Who Do You Think You Are?

As I jumped on the tram immediately after work on Friday, the familiar thrill of Friday Night Football was back. The worries of the five previous working days were swiped away with my Myki as I shook off the dust of the CBD and crawled towards Brunswick St. The clear air of the weekend descended upon me as I approached the Kodiak Club. A different pre-game venue for a different game. This wasn’t anAFLpre-game, this was a rally. This was The Rebelution.

 

The pre-game venue was specifically chosen as the Kodiak Club serves traditional North American fare, and I was meeting a traditional North American. My mate Matty is a man whose head of hair defines him: full bodied, unruffled and distinguished to the point of absurdity. Hailing from Vancouver Island, Matt displays the same demeanour whilst donning a turtle-neck and caressing a full-bodied shiraz as he did when he emerged from the Darwin Police Station on the ’09 footy trip after an overnight stay for being overly witty and as dry as the local sand-pits to the local constabulary.

 

Although Matty loves hisNHL, his NBA (Steve Nash went to his high school) , his lacrosse (probably) and has even tried his hand at Aussie Rules, his true passion is rugby. In his opinion, heaven is not a worthy venue for the ‘running game’. Through an unrelenting 6 month propaganda campaign including newspaper links, youtube videos, numerous Google images and eventually (and most importantly) a ticket purchase, he is the reason I’m attending the Rebels’ opening home game.

 

Joining us on our trip to the barricades is Watto. Being a fellow Bombers man, and having attended a Rebels game last season, Watto is acting as the conduit between myself and Matty. Blessed with a sharpness in wit that acts as a fine counterpoint to his athletic ability, Watto is able to express his lament over Scott Gumbleton’s latest injury, look up a youtube video (this was the hit of the night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQuXWSItmZM ) , discuss the finer points of rugby and make cheap Canadian gags all without missing a beat. As we wolfed down our wings, Watto was hatching the plan to get into the bay where our premium seats were on his GA ticket. As he confirmed the plan, and slid a small bottle of Bundy down his pants, it was clear that all boxes had been ticked.

 

AAMI Park is a fantastic facility. I knew this because (a) I’d been there before, and (b) Matty had used this a selling point for the past 6 months. As we took our $68 (plus booking fee) seats, it was clear that the crowd was below expectations. Given that there was noAFLon in town, and that 24k had been to a wet Socceroos dead rubber midweek, I was expecting a crowd of 20k plus. The fact that the opposition was from NSW should’ve only added to the occasion. Unfortunately, 16k was the final result.

 

With Matty keen to explain the rules to me, I felt compelled to ask as many dumb questions as possible – ‘How many points for a field goal?’, ‘Don’t you have to kick on the 5th tackle?’, ‘Why don’t they kick a Steve Johnson snap from there?’ – but clearly I wasn’t bothering Matty. Quite simply, I was being an idiot, and plus, The Rebels were giving him something to be concerned aboot.

 

Even from a non-rugby follower, it was clear that The Tahs were walking through the Rebels defence. I knew enough to know that the point of rugby defence is prevent your line from being broken and this was happening time and time again. I also felt that The Rebels were being far too conservative. They won a couple of penalties early on and just settled for field goals (oops, sorry Matty) when they clearly could’ve pushed for a try. I know that the object of the game is to score tries as I asked Matty a few times….

 

When half-time arrived, so did Watto….and so did our Bundys. Having managed to escape from the cheap seats, he was disappointed that you couldn’t see ‘how massive they are’ from our Platinum vantage point. Clearly that is one of the appeals of the game. The sheer size and strength of the players is awesome, and although I’ve played Aussie Rules my whole life, I’m not sure I’d ever want to be in the first line of a scrum. I also love the line-outs. It’s always great to see the big men fly…

 

As the Bundys and beers kicked in and the game petered out, Watto and I became distracted in our conversation. To be honest, it wasn’t hard to do. The Rebels just weren’t good enough and the Tahs were doing it easy. With a complete lack of opposition fans in the crowd, this obviously robs the stadium of any atmosphere and you have to make your own entertainment. Thankfully, Watto and I remembered that Matty had revealed a few weeks ago that he had never heard of the famous Canadian/British tennis player Greg Rusedski. This led us into a chorus of ‘when the ball hits the net, and the umpire calls let, that’s Rusedski….when the serve starts to kick and you can’t get a nick, that’s Rusedski….”

 

I don’t think Matty noticed though. “Great stadium” he kept saying. “Not a bad seat in the house ey”

 

I’m not prepared to write Super Rugby off at this stage. The players are world class, the league is robust, and I hear the stadium is a tremendous facility. I’ve also been to someAFLgames that I would not subject anyone to, and I’ve been told (and subsequently read) that Friday’s game will not be appearing on God’s iPad anytime soon.

 

However, if you’re trying to build a following, and you’re playing at a stadium where there isn’t a bad seat in the house, maybe $68 for a ticket is a bit steep. I mean, it didn’t bother myself or Watto, but that’s $72 Canadian and that’s a lot of chicken wings.

 

As we trailed off into the night, I thanked Matty for his generosity. Suddenly his demeanour changed. Out of no-where, his fists clenched, his cheeks went as crimson as his favourite wine and his eyes started to widen. The emotion of the night had got to him and he only wanted to know one thing.

 

“Who do you think you are?” “I am!”

About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.

Comments

  1. You’re right, Andrew – $68 is a bit steep for a code trying to crack into a new market.

    Although, that said I somehow found my way to the corporate lunch that doubled as the launch of the Rebels and it’s fair to say that at least three-quarters of them would’ve driven something European to the venue.

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