How to choose a footy tribe

It’s a question I’ve been asked many times, in many ways – and seems far more important than ever now that I’ve moved to Melbourne.

“Which AFL team do you barrack for?”
“Who do you follow?”
“Who’s your team?”

I’m still struggling for an answer.

It’s not that I don’t know or care about footy. I’ve been to a few games, I listen on the radio every weekend, I keep an eye on the ladder and news, I usually watch the finals. I even watched The Footy Show nearly every week for a season until I got fed up with it and decided sleep was more important.

Tuning in to the Coodabeen Champions on a Saturday morning is a ritual I can’t go without – and though I wince at occasional jokes that are well past their use-by date and sometimes borderline offensive, I love the creativity, the insight into footy at all levels, and being part of that community.

I’ve actually started answering the question with “the Coodabeens!” Which gets me some strange looks.

So now I’m on a mission – to find out how and why others choose their tribe.

When I lived in rural southern England, I was fascinated as to why one of the regulars at the pub was a die-hard Manchester United fan – despite not being from Manchester, and never having lived there. He told me it started with the Munich air disaster in 1958, when a plane carrying the entire team, supporters and journalists crashed on take off. The emotional hook.

Many years later, I learned that a young friend in my hometown in WA was an avid Collingwood fan. The story goes that her parents were both diehard fans of different AFL clubs. Dad claimed the first-born for the Magpies; Mum then set about converting younger sister into a Blues fan. A family split down the middle.

I’m starting to think I’m just not the tribal type, and may never choose a team. Even in cricket, my true sports-love, I’d rather see Australia, or Western Australia, lose if it makes things more interesting. (I love an underdog too, which complicates many a situation!)

So, my question to the Almanac community is this: who’s your team, and why?

Give me your best stories – who knows, you might just convert me to follow your tribe from now on!


Writer, cricket tragic, occasional musician.


  1. Tony Robb says

    Might I. suggest to go with Carlton or Essendon as they cannot stoop any lower and any success is a bonus, You will also get to endure ironic cheers from opposition supporters which I find quite endearing particularly coming form people with no teeth and less brains or follow teams that have not won a premiership in 50 years. The other option is to support the Suns or GWS as you will certainly be unique in Melbourne

  2. Hi Yvette,

    It’s an interesting story and good topic to discuss.

    I am Japanese and have never been to Melbourne, but have an AFL club to support.

    Having lived in New Zealand and a love affair with Wellington made me a passionate St Kilda supporter! Saints used to play Anzac Day clashes in my favourite Wellington!!

    Watching footy matches in an Australian pub in Sapporo led me to follow the interesting sport. Now I live in Kyoto and go to a footy pub in Osaka when I have time to follow the mighty Saints.

    I hope to see St Kilda’s second flag soon and to attend a game at Etihad Stadium.

    And it would be great if you wear a red, white and black gurnesy.

    Go Saints!



  3. bob.speechley says

    If you want some sophistication in reaching a decision about who to follow DON’T watch The Footy Show for a start. Mangrook is definitely a much better option. The Outsiders on Sunday morning is also worth the effort. Furthermore don’t anticipate any wisdom from the commentariate on Television and Radio generally.

    Watch for individual players that potentially inspire your experience – they are out there and different players appeal to different people. Many have exquisite skills worth following. Michael Long was one such player from the recent past. Currently the range of indigenous footballers is widespread – Buddy, Cyril, Travis Varcoe, Daniel Wells, Michael Johnson are a few worth watching closely but there are superb players in all sides – Ablett, Fyfe, Delidio, Reiwoldt, Selwood, Swan for example.

    Jumpers can be an attraction or a turn off. Hawthorn and Collingwood and Gold Coast fill the latter category for many supporters.

    If you’re planning to go to games venue is important and in Melbourne there are two choices – The G and Etihad are home bases for all Melbourne teams. Both venues have advantages depending on your personality and whether you’ll attend day or night games and whether you need to have a reserved seat. In many cases club memberships hold sway over the plum seats. Club Memberships are many and varied and can be costly!

    Ultimately though your heart should tell you who to follow although for some the game is the magnet. Searching the options can be attractive before you become a barracker. Remember also in attending games without a team you will confront a raft of “true” one-eyed supporters which can brand one for life.

    If you want to follow the game closely The Footy Almanac is essential reading

    Happy hunting.

  4. Neil Anderson says

    Yvette, I have just re-read your article and noted you are both asking how did people pick their team to follow and which team you should follow.
    I would like to recommend the Western Bulldogs a.k.a Footscray Football Club to be your team. I see you are a fan of the under-dog so that’s a good start. You would also get in on the ground floor as the Bulldogs enter an era of success after a few bad years.
    A trip out to the Whitten Oval in Footscray to check out the facilities, history and the current positive atmosphere would be well worth it. The VFL Footscray side plays at this venue.
    So the Bulldogs now have three teams. The Western Bulldogs, Footrscray and the Footscray Women’s Team thanks to the foresight and innovation of our vice-president, Susan Alberti.
    For stories of how people selected which Club to follow, I refer you to a web-site called the Bulldog Tragician edited by Almanacker Kerrie Soraghan. There is a section called Bulldog Stories which will give you an idea of the passion and dedication of Bulldog supporters including Kerrie’s and my own.
    Finally if you are still in doubt, follow the writings and musings of our spiritual captain Bob Murphy. I’m sure he will win you over.
    Good luck with your quest and welcome to the Almanac.

  5. jan courtin says

    You could just toss a coin, over a hand-made board with images of all of the Club’s logos, Yvette.
    You might just be lucky, with the coin landing on the only one-word team beginning with S. I certainly recommend that team!

  6. jan courtin says

    Oops! Sorry Yvette. I don’t like grammatical errors – should have said Clubs’ logos……

  7. Thanks for the advice all – plenty to mull over there!
    Having settled in the inner west, Neil’s persuasive pitch for the Western Bulldogs is striking a chord – I’ve even accidentally found Whitten Oval already! (though not explored yet).
    Carlton probably sitting a close second I reckon Tony, nice call – brow beaten underdogs are a speciality.
    Love the board game idea Jan!
    And thanks Yoshi, hard not be impressed by a suggestion all the way from Japan
    But I have a feeling I’m going to have to follow Bob’s advice and listen, read and learn, then follow my heart.
    I’ll keep you posted.

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