Slow English

Podcasts about Australia for intermediate learners of English

Podcast 2 – Australian Rules Football


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Learn English While Learning About Daily Life in Australia – with Rob McCormack

Podcast Number 2 – Australian Rules Football


Do you like sport? Australians, and particularly those who live in Melbourne, are crazy about sport. In Melbourne you can watch a large range of competitive sports. For example, I have been to see Australian rules football, rugby league, rugby union, cricket, basketball, hockey, Taekwondo, golf, tennis, car racing, motorcycle racing and athletics, just to name those which I have attended here in Melbourne. Now most cities in the world have lots of sports events, but in Melbourne we attend these events in large numbers. For example, the Grand Final of the Australian Rules Football competition in September of each year has around 100,000 sports fans attend the match. And we have the sports ground big enough to hold such a large crowd, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (popularly called ‘The MCG’, or ‘The G’). In this podcast, I would like to talk about Australian Rules Football.


Australian Rules Football (called ‘Footy’ by fans all around Australia) is around 150 years old. It is played with an oval shaped ball by two teams, each with 18 players. The team which kicks the most goals and points wins the game. It is a very physical game and its main characteristics are speed, strong tackling, long kicking (up to 70 metres), long handballs (up to 30 metres) and high marks. A ‘mark’ is when someone catches a kicked ball.

Those fans who follow their teams (‘footy fans’) are indeed fanatical. There are currently 18 teams in the top level competition, the Australian Football League (called the ‘AFL’). The oldest team in the AFL competition is Melbourne (also known as ‘the Demons’), which formed in 1858. It is the oldest football team in the world. The team with the largest following today is Collingwood (also known as ‘the Magpies’), which has 72,600 paid up members. Collingwood fans are very fanatical indeed, and it is probably true to say that Collingwood is the team which all other football fans ‘love to hate’. I follow a team called Essendon (also known as ‘the Bombers’), and our two biggest rivals are Carlton (also known as ‘the Blues’) and, of course, Collingwood.

So what’s it like to attend a big game of Australian Rules Football? Well, it’s exciting, loud, fun and passionate. And it’s played fast and furious. Top level players run approximately 14 kilometres during a game, further than in any other game. Footy Fans arrive early, usually with a colourful club scarf, beanie and perhaps a club jumper.


Up the mighty Bombers! The crowd love to shout, cheer and clap whenever a goal is kicked, or a high mark taken. And disagreeing with the umpire (the ‘man in white’) is an old tradition amongst footy fans. For most footy fans, the umpire makes the wrong decision about half the time.

One of my favourite memories is watching a great player called Michael Long for Essendon, playing at the MCG. Michael has retired now but he was a fast, agile and brave player. He played on the wing, down one side of the ground. I can remember the ball being kicked to him near the boundary line in front of the full Great Southern Stand, holding 45,000 fans. When he marked the ball, the crowd in that stand seemed to rise as one and they roared loud enough to burst your ears. Michael ran like the wind down the boundary line, bouncing the ball every 10 metres as he went (as required by the rules). Players from the other side had no chance to catch him with that crowd cheering him on. His run ended with a long kick to score a goal. Then we rose to our feet and cheered as loud as we could, hands and fists pumping the air, along with about 40,000 other Essendon fans. Up the mighty Bombers!


If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it by clicking the comments link at the top of this story.  Goodbye until next time.

Podcast 2 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?

You can take the quiz as many times as you like.  An individual’s scores are not recorded.



agile = when you can move very quickly

approximately = about equal to, almost equal to

attended = when you have gone to a place

beanie = something you wear on your head to keep warm, often in your team colours

bouncing = when you throw the ball to the ground and then catch it when it comes up

boundary = the edge of the playing area

brave = when you are afraid, but you still do something

burst = when something breaks

characteristics = the things that make something unique

cheering = when the crowd calls out loudly

competitive = when you try to win in a game

crazy = mad, not thinking normally

currently = right now

disagreeing = when you do not agree with someone

ended = when something has finished

events = when something happens

fanatical = when you are very excited about something, when you like something a lot.

fists pumping = when you close your hand and put it up in the air.

following = the people who like a team and always want the team to win

furious = when a game is played with a lot of speed and the players play hard

goals = when you score in a game. In Australian Rules Football, a goal is the same as 6 points

Grand Final = the biggest game. The winner of this game wins everything

ground = a place where sport is played

handballs = when you pass the ball with your hands. In Australian Rules Football, the ball must be punched.

jumper = something you wear on your body to keep warm, often in your team colours

memories = things you remember from the past

oval shaped = not a circle, looks like an egg

paid up members = when somebody pays money to the club and joins the club.

particularly = especially

passionate = when you are very excited about something

physical = when people bump into one another in a game

points = when you score in a game, but you miss the goal

required = when something must be done

retired = when you are older and no longer play the sport

rivals = a team that you always like to beat when you play them in a game

scarf = something you wear around your neck to keep warm, often in your team colours

speed = when something is fast

tackling = when you grab or hold the other player in a game

tradition = when something has been there for a long time

umpire = the person who blows the whistle and says the rules of the game

wing = a place on the football field, near the edge of the playing area.


  1. Hi Rob! I strarted listening to your Podcast from today.
    I’m Korean and I’m planning to go to Australia with working holiday visa in 2 months!

    I’ve struggled to find the podcast that I want to listen to,
    and finally, I found yours!

    Your voice and pace makes me calm and focused.
    Thanks for your Podcast.

    I will study hard and leave a reply again.
    Have a wonderful day!

    • Hi Hailey. Many thanks for your comment. I am glad that my podcast will be useful to you. You have an exciting time ahead and I know you will have a great time here in Australia.
      I look forward to any further comments you might make.
      Best regards,

  2. Hi Rob,

    I have discovered your podcast and I love it!
    Thanks for this tour around Australia.

    I’m Dani from Basque country (Spain).

  3. Hello from Iran ,I started your podcast today, it was awesome, I always wanted to find something like that ( slow English ), I want to immigrate to Australia this year, so it is very good for me to getting to know Australian culture

    • Hi Mosi,
      Many thanks for your comment. I am glad that you like my podcast. Hopefully it will give you an insight into what life is like in Australia.
      Have a great day.

  4. Hi Bob
    My son has been Australian 2 years. We come from Vietnam. I am lucky when my tutor sent me your podcasts. Ihave jucst sent it for my son. We are going to learn English from your podcasts. Thanks you so much.

    Take care

  5. Really very good
    Helpful in learning the Australian English

  6. Very helpful. I learning a lot of new word and learn about your habits.
    I am glad for these.
    Thank you, Rob!

    • Hi Adriana,
      Many thanks for your comment. It is very pleasing to hear that you find my podcast useful. Good luck with your English studies.
      Have a great day.

  7. Dear Rob,

    Many-many thanks for your excellent job! Wish you all the best!

    Greetings from city Mytyischy, Moscow Region, Russia

    • Hi Irina,
      Many thanks for your comment and for your kind words about my podcast.
      Have a great day in Mytyischy.

  8. Hi Rob!

    Thanks for your posdcast 2!
    I really loved the part describing your favorite memory about Michael Long!

    Hella, from Marseille, France

    • Hi Hella,

      Many thanks for your comment. I am glad you liked that part. Michael Long was a great player and it was a real privilege to see him play. What a joy it must be for him today at age 49 to look back and think about those times when the crowd would cheer him as he raced down the field bouncing the football. I’ll bet it makes him smile.
      Cheers from Melbourne.
      Have a great day.

  9. Rob,

    First of all, I really appreciate your effort that you were putting on the podcast to help other people, especially people whose want to learn English as their second language. I just started to listening to your podcast and it’s really helpful to learn English and the culture of Australia. :))

    This is the first time that I’ve listened and learnt about AFL from huge footy fan. 🙂 Personally, I’m not a big fan of sports, but at least I can tell Australian Football means a lot to people in Australia. I come from South Korea and lots of Korean love to play and watch a soccer(also known as football). So, I think there’s the difference in favourite sports between Korean and Australian but also a similarity(Both sports play with a ball on the ground!).

    I have a question about footy and rugby. Every time I watched a footy game on TV, it seemed pretty similar to rugby(my apology to fans). Could you explain what is the difference between these two sports?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Hyunji,

      Many thanks for your comment and your kind words. Yes, there are some differences between Australia and South Korea in their sports. Of course, we also love soccer here in Australia. We have a strong soccer competition (A League – see podcast see and Australians love to follow our team when we play in the World Cup. But our most traditional and popular team game in winter in most parts of Australia is certainly Australian Rules Football.

      It is true that Rugby and Australian Rules Football are similar in some respects. They both use an oval shaped ball and they both kick the ball during a game. However Australian Rules Football has a stronger focus on kicking than rugby. It has a different way of passing the ball by hand. You hold the ball with one hand and then punch it with the other. However these are only a few of the differences. I think the best way to see the differences is to watch some video clips of the two games. You can see that each game has its own attraction. There are many great examples on

      Have a great day.

  10. Hi, Rob.

    Thank you for your excellent podcasts.

    Can you explain “Up the mighty Bombers!” for me?

    • Hi George,

      Thanks for your comment. Great question! ‘Up the mighty Bombers’ means that you support the Bombers. It means you think they are great. Actually, I don’t know where that expression comes from. It could mean that you want them to ‘rise up’ above the other teams. It’s obvious when you hear someone in the crowd shout this expression, that they love the Bombers and support them. I also heard this expression once at a rock concert by Iron Maiden. Fans shouted ‘Up the Iron’. Again, it was obvious to everyone that these fans loved Iron Maiden.

      Thanks for your question. I can only repeat – Up the mighty Bombers! But alas, they were beaten today by Melbourne Football Club in their match. Oh well, there is always next week.
      Cheers from Melbourne.

  11. thanks for your podcast
    I am learning a lot.

  12. Hi Rob,
    Thank you very much about teaching English!The podcast is helpful!!
    I have been lived in Melbourne for two months.Everything is new for me.I am learning English now and I learned so many things in your podcast.
    But I feel nervous when I talk to a English native speaker.Could you give me some suggestions?
    Thanks a lot

    • Hi Elaine,
      Many thanks for your kind words about my podcast. You must have learnt a lot of English if you have already been in Australia for 2 months. My only suggestion about overcoming your nervousness is to keep on speaking English. It sounds hard, but the only way to improve is to keep talking English whenever you can.

      The more you speak, the more you improve and the less nervous you will be.

      Have fun with your English!


  13. Hi Rob,

    Could you answer me?

    would what be “taken” or “high mark taken”


    • Hi Luciano,
      Thanks for your question. It’s a good one. In English, when someone catches a ball, we can say (in the present tense) ‘He catches the ball’, or we can also say ‘He takes a catch’.
      The word ‘catch’ is a noun and it means the act of putting up your hands and grabbing the ball and holding it.
      When you use the word ‘catch’ as a noun, you also use the verb ‘to take’. In the past tense (in the podcast), we say, ‘He has taken a catch’. Or, ‘The catch was taken’. In Aussie rules football, a ‘catch’ is called a ‘mark’. So we say, ‘He has taken a mark’. Or, “The mark was taken’. I know it seems strange to use the verb ‘to take’ when talking about a ‘catch’ or a ‘mark’, but that’s how it is in English.
      I hope that helps. Keep asking the good questions Luciano. You are doing well. Podcast 2 is quite difficult.
      Cheers and have a great day.

  14. Hi Rob!
    Thanks for the podcast! This one was a little difficult to me, but I learned a lot of new words!
    None of the sports that you mentioned, are famous here in Brazil, I didn’t knew some of them! Here people are fanatical about soccer.
    I always knowledge Melbourne was the place where happens the most of art events in Australia, nice to know that sports also has a space there!

    • Hi Alessandra,
      Thanks for your comment. Perhaps I should have mentioned soccer in my podcast, as it is also very popular in Melbourne. I haven’t been to a game of soccer yet, but perhaps I will one day. I know how popular soccer is in Brazil. I watched the World Cup on television. My wife’s cousin lives in Brazil and he loves soccer. I am glad that you learned some new English words. When you come to Australia, perhaps you will go to an Australian Rules Football game, just for fun.
      Thanks again for your message.
      Have a great day.

  15. Hi Rob,
    I heard your podcast Nr. 2 and after that I watched some short movies about “AFL-Footy” on youtube. What a crazy sport. I did 15 years shotokan karate and thought it is sometimes a bit rough but now I know “Footy” is not for softies or how we called in German…nicht für Weicheier !! Gretings from Germany – Ronald

    • Hi Ronald,
      Thanks for your message. Yes, Aussie Rules Football is a rough sport. Players do get injured and concussion is quite common. However it is an exciting sport to watch and also to play. You mention in your message that you did shotokan karate for 15 years. What grading did you achieve? I also did shotokan karate for about 2 years when I was at university. Later on (when I was 49), I took up Taekwondo with my children. It is interesting that my children dropped out but I kept doing Taekwondo for around 10 years. I enjoyed it a lot but I eventually had to give it up, as my knees and feet just were not able to take the punishment. Nonetheless, it’s a great sport.
      Einen schönen Tag noch!

  16. This podcast is challenging .that I am glad that I learn lots of new vocabulary every day.
    Thanks a lot

    • Hi Nedned,
      Thanks for your comment. Australian Rules football is something you can always talk about when you meet people in Australia. Almost everybody has a favourite team. I hope it gave you some useful vocabulary.

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