This Saturday will see a historic first in the Napa Valley as the Napa Valley Expo will host the semi-finals day of the Golden Gate Australian Football League (GGAFL). Three matches will be played on the Silverado Green starting with the “first bounce” of the first game at 9:45 am.
Aussie Rules or “footy”, as the game is known colloquially, is a game played professionally solely in Australia, with social leagues of varying skill levels in existence around the world. The GGAFL is the largest Aussie football league in the US boasting five men’s teams and three women’s teams and usually play their games at Ygnacio Valley near Concord in the East Bay.
One of the men’s teams in the GGAFL, the San Francisco Seals, have been regular visitors to the Napa Valley over the last few years to play cricket against the Napa Valley Cricket Club (NVCC) on weekends when they had no Aussie Rules games scheduled. That connection has lead to NVCC hosting the GGAFL semi-finals for the first time.
Aussie Rules traces its roots to 1858 in Melbourne, Australia, and is generally thought to be a hybrid sport that draws its origins from other ball sports including soccer, rugby, and Gaelic Football – from Ireland – and is played on an oval shaped field similar to a cricket field. The earliest leagues date back to the mid to late 1870’s and, at the highest professional level, the sport was concentrated mainly around Melbourne from then until the late 1980’s. Up until that time the sport went by the moniker – VFL – for Victorian Football league and was made up of clubs exclusively from the Australian state of Victoria. In 1990 the VFL became the AFL and a number of clubs from outside of Victoria were added to the league’s roster. One of the first clubs to be added was the West Coast Eagles, based out of Perth in Western Australia, who went on to win the Grand Final in 1992, and again in 1994.
Aussie Rules differs from many other field sports in that interchange substitutions are allowed during the game and these are controlled by a match official on the side. The oval shaped ball is slightly rounder on the end than either a rugby or American football ball. This allows it to be both bounced while the player is running and kicked end over end so that it’s easier to be caught by a team mate. A player can score either 6 points (a goal) for kicking the ball through the middle two of four posts, or one points (a behind) if they kick the ball between the outer and inner of the four posts. The game is four quarters long with each quarter lasting 20 minutes of playing time, which often stretches to 30 minutes with the addition of stoppages, of playing time, which often stretches to 30 minutes with the addition of stoppages, and each team has 18 players on the field with four interchange subs on the side.
NVCC sponsor will Compadres Rio Grille, who host the annual livestream of the Aussie Rules Grand Final (think Superbowl Australian style) will be providing food on Saturday for what is anticipated to be a large crowd, of passionate Australians, and intrigued locals.
The first game is scheduled to start at 9.45am with the Seals playing the Mavericks. At 11.00am the Pirates square off against the Knight and at 12.15pm the women’s match see the Turtles play the Breakers. After the games are complete the back deck Compadres will be the venue for a Happy Hour social mixer for all of the teams and their supporters.
“We’re excited to bring our semi-finals day to the Napa Valley” said GGAFL President Julie Marks “and have the opportunity to play the game we all love at a new venue. The Silverado Green at the Napa Valley Expo has a beautiful surface and we’re looking to forward to see some top-class footy action being played on it. The crew at the Napa Valley Cricket Club have been incredibly accommodating of us and we’re mindful that we’re creating a little bit of local sports history with the three games. We welcome any locals who are intrigued by our version of football to come down and enjoy any, or all, of the three games.
Learn more here – https://youtu.be/XMZYZcoAcU0 – in this What is AFL? Aussie Rules explained video.