Stateside Footy is a cable access television program featuring the sport of Australian Rules Football as it is played here in the United States.
Stateside Footy is produced with the assistance of WCTV - Wilmington Community Television in Wilmington, Massachusetts. It is hosted by Bill Robert and features complete match telecasts, and other segments dealing with footy and its spread in the U.S. It can be seen on WCTV’s cable channels as well as online through our website and Facebook links.
Bill Robert has been with WCTV for five years, working for most of that time as the station’s Operations Manager. In addition, he has been the play-by-play voice for Wilmington High School hockey, for both the Boys and Girls Varsity teams.
His interest in Aussie Rules Football began in the early 1980s, in the early days of ESPN. In these times before the network was known as “The Worldwide Sports Leader”, the network would put anything and everything on the air to fill the time they had available. This led to events such as Frisbee tournaments and Lumberjack competitions making their way into the regular program schedule. Included in this mix of offbeat sports was Australian Rules Football. At that time, the sport gained a cult following with the American audience, mostly due to its mix of high scoring and physical action.
When the game disappeared from ESPN, interest in the States waned, save for groups of die-hard fans and Aussie expatriates, some of which would later start the football clubs that now make up the United States Australian Football League.
Bill himself lost touch with the game in these pre-internet days. In the mid-2000s, Bill found the game again as Fox Sports Net would run a weekly hour-long highlight show from the Australian Football League, supplementing his viewing with any Footy clips he could find on YouTube.
In 2009, he came across the website of a Boston-based Aussie Rules team, the Boston Demons. Unfortunately, their season had already come to a close by the time he found the web site. But the next season, he got in touch with the Demons and arrangements were made to videotape a couple of games.
2010 also marked the return of live Footy matches to the ESPN network, with the channel airing four games on the network. In the wake of the successful taping of the Demons games, and in the midst of the increased awareness of Aussie Footy in the
U.S., Stateside Footy was born. The focus of the show is to increase the visibility of both the local and national Aussie Rules community to the American audience.
The other part of Bill’s mission is to inspire community television producers around the country to create programs featuring the teams in their own areas, and to encourage USAFL teams to seek out the public access centers in their communities and take advantage of this very valuable public media resource.