The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
The Footy
How will their shirts ever get white again?How will their shirts ever get white again?

I went to see my first live Australian rugby game - otherwise commonly referred to as "the footy." Australians have a knack for shortening just about any name you can think of: garbos are garbage collectors, not members of Greta's family, the arvo is what comes after 12 o'clock noon, and Bazza is Barry's nickname. It doesn't matter what family Barry comes from, he is always Bazza, just like Terry is always Tez.

So, Australian football, aka rugby, is the footy. The Illawara Dragons were playing South Sydney Rabbitohs (Russell Crowe's team.) And what a game it was. We arrived an hour and a half before the big game, about half way through the premier league game. The premier league is what the second string gets to play. Oki stadium was not yet packed, so I had time to look around me and observe the Muslim women dressed in black from head to toe arrive with their husbands dressed in St George football jerseys. Some families arrived, split in their loyalties with kids wearing Rabbitohs jerseys and the parents wearing Illawara's. It was a day for contrasts.

I got the distinct feeling that this was a "home town" kind of game. It reminded me of the high school football games I went to as a teen, but with older players. The score board was changed by hand, although there was a high tech video screen for showing the replays. Aussie meat pies were sold from kiosks as well as hot dogs.

The energy from the crowd was infectious. There were ear piercing whistles and booing when the away team's mascot hopped onto the field. The teams came out onto the field in their short shorts and jerseys, and not much else. No helmets, no knee pads, and, as I found out, you can tackle an opponent by grabbing onto his shorts and pulling them down to his ankles. One player wound up exposing his satiny blue briefs to the crowd.

Apparently, the Dragons got off to a rough start when I heard Dan declare "Oh, they're packin' a scrum right away. That's not a good start." I shrugged my shoulders, not knowing what a "scrum" was. I was there to people-watch.

We didn't have reserve seats, so we sat with the hooligans on the grass slopes. Men started to arouse the crowd by calling out cheers that regular supporters obviously knew very well. It reminded me of when I was in Pep Club. I wish I'd known the cheers.

The Dragons got the first Try. I don't know why they call it a try. It's a goal - a "touch down," and the ball has to be firmly grounded in order for it to count. The hooligans went wild, and above the din was distinctly heard a voice calling "Run Forrest, run!"

Dirt clods flew and I figured that no one was going to ever get those jerseys white again. This is what I think of when I see well-built guys rolling around in mud. Who's going to wash those jerseys? And what will they use to get them white again? The sound of colliding bodies reverberated across the field.

As it turned out, Dan was the best commentator, explaining everything to me so that I would understand the game. "You get six passes before the ball turns over," he explained, "which is why they usually kick the ball so that it stays in play."
I still don't totally understand the game. There was intermittent profanity issuing from the crowd of 13,000, and a few verbal spars, but, considering how much Aussies love their footy, no fighting.

At half time, the team mascots ran a relay with the likes of SpongeBob Squarepants and other cartoon characters that I'm too old to appreciate. "Yakkity Sax," otherwise known as The Benny Hill Show Theme Song, played in the background while these surreal characters ran around the field. They were followed by cheerleaders dancing to some electronic dance tune, and the children's leagues doing rugby demos. Down home entertainment. Nothing fancy. It made me smile.

The Dragons won (sorry Russell). We were glad (we live in the Illawara area - it's great when "your" team wins) - and cold. Our joints were stiff from sitting on the grass, and as soon as the sun went down, icicles hung in the air. I was dying to pee for most of the game.
I can't wait until we go again. And next time, I'm going to pay more attention to the game.
posted by Melanie O. at 7:16 PM -
Post a Comment

About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
See my profile...

Another Retro Housewife
Brought to you by
Previous Posts
If you read this blog,
you're not alone!
Sydney Weather
    The WeatherPixie
Favorite Links

You are visitor number