form of football was played among indigenous Australians prior to European colonisation.
The AFL Commission, the game's current governing body, officially acknowledges the following with regard to the formation of Australian Football:
a) that 1858 was the commencement date of modern day 'football', and
b) that the game was invented in Melbourne
That is a very sketchy summary of what most of us call our 'national' game. Originally each state had clubs which would play against each other and occasionally there would be interstate carnivals between the different states that actually played Aussie Rules football.
For most of the 20th century the South Australian National Football League, the Western Australian Football League and the Victorian Football League were considered as peers.. They continued playing each other at various challenge matches and nationwide club competitions. These were also occasionally played in Queensland and Tasmania.
The modern day Australian Football League came into being in 1990 after the Victorian Football League's government body decided to market the competition, as an official national league and thus renamed itself. Several of the Victorian clubs were in financial trouble and it was felt if a national league was formed it would help these clubs. Now recognised as the governing body of Australian Football by majority international leagues, the AFL Commission has gained control over the game, framing its' laws in the process. Western Australia's first national team West Coast Eagles actually joined the original VFL prior to 1990. They since then have won 3 premierships and been in several grand finals.
The national event today has its teams based in five of the six Australian states. It is enthusiastically watched by millions of spectators at home and away matches from March to early September. After a series of preliminary finals matches, the AFL's Grand Final is played between the two finalists. It is always played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground which has a capacity for over 100 thousand spectators.
Western Australia's second national team the Fremantle Dockers was formed 19 years ago in 1994 and had very limited success during the early years. There was a succession of coaches and board members and not until a new coach was employed two years ago had the club moved forward to the extent that tomorrow it will take to the field in an attempt to win its very first premiership. (The club had played in preliminary finals in previous years but without success). It has been a long wait but we in Perth who support Fremantle can only wish them well. If they played as they did in their last two matches then I feel they should have a good chance of taking the flag. Even if they lose, it has been wonderful to watch their progress during the past two seasons and we all know they will do their very best.....and this is what it's all about: GO FREO!!!!!!