In the interests of closure I’ll post the last part of this even though it’s pretty late. As always you have the choice to ignore it.
One of the things I decided right at the outset is that this blog should be about rugby and not ‘Mark and Greg’s holiday photos’. Consequently I’m not going to tell you about many of the awesome things we did between the second test and the end of our trip. If you want to hear about that you’ll have to buy me a pint, but I’m enforcing the same rule as this bar in Melbourne:
There was no midweek game and we didn’t attend the Legends game (though the Lions won it for those keeping score) so we’ll dive straight into the day of the third test. Over the last two Saturdays we’d developed a routine of going out for a late lunch with Trev and John, going back to our digs to get changed and then going out a couple of hours before kick off. That worked well in Brisbane, which is small, and Melbourne, with an excellent tram service, but wasn’t practical in Sydney. The adverts on radio and twitter had advised us to get to the ground early as they were expecting public transport to be busy, so we set out about 16.00. They were right as the train was absolutely rammed to the rafters with fans with some people being left on the platform waiting for the next one (which was only 10 minutes later so don’t feel bad for them).
On arrival we were led to the supporters’ village. This was unlike anything I’d ever seen before with two massive areas set up outside the stadium to keep the masses entertained. They still couldn’t serve people fast enough at the bar (a common problem in Australia) but I suppose you can’t have everything. The atmosphere was buzzing and the entertainment was constantly changing; one minute there was a group of pipers belting out some traditional tunes, the next there was a band up on the stage playing more contemporary songs.
In the ground we found that their definition of gold and platinum tickets had grown even more liberal as there didn’t appear to be any Lions fans down the side of the pitch, regardless of how much they’d paid. But we had a decent enough view so no further sneaking was required (though I don’t think it would have been possible anyway).
The mood in the stadium ebbed and flowed as first we took a hold of the game but then let the Wallabies back in it. But throughout the Lions were certainly the most vocal supporters even if we did only have one chant. Obviously you know what happens next and the away supporters each went through their own moment of elation. For me I think it was Sexton’s try as I very nearly jumped out of the stadium, even though there was still plenty of time left on the clock at that stage. Everyone came to the same conclusion soon enough though which resulted in a mass exodus of Australians to rounds of “cheerio!” The Lions fans weren’t going anywhere though and the stadium was still 3/4 full well after the final whistle.
The celebrations continued long into the night. First we headed back to the supporters’ village where everyone was in high spirits, then got the last train back into the city for more revelry. A great time was had by all.
Overall it was a fantastic thing to be a part of and I’m certainly glad I was there. Would I return to Australia? Certainly, though I’m gonna have to do something about the travelling. Will I go on the next Lions tour? Not sure yet, though I certainly recommend it for everyone else. For now I’m happy with the memories.