REMEMBER the days when Geelong were at the top of the ladder, the Hawks were free-falling after a decade of dominance, the Swans couldn’t buy a win, Ablett’s career was starting to fade, and Adelaide were pushing for a flag?
Man, how things have changed.
Full disclosure, I was born in 1987 so I look back at the ’90s with Sherrin-red tinted glasses, but it’s difficult to think of a decade that better marketed the game to a bunch of wide-eyed kids dreaming of sporting glory.
It was spectacular, it was fast, it was brutal – and that’s why we all fell in love with it.
To further up the sentimental volume, here’s 20 things that you’ll probably remember fondly if you grew up watching footy in the ’90s.
SELECT FOOTY STICKERS
THERE was nothing quite like cracking a fresh pack of Select stickers and coming across one you didn’t have.
The foil stickers were always the best – logos and medals – and there was always something exciting about getting a double All-Australian.
Thursday was sticker day for me, when mum would give me 25c and send me into the newsagent to shut me up for a while.
If you were lucky, your parents would let you order the entire set at the end of the year, when Select would send you that red pouch full of all the missing pieces.
It was always fun to see if your favourite player got a gig on the double-page spread for your team. Brenton Sanderson was consistently robbed in my opinion.
LOOK, I say Blink 182’s Dude Ranch was the first album I ever bought. But I’m almost certain that’s a lie.
A Greg Champion cassette was the first recorded music I ever owned, and it was magnificent. Don’t believe me? Here’s the track list.
After that I’m fairly sure I bought the brilliant ‘Ablett’s in the Air’ collaboration between Greg Champion and The Music Men.
I had impeccable taste in music.
MARKERS UP WITH A MCDONALD’S AUSKICK FOOTY
GROWING up in south-west Victoria meant you only had access to the footy oval for a few months a year. Most of the time it was too wet and muddy, meaning teachers who couldn’t be shagged dealing with dirt inside the school banned you from stepping on the grass.
That meant playing markers up on the asphalt. For those unfamiliar with the game, it involved one student kicking the ball high in the air to a group of about 10 boys at the other end, all competing to take the mark.
Needless to say, it led to plenty of lost skin on knees.
While knee skin was lacking, there was never a lack of red Macca’s Auskick footys.
Most of the time there was a designated kid who brought his footy along each day, but occasionally there’d be several balls bouncing around, distinguishable only by your name scrawled with black marker in your mum’s handwriting.
“IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THE SCORE FROM GEELONG, LOOK AWAY NOW”
DID anyone ever look away?
Back in the dark days before live footy on TV was a thing, Channel 7 would reveal the result of a game before you had a chance to watch it, adding salt to the wound by soundtracking it with Diesel’s ‘Right on the tip of my Tongue’.
On a side note, it’s easy to get sentimental about the commentary team of Sandy, Drew, Bruce and Dennis. They might not have actually been that good, but they were the soundtrack to our childhood.
FULL-FORWARDS KICKING 10 GOALS IN A GAME AND 100 GOALS IN A SEASON AND ASSUMING THAT WAS NORMAL
ON 14 occasions in the 1990s a player kicked 100 goals or more in a season (Lockett x5, Dunstall x4, Ablett x3, Sumich and Modra). Since 2000, it’s only happened four times.
As for 10 or more goals in a game, the stats are ridiculous. 69 times it happened in the 1990s and the closest decade to that was the 1930s, when it happened 41 times. In the 17 years since 2000, it’s only happened on 17 occasions.
And it wasn’t just the big names bagging goals in the ’90s. Jeff Hogg bagged 10 against Collingwood in 1991. Adrian McAdam did the same against Sydney in 1993. Christ, even full back on the century Stephen Silvagni did it, snagging 10 against Fitzroy in 1993.
We took it for granted that this was how footy was played when we were growing up.
How wrong we were.
I’D LIKE TO SEE THAT
BEST. Ad campaign. Ever.
If you want a proper run down of how the ad came about, read Jai Bednall’s yarn about it here.
Otherwise, just hit play on the video above and enjoy.
STATE OF ORIGIN
YEAH, yeah, State of Origin was around before the ’90s, we know that you grumpy old bastards. Shouldn’t you be off sharing obviously fake news on social media?
But there was something special about Origin just before it said goodbye forever. It might have been the Ted Whitten factor. His passion for the game and his hate of South Australia radiated across the state when the Big V came out.
It’s a great shame, but when Ted died, so did the concept.
THESE 90S LOGOS
DID anyone else have these in ladder form? Like on a card that changed its image when you tilted it one way?
Either way, awesome logos.
THE PETER DAICOS GOAL MASTER
OCCASIONALLY the fraternity of red Macca’s Auskick footys would be shattered by something special.
Sometimes it would be a proper footy too big for little feet. Sometimes it would be a signed footy with a player caricature on it (does anyone remember those?).
And sometimes it was Peter Daicos’ Goal Master.
Almost exclusively used by kids who supported Collingwood, the Goal Master promised it would teach kids how to kick goals like Daics.
Most of the time it didn’t live up to that promise.
THE 1994 FINALS SERIES
LIKE forwards kicking bags of goals, the 1994 finals series gave ’90s kids unrealistic expectations of what finals series were usually like.
North Melbourne and Hawthorn played out a draw in the second qualifying final, leading to the first ever use of extra time.
Billy Brownless kicked a goal after the siren to break lovable Doggies supporters’ hearts.
Geelong downed favourites Carlton in the semi despite missing a score of star players.
Gary Ablett kicked a goal after the siren to break unlovable North supporters’ hearts.
And then Geelong got flogged in the Grand Final.
You can’t win them all.
EVERY KID HAVING THE NUMBER 5 ON THEIR BACK
It didn’t matter if you were a Cats fan, a Bombers fan or a Magpies fan, you had the number 5 stitched onto your woollen guernsey. Or if your folks were a bit low on cash, you had it ironed on.
Ablett, Hird, Buckley – Christ even the Fitzroy legend John Barker was rocking the number 5 in the mid-90s. What a time to be alive.
IF you’re anything like me you acquired most of your historical footy knowledge in 1996.
The Centenary brought with it books, documentaries and that silly one off Essendon and Geelong game where the players wore lace-up jumpers.
Darren Bewick in a lace-up kicking what seemed like 20 goals still haunts my dreams.
THE MAGIC EYE ON THE 1994 AFL GRAND FINAL RECORD
IF you didn’t ruin your childhood eyesight trying to figure out the image in the magic eye of the 1994 grand final record, have you really lived at all?
Spoiler alert: it’s the premiership cup.
BEING ALLOWED TO STAY UP AND WATCH THE START OF THE FOOTY SHOW
IT’S probably been 20 years since I watched The Footy Show, but I remember it fondly as a place for great footy analysis, excellent humour, and exceptional TV talent.
But I was 8-years-old so what the fuck did I know?
Still, it’s a fond memory being allowed to stay up late to watch it, normally just until the second or third teams were announced before my folks got sick of me and told me to piss off to bed.
HATING INTERSTATE TEAMS AND NOT REALLY KNOWING WHY
BLOODY Adelaide, am I right? Pricks. Almost as bad as those West Australian mongrels.
Victorian parochialism peaked in the ’90s as interstaters came in to take our game – and our cup – away from us.
Like the kids of religious zealots, we were taught to hate the foreign invaders from west of the border, but not Brisbane and Sydney, because they were irrelevant.
And look where that inattentiveness took us. Five flags and a Fitzroy takeover. It’s always the ones you least expect.
Watch. Enjoy. Then read the story about the photographer who took the picture here.
NOTHING says footy like poorly designed caricatures of famous players. But at least they made an effort to look like the actual players, unlike …
I’M not even sure what these guys were called, but I do remember they came with number stickers for the back of the jumper and a tiny footy that was easily lost.
And finally …
WHILE this wasn’t the first Aussie Rules computer game on the market (the first was Aussie Rules Footy on NES, of which you can play on this sick emulator), it was the first time EA Sports recognised our game as a legitimate sport.
Since then there has been countless attempts to recreate AFL for those of us better with our thumbs than our feet, but they’ll never get it right thanks to the hectic nature of the sport.
It’s like the anti-soccer, which is boring as watching shit dry in real life, but insane fun on the Playstation.
Got any more memories of growing up watching footy in the ’90s? Comment on this page or on our Facebook page now!