In the early 90s I had one the great cultural sporting experiences. It was a Carlton v. Richmond AFL match, which is not particularly enthralling in and of itself (although this last Saturday’s offering was sweet), except that this was on the hallowed turf of the The Oval, London. It was one of those exhibition matches.
The first signal that it was going to be something special was the mint condition pale green FJ Holden parked outside. Inside the 15,000 crowd, (I was with a Kiwi, I reckon the other 14,999 were Aussies! – so much for a foreign exhibition) was as vocal and yobbo-ish as I’ve experienced. Some bloke had a life-size cardboard cut-out of Sticks Kernahan; whenever the ball ended up the other end, he would do a dash across the half forward line with his cut-out … how he got the thing to England I’ll never know.
It was the era when Ange Christou’s raking left foot kicks were greeted by the crowd with the ‘wooosh’. Weird stuff in England. The half time kick-to-kick with an estimated 10,000 people with Sherrins that emerged from everywhere was a total kak, even funnier was the bobbies trying to get everyone off the field for the start of the 3rd. Ever been on the London tube with the train totally packed with Aussies? I have, totally brain bending.
Anyway, last night we had another special cultural sporting moment …
It has been a stinking hot day, mid 30s and the evening is balmy. We are in the centre of Avignon in an outdoor café, it is 8:30. For those who have not been to Avignon and how know Melbourne, imagine Lygon St. closed to traffic with every restaurant spilling their tables out onto the road. Except it is paved and the building are centuries old. Every place has a plasma … so there are screens everywhere.
It is the final of Euro 2008, which doesn’t means heaps to the average Aussie punter … believe me, it has been mania here. Spain has not won for 44 years. Last night they were against Germany. So here we are, and through no planning or design, we find ourselves surrounded by tables of loud Spanish males. When the totally brilliant Spanish striker Torres managed to conjure a goal toward the end of the first half, it was, well …. special.