Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Australian Football

I was born and raised in El Paso, in far West Texas. Not quite the end of the world, but you can see it from there.

El Paso is home of the Sun Bowl, home stadium of my favorite team on the planet, the UTEP Miners. I grew up watching bad football and great basketball seemingly every season. That changed in the late 1980s when current Athletic Director Bob Stull became the head football coach prior to the 1986 campaign. The good guys went 4-7, then 7-4 in 1987. 1988 was a great year, as the Miners won 10 games and actually made it to a postseason bowl game.

But at 1-10, 1985 was another lost season for UTEP football. The one highlight was a 23-16 upset win at home over BYU. Head Coach Bill Yung got sacked during the season. The Miners actually played the final game of the '85 schedule in Australia against the Wyoming Cowboys, who had already fired Head Coach Al Kincaid.

The game was played at VFL Park (now Waverley Park, training grounds for Hawthorn) in Mulgrave, Victoria, a suburb of Melbourne. 19,107 curious Australians came out to watch the game, and to watch the Miners give up a two-touchdown lead and fall to the Cowboys 23-21.

I was reminded of this game because California and Hawaii played in Sydney at the start of this current college football season. It was actually the first college game played this season. The Bears beat the Rainbows 51-31 on August 27, 2016 at ANZ Stadium, formerly Olympic Stadium. It's weird since the Sydney Swans closed the 2016 home-and-away season 11 miles away at the SCG with a 164-51 home win over Richmond in a match that started maybe an hour after the Cal/UH game ended.

I just find it interesting that the Swans gave up a home game for the college event. However it seems logical that some sort of agreement was reached to balance the books, since Sydney played to a house of 36,000 vs. 61,000+ at ANZ.


The 2017 AFL fixture is out. Something I found interesting is that Gold Coast and Port Adelaide play their round 8 tilt at Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai, China on May 14.

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