Mark & Greg’s Lions Ozyssey – Part 2

Ah Brisbane, the big, beautiful but bit boring borough. Seriously, let’s look at the top 3 ‘things to do in Brisbane’ according to our hostel brochure:

1. Visit Australia Zoo
2. Visit Moreton Island
3. Visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

You might notice that none of those things are actually in Brisbane. In other words the best way to avoid being bored is to leave. We didn’t really have that option so tried to make our own entertainment.

On Wednesday we followed the tour guides advice and traveled up to Australia Zoo. I won’t bore you with pictures of cute animals but the highlight of the day was when another group of Lions fans introduced their pet line to a real wallaby (okay it’s a kangaroo, but pretty close). The result didn’t bode well for the upcoming match!

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On Thursday we tried to go on a tour of the Castlemaine XXXX brewery. Unfortunately all of the ever increasing numbers of Lions fans decided to do the same, so there was no room at the inn. Whilst sharing a pint with some equally frustrated drinkers from Leicester they informed us of a Classic Legends game taking place a short bus ride away in Ballymore. With tickets still available we decided to make the trip. I was expecting a small crowd, maybe a couple of thousand bored Lions fans. What we discovered was a 75% full 18,000 seater stadium…

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…to see Lewis Moody, a couple of old blokes who the fellas from Leicester knew and some other stand ins that looked like they hadn’t picked up a ball in years. If the Fourth XV are still looking for fixtures I think we should give them a call. They even renamed the team ‘British and Irish XV’ so as not to sully the name Lions. I’m sure you’ll all jump on my back and say “it’s only a charity game” but I’ve played in charity games with better quality play and we weren’t charging $30 a ticket. Meh.

Luckily Saturday more than made up for it. We went wildlife spotting at lunch time and found a couple of Parrotts, or Trev and John as you might know them. Afterwards they went off to a swanky pre-match reception while we went back to our hostel to get changed. Fascinating to see how the other half live. We left our room at 16:30 and everywhere was already buzzing. The bars were literally a sea of red and barely five minutes went by without a rendition of “Lions! Lions! Lions!” The queues for the bars were massive so we got into the ground quite early to see the warm up and pre-match ceremonies.

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The atmosphere was fantastic with red and gold jerseys sat side by side and all in good spirits. I assume you know what happened in the game. The ending was a surreal moment of being terrified, then elated, then strangely flat knowing that we came so close to losing. But we didn’t stay flat for long as we hit the town to celebrate the victory. We met up with John and Trev again, before bumping into a few of the players.

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Sunday was spent a little hungover, mooching around the city, before travelling to Melbourne on Monday. But that will have to wait for Part 3.