Melbourne (Day 1), are you a Tiger or a Swan?   Leave a comment

Friday, 20 June, 2014

It’s a funny thing, but the most popular sport in Australia (viewing wise anyway) is Australian Rules Football or Aussie Rules or just plain old Footy. It’s played mostly by teams in the state of Victoria, but there are teams from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in the Australian Football League (AFL). However, the mecca for all Footy fans is the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) or the ‘G as it’s affectionally known. This 95K seat venue is used by the cricket people in the summer, where I watched England get murdered in the Boxing Day match late last year and the AFL in the winter.

I’ve been to a few AFL games at the Manuka Oval, where the Greater Western Giants (GWS) are contracted to play 3 or 4 of the regular season games this season and although the action has been fine, I was left wondering what it would be like to go to a big game in the best AFL venue of them all, the MCG. So a couple of months ago I got a few friends to scan the league schedule for me and let me know which weekend would be a good one to head down to Melbourne and catch a few games at the ‘G. As it turned out the best weekend would have been about two or three weeks away, but when I checked out the flight prices I decided to look at another weekend a little further away so that the flight cost would be cheaper.

And so it was that this afternoon I flew down to Melbourne from Canberra, checked into my apartment, grabbed some lunch/dinner and then headed down the Yarra River towards the MCG. Tonight’s game was between the local team Richmond (the Tigers) and the Sydney Swans (Surprisingly known as the Swans). I bought a general admission ticket from the box office, headed around to the gate and into the ground. I wasn’t sure who I was going to support tonight and on the way I decided that whichever fans I would be sat with, then that would be my team for the night. So when I eventually got to my seat high up on the fourth level and found that was sat next to a family of Swans fans, I knew that I was a Swan for the night. As the start of the game approached, it didn’t look like much of a crowd was going to be in attendance, but I was surprised to learn later that the crowd was 37k, even though it looked smaller than that in the massive stadium.

At the start of the match, the Tigers raced into a decent lead at the end of the first quarter, much to the surprise of most people, including their own fans, as they are current rooted near the bottom of the ladder, whereas the Swans were coming into the match having won their last 8 matches. This lead was maintained throughout the second and third quarters, although the Swans were reducing it slowly but surely all the time. In the final quarter, the Swans suddenly clicked into gear with a couple of their big stars, Buddy Flanklin and Adam Goodes coming to the fore and in the end they ran out 61 – 51 winners over a very disappointed Tigers team.

On the way back to the apartment, I took a quick walk through Federation Square and back along the Southbank of the Yarra River to see what was going on. My plan was to ditch the camera equipment and coat back at the apartment, take a break and then head over the Crown casino where I had heard that they had created a massive World Cup zone based around the Sport bar and watch the Italy v Costa Rica match starting at 2am. Last night England were beaten for the second time in the group stage and this meant that we needed Italy to beat the Costa Ricans in order to keep England in the tournament. The Sports bar was packed with hundreds of Italian fans, which a few Costa Ricans thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, Costa Rica scored first and Italy didn’t have enough in them to get back into the game and it was with a heavy heart that all those Italian fans and me trooped out of the Casino and home.


Posted June 20, 2014 by yermandownunder in Observations, Travels

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