Australia v Pakistan – Day 5: The SCG, its car park, a Giant, and a blond.

We’ve lived in Sydney now for almost 17 years, and we’ve never used the SCG car park – for footy or cricket.

We live a 20-minute walk from the SCG so fortunately we’ve never had to. Until today, the 5th day of the Sydney Test.

Marshall and I don’t always attend the final match of the Test season at the SCG. I’ve never been sure why that is. We wouldn’t miss the Ashes mind you, but against the other teams, well, our enthusiasm just isn’t quite the same. We live here, for heaven’s sake, so why don’t we make an effort to go?

Living in Brisbane for 20-odd years, taking time off work to attend the Test at the Gabba became a habit. It was a ritual, and never to be missed. As is the Boxing Day Test; it is sacrosanct, and the thought of missing it would indeed test my slightly obsessive nature: one formed, in part, from habit. And the Sydney Test match just hasn’t become a habit.

I woke this morning, wanting to break that debilitating pattern of behaviour.

The sun was shining (unlike the previous days) and the forecast was rain-free. The host nation looked set for a clean sweep, we had nothing else planned for the day, and six hours at the cricket seemed inviting.

I was even prepared to pay the $69 each for the lowest price concession ticket, as long as it was out of the sun.

No time for breakfast so we packed our Swans backpack with a thermos, threw in a couple of mince pies, two bananas and some water. With my Swans cap on my head, and our red and white cushions in hand, off we went.

Ten metres down the road Marshall, who had just tuned into the ABC broadcast, exclaimed “It’s started. A wicket has fallen”. “Oh hell, they must be starting at 10 instead of 10.30”. “Maybe we should drive there to save time?” There won’t be many people today so we should be able to park in Moore Park Road, close to the ground, I think aloud.

No such luck. We drive up and down a few Paddington streets, all to no avail, and decide to use the car park, expecting to pay perhaps the same as at the MCG.

SWANZ pulls up at the attendant’s hut and the voice says, with a smile on its face, “How about I say Go the Giants”. “You can certainly say it”, I reply, and return the smile – that sort of expression where the corners of the mouth just won’t do as they’re really supposed to.

“That will be $25, thank you”, she says.

“$25 for what, actually?” assuming she’s joking, and having me on because I’m a Swannie!

“For the car park fee”.

The corners of my mouth try not to drop even further as I give her the money, and I think to myself “Bloody Sydney, everything is so damn expensive here. $25 for a car park and only $10 at the MCG. $23 for great seats at the Boxing Day Test, $69 for equivalent here….bloody place”.

Another wicket falls.

“Is there any point in going Marsh? Three wickets down already. Maybe we’ll just get the money back and go home and watch the rest on telly?”

Get out of this mood, Janet, I tell myself. (My mother called me that when she was cross with me, so “Janet” has become the adopted name, when appropriate).

Ten minutes later we arrive at the entrance for security-checking. It was quick and efficient and we weren’t subjected to the body search as had happened in Melbourne. There’s a Sydney plus!

We start walking toward the turnstiles and realise we haven’t bought the tickets yet. Retreating, we’re told there aren’t any ticket sales today, just a gold coin for the McGrath Foundation.

Happy Jan!

“That’s pretty good, Marsh, the car park fee doesn’t seem too bad now, does it?”

We hand over a note instead of a coin and find our way up the many steps to the Churchill Stand.

As we plonk our slightly-exhausted selves down into our seats and unpack the thermos and mince pies, another wicket falls.

The people pile in. The Brewongle and the Churchill Stands start to fill as the word gets out that Sydney is being kind to its patrons today. The adjacent Victor Trumper Stand is opened and more pile in.

Sitting in the Churchill Stand gives me a different perspective of the ground. The O’Reilly Stand is my domain. My memories have always been from the O’Reilly Stand. Memories of Plugger and that point. Memories of Nick Davis and that goal. Memories of the wonderful feats performed by the Blood Brothers at this spiritual home – the SCG. It is sad, in a way, that I don’t have many stand-out memories of cricket – the terrible loss to the Poms in 2011 coming straight to mind.

It is a happy crowd today: cheering as the wickets fall, oohing and aahing as chances are missed, and politely clapping as the odd ball reaches the boundary. Some, however, are nodding off, and two men not far from us are so absorbed in their books that they don’t even look up when the ball goes crashing into the stumps.

Lunch time arrives and the usual assortment of pies, chips and coke are consumed by most around us. Even the chips are more expensive here than in Melbourne, and only half the size! Stop this comparing, Janet! You wouldn’t live back in that cold-weather place ever again. And just think about the harbour and the beaches…! Oh, but what about the MCG – and all the family is there…!!

Not long into the second session the NSW crowd starts becoming very excited. They clap and cheer and sing his name, and “Gary” isn’t even bowling! The big screen shows a tall, blond, blue-eyed beauty, apparently by the name of Mickey Edwards. He is on as a local substitute. I’ve never heard of him. But then, I wouldn’t have, as I don’t follow the NSW cricketers (to that extent), either in Shield or that other form of sport, T20. Apparently he plays for the Sixes. The crowd certainly knows him, and for the remainder of the day – until the 9th wicket falls – Mickey Edwards becomes their hero.

His departure left a gap, and they needed to fill it. So, for a short while they attempted the mundane pursuit of getting the “wave” going. No idea how they thought it would progress further than their own Stand, as, apart from the Members, the others were empty or near empty.

Right on the dot of the scheduled end of the second session, the final wicket falls.

“It’s nice here at the SCG, isn’t it Marsh?”

“Yes, we must do it more often”.

Bring on the Ashes.

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About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016. www.myswansloveaffair.com

Comments

  1. So Australia win the third and final test of the series versus Pakistan. It is a 3-0 triumph for Australia.

    This is the fourth consecutive series here where we have beaten Pakistan 3-0 in a three test series. Twelve consecutive victories ( or defeats), depends how you view it.

    It must be a record to have won/lost twelve tests in a row against an opponent. Has Australia achieved a similar result against an opponent. Has anyone ?

    Glen!

  2. You’re right about the body search at the MCG, Jan: they wand you, swivel you and just about go a frisk. Hard not to walk away feeling violated.

    Lovely sunday morning read and glad karma looked after you after the fleecing when parking.

  3. Peter Warrington says:

    I think it’s Sydney poor timing to often be the host for a dead rubber. It almost seems exhibition cricket/ a social occasion. And expensive.

  4. jan courtin says:

    Despite the initial shock of the car parking fee (and the SCG entry pricing (had we had to have paid), compared to the MCG), it was an enjoyable four hours of cricket. Nothing as exciting as the Boxing Day Test – when few thought a win was on the cards – but it was Test cricket, and that can’t be beaten when talking about the various forms of the game these days.

    And yes, Peter, maybe the dead rubber scenario and the fact that we’d just spent five full days at the MCG, are some of the reasons we don’t always attend the Sydney Tests.

    Can’t wait for the Ashes!

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