Gold Coast footy alive and well

The line waiting for shuttle buses near Jupiter’s Casino is reminiscent of the old VFL Grand Final camp-outs.

 

Gold Coast enjoys an early lead over the Cats. Unfortunately it wasn’t to last.

 

The Gee-long Cheer Squad in full voice.

 

By Cheryl Critchley

“Gee-long, Gee-long, Gee-long!” Some things never change, even 1800km from Sleepy Hollow. We’re at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast and the Cats’ Cheer Squad sounds as hick as ever. “Gee-long, Gee-long!”

The small but dedicated band of “Southerners” is surrounded by Suns supporters decked out in their still shiny new red and yellow gear. Many are members, which is a good sign for the AFL’s second newest club.

There are also a surprising number of Geelong fans who have made the journey from Victoria to cheer their team on. We’re a bunch of ring-ins, a family of Tigers who just happen to be here for the school holidays and decided to tag along for the ride. At $60 including booking fee and transport for two adults and three kids, it’s cheaper than a couple of hours at Ripley’s Odditorium, which would have set us back more than $70.

So we’ve hopped on the bus from Surfers and joined the massive shuttle bus queue opposite Jupiter’s Casino. The line is surprisingly long; us hardened Vics half expected a couple of hundred stragglers to be wandering into the ground at the last minute, but this queue is positively One Direction-like. It’s almost like catching the bus from Nunawading to Waverley for a top of the table clash in the good old days.

On the way to Carrara we pass such landmarks as the majestic Italo-Australian Club advertising it’s $7 footlong meatball sub, Coco’s Shopping Centre, Cypress Gardens retirement community, gated estates in the middle of nowhere with tacky apartment blocks overlooking man made canals, endless McMansions and a paddock full of cows.

For some reason Gold Coast’s wizz-bang new ground, which looks a bit like Simmonds Stadium on steroids, has no public car parking – a big no-no for AFL fans. It is a pain having to catch the bus out, but the trip is well organized and there are plenty of buses, unlike Melbourne’s privatised train system that never seems to have footy specials when you need them and ALWAYS has dozens of half empty Glen Waverley trains sailing past platforms packed with peed off Belgrave and Lilydale passengers (don’t get me started!).

Unlike Simmonds Stadium, where we waited 45 minutes to get in after a power outage, once we arrive at Metricon we’re straight in and find good free seats near the Gee-long Cheer Squad. It is kept relatively quiet in the first quarter, with the Suns playing some good footy and the Cats uncharacteristically inaccurate.

At quarter time The Suns are 4.6.30 to the Cats’ Richmond-like 2.6.18.

The atmosphere is almost as good as the weather, a sunny 20 or so Celsius, which sees us Mexicans in T-shirts while the locals shiver in jackets and scarves. The only problem with the sun here is that it sets in about five minutes at 5pm, leaving us in darkness by three quarter time.

We’re all having a great time except football-hating Ben, who can’t believe he’s been dragged to an AFL game during his Queensland holiday. The only time he perks up all day is when the stadium announcer says everyone gets a free quarter pounder at Maccas with their entry ticket. Why doesn’t that happen back home?

Ben amuses himself playing on the iPod and sticking jelly joiner lollies up his nasal passage. “Look, they make good nose plugs,” he says. At least he’s having fun. When we told him he was coming to the footy he’d said: “No, don’t say the F word!!!”

It took a promise of spending all day tomorrow at Dreamworld and $5 to spend on lollies at Coles (hence the jelly joiners) to get him on the bus. Not to mention the chocolate donuts and the Mars Bar. I just hope Human Services doesn’t search our bags.

The Suns continue to dominate the second quarter and the Cats continue to kick badly. Us Richmond fans feel right at home after our team kicked 23 points against Melbourne the previous day. We watched that game at the surfers RSL, which incidentally serves the best $7.70 burger and chips you’ll find this side of the black stump. That’s about the cost of a beer at an AFL game these days.

But I digress … The cats have kicked three unanswered goals to pinch the lead. Local hero Gazza Ablett has the chance to snatch it back but misses from 30. At least no-one has booed him. That novelty seems to have worn off.

Gold Coast fans know the rules and yell “ball, yeah” at the right times. They even know when to boo the umpires. Impressive. Unlike the time we went to Sydney years ago and the so called Swans supporters clapped like they were at a game of tennis.

At the 25 minute mark, just when it looked like the Cats were taking control, number 28 (apologies to Melbourne supporters) marks and goals, putting the Suns back in front. We have a game on our hands. Hawkins has a shot on the siren and misses, giving the Suns a three point break at half time.

The players even have a minor brawl on the way to the rooms. This is just like home! Ben’s also happy as his iPod still has 50 per cent charge, which should see him through the second half. Phew.

The Cats start the third quarter with a flurry and after yet another point finally take the lead courtesy of a Stokes snap. Those daggy chants start up again, Gee-long, Gee-long, Gee-long. But it doesn’t last long as the Suns are soon back in front.

Then the Cats are again thanks to Hawkins. At the 12 minute mark it’s a point the diff. Then James Kelly snaps truly and the Cats edge ahead. They’ve finally got a sniff. Another one to Geelong and it’s 13 points.

Gold Coast answer, only to have it queried with the third umpire to see if it was touched. It wasn’t, so they’re back in it. Until Geelong stretches it back out to 13 at the 23 minute mark. Seconds late Hawkins marks in the pocket and kicks another.

Showing good fight the Suns respond again, making it 13 points at the 26 minute mark. A controversial 50 metre penalty, which was a bit tough, then sees the Cats goal and Gold Coast fans vent their spleens. It’s good, old fashioned footy.

At three quarter time it’s the Cats by 19 – 87 to 68. Brian wants to call it quits – it feels weird being able to leave before the siren as we always stay to the end of Richmond games – but I don’t reckon it’s over yet. We wait.

Ha! I was right! Fifty one seconds in Ablett snaps truly after running out of team mates to pass it to – there’s only two kicks in it. Thanks largely to Gazza Gold Coast have lifted, but are still finding it hard to match the Cats’ class and decision making, which has been lacking for much of the game but shone through when needed.

The old masters still know how to produce it when the crunch comes.

A Hawkins mark in the square and goal just on the nine minute mark is a case in point. It’s back out to 18. Another one to Chappy at the 12 minute mark and it’s not looking good.

Not even Ablett can turn things around when he misses what would have been a team – lifting goal on the run.

Another to the Cats and they now lead comfortably by 32 points with about 10 minutes left to play. Then Gold Coast finally answer, but it’s probably too late. If Geelong gets the next goal we agree to head for the bus stop and beat the crowds.

At 15,824 it’s not a bad turn out, and probably better than a Melbourne Freo game at the ‘G.

We finally head out at the 25 minute mark, only to hear Gold Coast kick another and narrow the difference to 14, the eventual final margin. To the credit of Suns fans few were leaving when we did, unlike back home where the sooky la las would have bolted minutes earlier.

It also meant we got straight on the bus and back to Surfers less than 30 minutes after the siren. Woo hoo. It’s been a worthwhile afternoon/early evening. Footy is alive and well on the Gold Coast and it’s a lot more fun that looking at Ripley’s freeze dried heads and morbidly obese men weighing 600 kg. We can always see them next time we play Collingwood…

Comments

  1. Cheryl – I caught the last half of this game on the TV in a place called St Helens in Tasmania. My view of the game was that it stank. Horrible.Though I must admit that the Suns can play some pretty exciting football at times.

    But your description gives it a whoile new life. Guess it proves once again the value of actually being there and feeling the buzz.

    Thanks for the piece.

  2. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Ta Dips. It does go to show that being there is a whole different ball game. We were excited just to see AFL being played in such a different location, so the quality of the game didn’t really matter to us. The fact that Gold Coast was competitive (or Geelong equally bad) was an added bonus!

  3. Cheryl

    I love the fact that you took your footy hating son 2 states away from the MCG, lulled him into a false sense of footy free bliss, then took him to a Gold Coast game!

    The F word!!

    Brilliant

    Sean

  4. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Hi Sean,
    It took some doing. The $5 on lollies was the clincher. Not sure that will work when he’s a teenager, but by then he’ll be old enough to stay home on his own :-).

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