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Round 16 – Sydney v Hawthorn: Brown and Gold Billionaires

Sydney Swans v Hawthorn Hawks

Saturday 18th July 2015
Round 16, ANZ Stadium

Brown and Gold Billionaires
by Vivienne Williams


I’m perched – rather, squashed – against the window of the crowded shuttle as it departs the car park, en route to ANZ Stadium. The atmosphere is alive with fizzling anticipation, although I can’t help but feel like an outcast in my proud display of brown and gold amongst the overflowing red and white around me. With my sister beside me, I peer anxiously down the aisle, double-checking yet again that Dad has managed to board the bus. It doesn’t take long for me to find him; he stands out like Wally, the irony dawning on me that everyone around him is sporting Wally’s signature colours. I conduct a quick scan of the perimeter and conclude that an estimated ten other Hawthorn fans are accompanying us on the bus. The insecurity of such low numbers is foreign to me; a clear contrast to a game back home in Melbourne, where Hawthorn fans seem to flock the stadium in multiplying magnitudes. This doesn’t settle well with the nerves in the pit of my stomach; I hope desperately that the Hawks can deliver tonight.

As I step off the shuttle upon our arrival at the stadium, several thoughts are pulsing through my mind; will our seats be undercover? It’s been raining an awful lot this afternoon. Why are there so many gates? Why are they all labeled alphabetically? Now I feel as though I’m in some Doctor Seuss fantasy. Well it’s kind of fitting, seeing as everyone is dressed in the same colours as the Cat in the Hat…

We begin the familiar trek around the perimeter of the ground until we spot our relatives. My grandparents (my grandfather clad in a Sydney scarf despite his loyalties to Richmond) greet us enthusiastically, as do my two great-aunties who are each sporting opposing colours. It appears our allegiances are divided. We slowly trudge all the way back around the ground through the crowd of people until we find the right gate, and I nestle myself in amongst the swarming crowd flowing into the stadium.

Once we’ve all made our way successfully inside (which takes a while because at least three from our group have each managed to get lost) and the oval approaches view, I survey my surroundings with satisfaction; there is a good turnout, and anticipation seems to be coursing through the air. Finding our allocated seats is somewhat of a struggle, but we manage thanks to the diligence of my sister. The stadium’s roof stoops magnificently to sport a unique curved structure, but as a platform for viewing I feel slightly isolated from the action of the ground. However I can’t complain; it’s not like my vision is obstructed and besides, we’re slightly elevated but at the same time not too far off the ground. Just the way I like it.

The Hawks parade onto the ground much to the pleasure of their limited live fan base. My confidence about tonight is still not greatly established, but this isn’t to say that I have eliminated all hope. I try to remain optimistic, comforting myself with positive visualization. It is then that a mighty roar erupts as the Swans emerge onto the ground, visibly boosted by the enthusiastic reception.

The build up to the first bounce has erupted into its climax as the crowd booms and cheers. I find myself once again a victim of the contagious energy of the game, as I notice that my wandering thoughts and attention to anything outside the walls of the stadium are slowly dissolving, so that all that matters in my meek universe is what is happening right before my eyes on this vast green oval.

At quarter time, Hawthorn has raced to a stellar start with a stunning accuracy. Dad observes the resentful silence in the row behind us as the vocal supporter along with his screaming companions, who were on a roll as the match began, aren’t so cocky anymore. I harbor some satisfaction at this; things are looking up already. But then again it’s only early…

The second quarter marks an event that will be scribed in the history books as Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin kicks his milestone seven-hundredth goal. In hearing the cries of triumph from the spectators and watching Buddy’s brief moment of celebration with his teammates, I’m brought back to Saturday 30th August 2008, Round Twenty-Two against Carlton. Buddy booted his hundredth goal in just the Home and Away, prompting the spillage of hundreds of ecstatic Hawks fans onto the ground. Holding onto the feeling of pride that engulfed me at that glorious time, I feel happy for Buddy, and I can tell that my Dad does too. I suppose there’ll always be a place in my heart for Buddy; he did give me such pleasant and cherished memories.

At half time the Hawks lead by thirty points, and a tense atmosphere has engulfed the stadium. At this point the row behind us is virtually empty, which is just as well because I know the Sydney supporters around us are becoming restless.

Cyril Rioli steals the show in the third quarter, scoring from just inside fifty within the first thirty seconds of the quarter. To top this off he snags a spectacular speckie later on, helping the Hawks maintain a fifty-five-point lead over the Swans. This segment of the match is not to be without controversy, however, after Jarryd Roughead has his jumper ripped by exposed bolts in the gutter whilst he skids to crash into the fence.

Hawthorn finish strongly in the final quarter to mark a triumphant eighty-nine-point victory over Sydney.  I know that this experience is rare for a Melbournian like me, to be standing victorious in a stadium where we are greatly outnumbered. It’s a moment I treasure at what could be the last AFL game to be hosted by ANZ Stadium.

Outside the ground my Dad, my sister and I part ways with my grandparents and my great-aunties, who are all smiles despite Sydney’s loss. We all appreciate the opportunity to experience such a ripping game in each other’s company, and in this sense the outcome is almost lost upon us. Unsure of which shuttle to board, we decide to make our own way purposefully back to the car by foot, and then we end the night with a celebratory pizza and a movie back at our Bondi beachfront apartment. Tonight it’s we who are the Bondi Billionaires!



All Footy Almanac stories of Round 16 – Sydney v Hawthorn

All Footy Almanac stories of Round 16

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  1. G’day Vivienne.
    And well played. Love that scene-setting opening paragraph.
    Each trip to the game is slightly different, isn’t it?
    I think most good nights end with pizza and a movie.
    Keep writing.

  2. Yvette wriby says

    Hi Vivienne Beautifully written. I rode every bump on the bus and to the ground with you. Great story to begin your regular pieces to the almanac. Well done

  3. James Gilchrist says

    Welcome to the Knackers community Vivienne. I remember that bus trip to ANZ Stadium a few years ago with the Collingwood hordes. Obviously a more refined crowd than Hawks supporters but I could still draw some parallels. It’s funny how pizza offers a good closure on a game of football. I find it a good way to end games either as a way to cap a good win or else heal the wounds of defeat. Nicely done! JG.

  4. Great debut piece Vivienne- glad to see another Gen Hawk write about the game that we love most.
    Terrific how you addressed Buddy’s 700th- such a special yet difficult moment, you articulated the spectrum of emotion perfectly. Look forward to reading more of your writing soon.

  5. Great report Vivienne. I rarely read Hawthorn reports but it was a nice change to read this one.

    You’ll simply have to meet the happiest man in the world (R. Kane) at an Almanac function. You’ll recognise him. He’ll have one of a multitude of Hawks Premiership t-shirts on. Disgraceful things they are!

  6. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Hey Vivienne. As a Swan, I can’t say I enjoyed this recount altogether – that was a mauling, that night! And I can’t say that I will miss ANZ Stadium – or ‘Stade Australie’ as I like to call it post Olympics. But I am delighted to read your words and look forward to more!

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