Almanac Comment: AFL mythology

AFL football has a strong masculinist mythology. In recent years, inch by tiny inch, it is gradually changing for the better. After decades of denial, it has finally been acknowledged that there is nothing weak or sissy about protecting players’ heads and intellectual futures from the ravages of repeated concussions.
Right now,St Kilda and Sydney are preparing for a ‘pride game’ on Round 21. They are endeavouring to create a safe space for the many gay players whom we know are out there to live their personal realities without shame. Hopefully, this will soon evolve into a Pride Round.


I would like to tackle another of the AFL’s masculinist mythologies. Put simply, why is it not possible for a team ravaged by injuries, to say that a string of defeats is related to the fact that a dozen of their best, most experienced players, are on the wrong side of the fence? Nobody seems to have the guts to stand up and tell the truth when a team of mostly unknown, first year players is suffering big defeats by top 8 teams.

Mick Malthouse is a very powerful name in football and during the years he was coaching my mob he led this nonsense and the football media swallowed it whole and fell in line like a flock of lemmings. Is it soft or weak or sissy to acknowledge the truth? Is there something noble or tough about denying reality or is it illogical, irrational or just plain stupid?

A coach’s job, life and future can hang on such stupidity. This year has been a lean year for Collingwood. Mark Robinson got the ball rolling with his now acknowledged unsubstantiated guess about a rampant drug culture at the club within hours of the first game of the season. This sensationalist rumour provoked a huge headline in the Sydney Murdoch tabloid claiming TAINTED PIES! which our boys were confronted with a couple of hours before playing Sydney. As Buckley said under questioning, “Well, they ARE human beings”.

We lost Swanny for the season in the first quarter of the Sydney game and a couple of others by the end of it. Then more the following week and more the next, and so on. And within a few weeks of the season opening the football media were smelling blood – Buckley’s.
For many weeks after that the football media’s favourite blood sport, separating Collingwood from its champions, was on with a vengeance. This time it was their coach. And when other teams are decimated by injuries, their coach’s jobs may become similarly fragile.


This is ridiculous and cruel. People don’t like hearing or making excuses, but in this situation excuses are also reasons. So for goodness sake, let’s stop this rubbish and say it like it is.


Postscript: Given the number of young Pies being tried by the coach it is understandable their form is up and down – disappoinitng against North, solid against West Coast last night.


  1. Yvette wroby says

    Hi sue, is it a Collingwood/ Buckley bashing thing.., people seem more understanding of the Western BUlldogs injury woes.

  2. rabid dog says

    More Collingwood bleating. Should be used to it by now, shouldn’t we.

  3. rabid dog says

    On a more serious note. I thought that this was going to be a nuaced article on exposing the BS myth that ARE associated with Australian Rules football (NOTE – NOT the AFL – SOMEONE please explain that to the rest of Australia.
    There ARE indeed HUGE problems with some aspects of the culture of OUR game. Witness the shite that is portrayed as intelligent dialogue on the ‘Football Show,’ or anything that come from the mouth of hutchy and others. How you can tease the Almanac members with the promise of a dissertation on (one?/some?) of the myths of football and then turn it into a whine as to why Collingwood are not treated the same as say, Footscray and their injury woes demonstrates only your bias, and not any understanding of the ‘myth’ of the injury-ravaged team. As a (mostly) disinterested AFL follower, I can tell you why – the identity of those injured, the duration of their time out of the game, and the impact of the loss of particular players and their effects upon team performance, and balance.
    I’ll certainly give you Swan and Elliott, but I don’t think you can claim that your team would be a possible top 4 should the list have been injury-free, unlike that of Footscray.
    Rant over (for now). Grrr.

  4. Talking about “pride round”, there has been sexual promiscuity in footy for years: “a loose man in the backlines”, “a loose man on the wing” a “loose man in the flanks”.

  5. There are Loose Men Everywhere.

  6. Loose men everywhere => love it.
    “This is ridiculous and cruel. People don’t like hearing or making excuses, but in this situation excuses are also reasons. So for goodness sake, let’s stop this rubbish and say it like it is.”

    Nice logic, Sue.
    I missed your piece earlier.
    Logic and thought always haphazardly applied with respect to footy.

    The injury “excuse v reason” conversation is a fine example of it.
    I think we commonly discount the role of luck (in footy, in life).

    Here’s an imaginary conversation including that very topic, after the early loss to Carlton.

  7. Sue Currie says

    I want to apologise to those who wish to engage me on my piece about the unfortunate consequences of the masculinist culture of Australian Rules football. Right now (and over the past fortnight) I have been writing something to a deadline. As soon as that is finished I’ll try to field whatever anyone wants to throw at me. For the time being, I would say to Rabid Dog, what a pity you feel you must hide behind a pseudonym; secondly, a closer look at what I said will show that what I was referring to was an AFL-wide phenomenon. I used Collingwood as my example because that is what I know best, but it was intended to include any club whose season is compromised by injury. And I include Freo in this in 2016, perhaps even more so than your beloved bullies! More soon.

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