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Day 39 “Aussy Rules” (Sunday 14th April 2013)

Today I woke up in a sweat at 10:30am because Mick had turned the heating on and fallen asleep. Bearing in mind I didn’t get to sleep until gone 5am, so still tired I went downstairs to sleep on the sofa as the heating wasn’t on downstairs. Alex came down at about 11:30 and I woke up again then feeling a little worse for well after last night. Mick came down as Alex and I were watching TV, then Alex offered to cook us all bacon, egg and brie breakfast muffins which was so nice!

Alex invited me to go and watch the Aussy rules football today and I really want to like the sport plus check out atmosphere and stadium (MCG- Melbourne’s Cricket Ground) so I said I would go. Now about 12:30pm and the Kick off at 3:20pm, Alex rang her sisters fiancé Glen, to see if he wanted to come because Collingwood (Alex’s team) was playing Hawthorn. (Glen’s team) Greg leaves in Monbulk about an hours drive away but was a bit closer with Sam his fiancé (Alex’s sister) so she gave him a lift round. Until he came round I was messaging Luke my mate in England and when he came round we chatted outside in the garden for a while until Alex said we should leaves around 2:45pm. Mick had stayed inside so far today, wasn’t feeling great and didn’t fancy coming to the Oz football so it was just Alex, Glen and me.

The traffic was pretty bad and there wasn’t any parking so now late for the game, Alex just parked in a restricted area and we walked down to the stadium. The first observation I made was that the stadium was huge and the second was the fact that we could buy tickets on the day, its as seats about the same amount of people as Wembley Stadium in England. The tickets cost about $22 each and meant we could sit anywhere… Well I say anywhere I mean any place with general admission which just so happened to be at the top of the stadium in the so called nose bleed section as it was pretty high. For the remaining first quarter and the whole second quarter we stayed up in the gods with me asking Alex and Glen a barrage of questions about the sport… The main one being why call it football when they hardly ever kick it, but Aussies get pissed off at that and say they kick it all the time! I took some photos too and enjoyed the game and atmosphere- the stadium was packed over 80,000 was what I heard on the radio, I would definitely go back!

Something different I noticed though was how social it was in comparison to the football I know and love in England, for example; home and away fans sit amongst one another, beer is allowed in the stands, people chat and talk during the game as they isn’t any chanting and the best one you’re allowed out the stadium as at half time (and maybe at other times to) and then back in. Going back over some of those points, the fans sitting together means families/ friends of different supported teams can go and still have a great day out (like what Glen and Alex were doing) with there opposite replica AFL (Australian Football League) tops on. This sport also has a large woman support base (compared to English football) which means husbands and wives quite often support different teams but can still go together. The fans among each other still cheer goals/ get pissed off but people are there for a good time rather than arguments, in an odd way it adds to the buzz but at the same time the lack of football songs and chants (as they is no one to aim them at) is strange… Then again there always seems to be noise to hear and people tend to make ouch sounds when they ‘feel’ the tackle and give the umpires stick! The beer allowed in the stadium did recently have to be reduced percentage (as people were getting too drunk- its a long game, about 3 hours in total) but the drinking culture here like I said is more about the enjoyment and when people are watching this sport they want a drink. As for the talking I find this strange because its quite fast paced game you can end up missing things but because its such a high scoring game people don’t seem to mind so chatting/ texting and missing things just seem part and parcel as well… I mean we were late for the game but we weren’t the only ones there were hundreds of us still going in, I just don’t understand but this might link to it being a long and high scoring game. Finally the leaving the stadium seemed crazy to me at first but the ticket are barcoded and scanned by a machine so as long as you scan out, you can scan back in, this links to smoking because the MCG is no smoking you have to leave to do it and being a long game people want to come out the stadium for a cigarette. Also the Aussies bring football’s (rugby ball shaped- have to confuse us don’t they!) to the game so they can play with them at half time, as we left the stadium at half time and walked around so many adults and children were having a games, its mad his much you see a ball game and want to join in. This all adds to the day out experience I mean if you travelled here at say 2pm and left after it finished (around 6:15) that’s 4 hours for just one game hence people bring balls, come with family or friends and wanna have a good time plus its relatively cheap for entertainment and in comparison to our football.

Photo

Back to me though and now at half time we head outside (which was down a lot of stairs we were high- plus on the way up it was escalators) for the smokers also Alex had a friend who was a member (this basically means they sit at the equivalent of club level at UK football) and there were some spare seat next to her. So we arranged to me her and started to walk round the stadium to meet Sarah. She was a die hard fan thanks to her dad and paid about $800 for the years membership. She had borrowed some other member cards to get us in, but these were only checked not scanned in and Sarah said sometimes they don’t even check. Our view was not pretty first class and we enjoyed the rest of the game from here. (We did miss part of the third quarter due to walking round the stadium and getting in plus the members area is meant to be for home fans only so Glen was a little out of place but unlike our Football people just put up with it and don’t seem to bothered, maybe the odd comment or two under there breath) I took some photos and videos from the new seats and also thanked Sarah before she left. As the home team Collingwood lost some supports left early but Glen being a Hawthorn fan stayed well after the final buzzer to soak up the atmosphere.

From there we headed back to the car, I had enjoyed the game and hope to go back at some time this year… For now I’m a Collingwood fan because Alex had taken me to my first game although we had lost. Avril and Phillip (brother and sister) are both Essendon fans so won’t be happy with my alliance with Alex and Peter. Apparently Collingwood are the most supported club and therefore the most hated, people joke saying their supports only have 1 tooth! They play in black and white stripes (look similar to Newcastle in England) are nicknamed the Magpies or Pies for short and seem to be a mid league team. After walking with the thousands of people we were back at the car we discovered a parking ticket which was annoying but not really a surprise, then Glen walked to the train station so he could get home and Alex gave me a lift back to hers. I quickly popped in to Alex to collect my things from last night, say bye to Mick and then I headed home.

It was easily 7pm by the time I got back and Avril and Peter were both there as I broke my news of supporting Collingwood, Avril almost wouldn’t let me have dinner but Peter was happy! The food I was allowed in the end was leftover pie, (yes a lot was cooked on Friday night) which was still really nice and after than I Skype’d my parents back in the UK having a really long and nice conversation before I leave to travel on Wednesday. Avril and Peter then went to bed while I text and Facebook’d a few friends, then wrote my diary before going to sleep myself.

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