Victoria Australian rules football team

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Victoria
Badge of Victoria team
Nicknames The Big V
The Vics
Governing body Australian Football League
Victorian Football League
First game
Victoria (Australia) Victoria 7–0 South Australia South Australia
1879

The Victorian Australian rules football team, also known as the Big V, is the state representative side of Victoria, Australia, in the sport of Australian rules football.

The Big V has a proud history, dominating the first 100 years of intercolonial-interstate football, and being the most successful state in State of Origin.[1] After the change to State of Origin rules the results with the other main Australian football states became more even.

Victoria has a long and intense rivalry with South Australia and Western Australia.[2] The Victorian and South Australian rivalry was so intense there was a catchcry in South Australia called "Kick a Vic", and fans would bring signs of the cry to the games.[3] Some of the games between Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia in the 1980s and 1990s have been regarded as some of the greatest games in the history of Australian football.[4] State of Origin games in the 1980s have been described as "the finest expositions of the game ever seen".[5]

After State of Origin ended in 1999, Victoria last played in 2008 in the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match to celebrate 150 years of the sport.[6][7] Despite lobbying for an Interstate Carnival, a one off game was played. The game was a high scoring game with 39 goals scored, Victoria winning 21.11 (137) to the Dream Team 18.12 (120). The game has been described as one of the greatest State of Origin games of all time.[8]

History[edit]

Victorian representative teams have participated in games against other Australian states since the 1870s. Originally these games were played between teams representing the major leagues of each state. For Victoria this meant the Victorian Football Association and the Victorian Football League. Between 1976 and 1999 senior state football was played under State of Origin rules.

The first intercolonial representative game of football was played between Victoria and South Australia in 1879 [9] with teams made up of Victorian Football Association and South Australia Football Association players.

Interstate matches came to be viewed as the highest tier of Australian football, with each state's ultimate goal being that of beating Victoria. The most important of these games were the Australian National Football Carnival games which were played intermittently between 1908 and 1993. Victoria has a dominate record in the carnivals, winning 17 and coming runner-up in another 6.[10] Between 1950 and 1966, these carnivals were contested by separate teams representing the Victorian Football League (VFL) and the Victorian Football Association (VFA); the VFL team was the stronger of the two.

The final senior level State of Origin game, participated in by AFL, players was played in 1999 with Victoria beating South Australia by 54 points.[11] Since this game, all Victorian representative teams, except the team that participated in the 2008 AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match, have consisted of a VFL Victorian team and other amateur state teams competing against other state league teams and amateur state teams.

Honour of playing for Victoria[edit]

There is great pride in wearing the Victorian Jumper. Ted Whitten, a former Victorian selector and coach, said that "the players would walk on broken glass to wear the Victorian jumper".[12]

Many players have spoken about the honour of playing for Victoria. Matthew Lloyd has said "immense pride - you feel like you walk a bit taller when you pull on the Big V".[13] Paul Roos has stated "there seemed to be an aura about that navy blue jumper with the big white V".[14] Gary Ablett Sr has said "I've always found it a tremendous honour to represent your state, in a State of Origin game."[15] Garry Lyon has stated about playing for Victoria that he "loved it",[16] and has been quoted about captaining Victoria saying "it was a great honour".[17] Tony Lockett is known as a big supporter of Victoria,[18] and said after he won the E. J. Whitten Medal that "this will probably go down as one of the happiest day's of my life, and I'll treasure it forever".[19] Brent Harvey, Gerald Healy, Greg Williams and Simon Madden are also big supporters of Victoria.[20]

The Victorian State jumper design is navy blue with a large White "V" on the chest.[21]

Rivalries[edit]

South Australia[edit]

The Victoria and South Australia rivalry is the strongest in interstate football.[22] Although there is a bitter rivalry on both sides, the make up of the rivalry is slightly different.[23] Victoria being the most successful state in interstate football, meant protecting that reputation was of prominent importance.[24] For South Australia it has been described as War, stemming from dislike, a feeling that Victoria don't give them the credit they derserve and previous rules adopted by Victoria in interstate football.[25]

With Victoria placing importance of not letting the rich history of the Victorian team down, in three games in 1995,1999 versus South Australia and the 2008 AFL Hall of Fame Tribute match, Victoria brought in former players to talk about the rich history, the importance of playing for Victoria and not letting that history down.[26][27][28]

In 1991 John Cahill the coach of South Australia commented on Victoria after they had some injuries saying, "they make excuses and they're quick to rubbish people", he also claimed that the Victorians were "loud mouths and very dishonest".[29] Before the game a newspaper in Adelaide had printed a Headline "SA will smash these pansy's". After Victoria won Ted Whitten a Victorian selector showed the paper to the camera.[30]

Garry Lyon has commented on games in South Australia versus Victoria, that fans in Adelaide absolutely loved those games. And the fans in attendance where "hostile and maniacal", and "by the time the games came around they were whipped into a frenzy".[31]

Paul Roos has described the first state game he played in South Australia saying "when walking up the entrance and onto Football Park was an experience in itself. I quickly realised how much hatered existed towards Victorians and their football.[32]

The 1989 Victoria versus South Australia game at the MCG, was the highest attended interstate match, with 91,960 attending with 10,000 people turned away at the gate.[33] After South Australia had won the last three encounters, including the final of the Interstate Carnival the year before, the game had the build up of a grand final, with high anticipation.[34] After the game famous former Victorian player Bob Skilton said "Victoria can be proud it put football in this state back where it belongs".[35]

Neil Kerley has stated that beating Victoria was the ultimate in football in South Australia. After stating that the interviewer said "you've got premierships as a player and coach", but Kerley followed up with "they were great" but continued to state it was the ultimate achievement.[36] Neil Kerley has also stated before an Interstate Carnival grand final with Victoria, that "I don't like the Victorians and I think the South Australians are every bit as good".[37]

Ben Hart has stated talking about South Australia playing Victoria saying,"the games against Victoria have always been such huge occasions for South Australians".[38]

Brett Chalmers was quoted saying before South Australia played Victoria in 1992, "I'd love to beat the Victorians, every South Australian doesn't like the Victorians, it'll be great to beat them".[39]

Ted Whitten has stated about playing against South Australia that "we hate to be beaten".[40] He also stated after a game in 1992 that Victoria narrowly lost, that "geez it's hard to cop it over hear when you get beaten".[41]

Western Australia[edit]

Victoria has an intense rivalry with Western Australia.[42] Western Australia's rivarlry stems from dislike coming from a number of reasons, like a feeling in Western Australia that Victoria never gave them the credit they derserve, despite some of the best players of all time coming from the state.[43] As well as rules Victoria has used in interstate football.[44] It has been described that Western Australia has disdain for Victoria.[45]

Some games widely regarded as some of the best in the history of Australian football were played between Victoria and Western Australia in the 1980s.[46] Some include the games in 1986 and 1984, which were high scoring, with mutiple high goal scorers.[47]

Leigh Matthews in a game against Western Australia knocked out Barry Cable with a high hit, at Subiaco Oval. The incident caused an enormous amount of angst in Western Australia.[48][49]

Shane Parker a former Western Australia player, has stated about his memories of State of Origin growing up "Oh, when I was a kid the State of Origin games were the greatest ever. It was a really big thing to see the WA side play, particularly against Victoria".[50]

The entire Western Australian team that won the 1961 Interstate Carnival was inducted into the Western Australian Hall of Champions, because they won a break through carnival, which had been dominated by Victoria.[51]

Notable State of Origin games[edit]

Victoria has been involved in some of the most notable games in the history of Australian football.[52] These include:

1984: Victoria 16.12.(108) d South Australia 16.8.(104). A packed house at Football Park set the stage for a thriller. Steven Kernhan kicked 10 goals, Paul Salmon 5 and Peter Daicos 3.

1993: South Australia 16.13.(109) d Victoria 14.13.(97). A close game at the MCG saw South Australia just get home. Darren Jarman kicked six goals and Gary Ablett kicked five.

1992: South Australia 19.19.(133) d Victoria 18.12.(120). Wayne Carey described this game as the reason he believed he could succeed in the AFL.[53] In a high scoring game, Steven Kernahan kicked six goals, Paul Salmon kicked five and Paul Roos kicked three. Wayne Carey dominated at centre half forward and kicked two goals.[54] South Australia won the game in the final moments.

1986: Western Australia 21.11.(137) d Victoria 20.14.(134). This game has been described as "the greatest State of Origin game of all time".[55] A high scoring and close game which saw Western Australia win in the dying stages. Gary Buckenara kicked five goals, Brian Peak seven, Dale Weightman five and Brian Taylor four. The game featured Greg Willams, Paul Salmon and Maurice Rioli.

1994: South Australia 11.9.(75) d Victoria 10.13.(73). Another game regarded as one of the greatest games in the history of Australian football.[56] In a close game Darren Jarman kicked six goals and Gary Ablett four.

1986: South Australia 18.17.125 d Victoria 17.13.(115). A high scoring game in which Steven Kernhan, Dermott Brereton and Paul Salmon all kicked four goals each. The game also featured Greg Williams, John Platten, Robert Harvey and Craig Bradley.

Big V in popular culture[edit]

There was a song created about Victoria by Greg Champion, called "Don't Let The Big V Down", which describes a young man about to play his first state game. While he is sitting in the change rooms a man approaches him and tells him not to let the Big V down.

The Victorian side was the first to use the "Big V" motif, which was later used by other codes, for example the shirt of the Melbourne Victory soccer team and the Big V basketball league.

Carnival record[edit]

Victorian State Team[edit]

Victorian Football Association[edit]

National Under 18 Championships[edit]

  • Victoria (1976-1988) 9: 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988
  • Vic Country (1989-) 6: 1989, 1992 (Div 2), 1994 (Div 2), 2000, 2003, 2010
  • Vic Metro (1989-) 14: 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011

Ted Whitten[edit]

Ted Whitten, nicknamed "Mr Football", was one of the most famous Victorian players of all time. He represented the state 29 times and was the most influential figure for the Big V. He was known for his passionate support for interstate football and is honoured with the E. J. Whitten Medal and the E. J. Whitten Legends Game. Many other notable players represented Victoria on numerous occasions, including Gary Ablett, Sr. Dale Weightman, Paul Roos and Robert Harvey.

E. J. Whitten Medal[edit]

The E. J. Whitten Medal is awarded to the best player in a Victorian team. The medal was first awarded in 1985.

Other state teams[edit]

The Victorian Football League has a representative state team that plays annually against the other state league teams. The Victorian Amateur Football Association also has a representative team that plays annually against the other state amateur leagues and local Victorian leagues. There is also a women's Victorian representative team that plays annually in the AFL Women's National Championships and which is the most successful team. All teams wear the Big V jumper.

A Victorian team also competes in an annual veterans game, called the E. J. Whitten Legends Game. Many past AFL greats participate in the game.

References[edit]

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