My Greatest Live Experiences have Occurred in an Arena

As discovered by Rob Scott. As translated by Google.

By Johan Croneman

Did you see Carlton v Collingwood yesterday? Great game, a red-hot derby, live on Eurosport. All of Melbourne is said to have stood still.

The game is a sort of cross between rugby and football played on an oval field with an oval ball. It would be helpful to know the rules – but to really appreciate and love the sport one must definitely be brought up with it. You sit there like a living question mark, especially if you look at the crowd – sometimes you realize that someone has done something exceptionally good, even beautiful. Something unusual.

To the untrained eye it looks completely random.

I have learned to love football as it is played in Europe, the game, the beauty. But there was something else that first took hold of the soul: the Arena.

The stadium which meets Carlton and Collingwood is called the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a magnificent looking construction. Filled to capacity it must be a dream to walk onto. The television images give only a fraction of the feeling. Almost all of my greatest live experiences (and some of them have also been my greatest moments in general) have to do with an arena. When you take that first step onto the playing surface, and the whole field, the venue, opens – the hugely powerful surrounds, the audience, the lights, the smells.

The best home cinema cannot compete with this.

Nick Hornby describes this sense better than most in “Fever Pitch”, where the protagonist’s father takes him along to his first Arsenal match. He has never been interested in football, but was completely won over after his first visit to Highbury. He feels at home there long before the kickoff. He turns immediately to his father and says, ‘Dad, can we come here next week?!

That’s what a stadium can do – enthrall you. Forever.

I understand very little of the game between Carlton and Collingwood – but I understand everything else when I see the close-ups of the crowd, the fans, the old uncles in the supporters’ caps, the toddlers, the old ladies in opposition colours. The same enormous pleasure as we have here. The same sense of community and togetherness. I always think that it is just beautiful. The place is as important as the game.

Then I see a moment on TV 10, the popular American show “Sports Science”. In this episode, one of the world’s best practitioners of Combat-k will show how he trained himself to receive the rock-hard kicks to the testicles. True.

A huge black guy kicks the Combat-guy between the legs with all the power he has (he warms up by doing a karate chop right over his Adam’s apple).It was a king-hit that would have killed anyone. Combat guy (without protection) stretches out his hand and says, ‘Good kick. ”

Some of us may see also the beauty of this “scientific study”. But how meaningless is it …?!

Originally published at


  1. Combat K guy. Ah, so he was watching the Waite in the Carlton Richmond game in the first round.

  2. John Butler says

    Phantom, there’ll be no Knacker jokes thank you.

    This is a classy outfit.

  3. It doesn’t sound like Combat K has any JB.

    No mortal I know can stand that sort of treatment.

    “As much class as a rat with a gold tooth”,perhaps?

  4. Sounds like Combat-K guy is related to “Iron Balls” McGinty as kicked by the Steve Martin character in ‘The Jerk’…

  5. Tim Ivins says

    Fascinating article, I wonder if Johan will tune in again next week?

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