Is this Australia’s wonkiest oval?

Written by:

Picasso eat your heart out — this AFL “oval” is a cubist’s dream.

On the biggest island in the Gulf of Carpentaria — between the Northern Territory and northern Queensland — is Alyangula Oval, a footy field that’s as Australian as the meat pie.

One of three used in the Groote Eylandt Football League (GEFL) — and the only one with lights — the oval looks like it was marked by a linesman who had one too many beers.

But it’s really just a bit of Aussie ingenuity that highlights the locals willingness to do whatever it takes to enjoy the game they love.

Groote Eylandt Football one of three grounds used in the local league

Groote Eylandt Football one of three grounds used in the local leagueSource:Supplied

The lights are the big issue with the ground, which was shared on reddit/AFL recently, cutting into the forward pocket and providing its unique shape.

Swerving in and out at one end while going almost straight as a tryline at the other, the forward 50 is a goal kickers nightmare.

And the off-centre centre circle is another bizarre aspect adding to the artistic appeal of the ground.

Robert Hince is a man with many hats in the Groote Eylandt community. He’s an AFL regional development manager who coaches the GEFL representative team, umpires games and runs training sessions to name a few of his roles.

Hince said Alyangula is one of the unique things about being involved in regional football.

“You can only do what you can do up here with the ground markings,” Hince said.

“That’s the problem with that pocket — whoever in their wisdom put the light poles in, put them in that pocket in the middle of the ground so we have to make do.”

The GEFL has four teams play in the competition across a 12-round season with four games at each ground in a town called Umbakumba, one called Angurugu and Alyangula, which hosted night matches throughout the season.

The Groote Eylandt Football League has been a big success in 2018.

The Groote Eylandt Football League has been a big success in 2018.Source:Supplied

The final round of the season was played at the ground but it will see no finals action.

The honour falls to Umbakumba, a ground Hince said is “about the same size as the MCG” and has some unique challenges of its own.

“There is no real grass on it, everything just burns off and there’s no irrigation on the ovals down there,” he said.

“It’s just sort of weeds and dirt. I wouldn’t want to play on it but these blokes love it and would play on anything.”

Previously a two-team competition, the GEFL now has four — the Swans, the Tigers, the Lions and the Dreamteam — bringing together the two local indigenous communities on the island made up of the Anindilyakwa people.

In the past, the league had just two teams split down township and family lines, which had led to some trouble in the past.

“What used to happen was Anurugu and Umbakumba would have a team and there was a little bit of trouble with fighting because it was family,” Hince said.

“We’ve split that up so no team is one clan or one family together against another and we haven’t had one bit of trouble on ground all year which is great.”

Source, Images & More: