Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mnemonic Miscellanea

Yeah yeah, great game last night. Really tremendous. For good raps of the game itself, see The Football Tragic, Football in the Capital and The Round Ball Analyst. (Later edit: also A Seat at the A-League.) Here's some bits and pieces.

First getting to the game. For the first time I drove, and somehow got a park right next to the Paddo Pub, a mere block from the stadium. We were over an hour early but there was already thousands of people milling about (both the Paddo and the Caxton were packed with Orange), and we felt damn lucky to get the park.

Jacob and I were meeting a friend, Donald, at the Wally Lewis statue at 7pm, half hour before the game. (The game had already been rescheduled from 7 to 7.30 in order to get the expectedly large crowds into their seats.) So we had some food and wandered to the stadium, which took ages because of the crowd.

Almost there and a Sydney contingent of about 20 were marching directly behind us singing, "Oh, oooohh oohh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh.. SYDNEY!" at the top of their voices. They sounded great - a bit too great for me so immediately after they got to the second, "SYDNEY!" I rejoined, "CAN'T PLAY!" at the top of my own not-soft voice. I didn't even look around to see their response. Didn't dare. But they shut up. The little bit of truth in what I shouted comes back in a reminiscence of a shouting Sydney crew after a QRvSFC game last season, "WE'RE SHIT BUT WE BEAT YOU!" It was great humour at the time and I remember Jacob and I laughing respectfully at their militant honesty. But last night they were shit and they didn't beat us.

Ok, we met Donald. It was obviously going to be a huge crowd and I'm glad I bought my tickets on the net, which I've never done before for an A-League game.

Later Donald said he'd seen the ominous clouds in the sky, but I knew nothing. Seemed like great weather for 35,000 people to be milling about in.

The tickets were for the second level - Section 526 - but accidentally we ended up on the top level (eventually in 722). On the way up the stairwell, caged from the open air outside the stadium, we noticed it was raining (the view's great anyway btw). When we got to the top (we didn't dawdle or stop for drinks from the time we entered) we looked out into the stadium into an impenetrable curtain of sheeting water. Jacob and I spontaneously sprinted to the gate - one of those adrenalin-from-nowhere moments. The boys were still training, but there was already a glisten of water across the whole pitch. There were thousands running from the stands to the back areas. A long ball would land on the pitch and stop dead.

It was an extraordinarily timed (potential) disaster. First, if the game had have kicked off at 7pm as originally scheduled it would have had to be stopped, with very little warning, and there would have been a horrible stampede of 35,000 people. As it was the 35,000 people had well-and truly mobilised - they were for the most part in the stadium or directly outside it (there were many waterlogged people in the stands by kickoff), when the torrent hit. As it was there was a brilliant scene of an almost empty stadium (for the front three quarters) with a ring of packed people. Cancellation? Impossible. But if that rain had continued it would have been simply impossible to play. Extraordinary theatre.

The icing on our spectacle from above (where we were dry incidentally, apart from light spray from the lashing winds, and I'm sure we weren't the only ones to permanently migrate to the very back) was the home and away hardcore crews at each end. Many of them stuck it out, leaving a blue and an orange front section full at respective ends, dervishly dancing and chanting in this outrageous torrent of water (it was too heavy to be called 'rain'), knowing, so I think, that to break and run was to allow the other side's fans to win. The players had gone off, the world had evacuated the cyclonic zone, except for these fans. In ones and twos members of each crew fled, having had enough, but as groups they held out until the end of the inclement. If anything, my report is that the Sydney fans won the contest. At the end their group was bigger, until the stands were reoccupied of course.

The next piece of Miscellanea is brought to you by the letter M: Matty McKay, Massimo Murdocca, Moore, Miniecon, McLaren, McLoughan, McMaster, Michael, Mitch and Marcinho. If we still had Milicic we could put out a fit, fairly coherent M11 to maul Melbourne and mince the Mariners. I've left out injured Matthew Ham.

Finally, with no bearing on last night at all because Reddy had sweet F to do, I think it is time to tribute Roar coach Fernando vas Alves. We've heard about how great Frank Farina is and we hear about how great many of the players are. But when we hear about how good Reddy is, and he has improved enormously since I've been watching him, and now how good McMaster is when he had to step up, surely it's time to mention the Goalkeeper Coach.

For example, we heard of how last season McMaster as number two was snubbed for import Tando Velaphi, as if this, and the subsequent faith in McMaster this season, was all Frank. Surely Alves would have had a big part in these decisions, as he is the one constantly working with McMaster. But more broadly, this Alves bloke can obviously spot and develop young goalkeepers. I've never heard about the international market for goalkeeper coaches, but I reckon Alves could get ambitious if he wanted.

Have a good weekend. And good luck to the Mariners. I haven't got any really strong feelings about who I want to win, and neither is this post especially mnemonic, but I'm moving with the letter M.


Blogger john said...

Top stuff Hamish

February 09, 2008 2:01 pm  
Blogger Martek said...

sounds like fun. Hopefully they'll be all tuckered out when my Dynamo see Sydney in Hawaii in 12 days!

February 09, 2008 2:25 pm  
Blogger Eamonn said...

loved it Hamish..especially the M and M's

February 09, 2008 4:54 pm  
Blogger Hamish said...

Thanks for the complements guys - for a bit of indulgent tripe really, a random outburst of joy - but what are blogs for after all?

Martek, thanks for stopping by. It was good to read an outsider's perspective of events in Australian soccer, an outsider with a direct interest in terms of your own team.

When it comes to the Pan Pacific Championships in particular, I'll be keeping an eye on your blog, and maybe I should do some surfing for where Dynamo is at with form.

The idea of banter between international bloggers when their teams play one another tickles my sense of the fun of all this. If I was you I'd watch Mike's blog at the time in particular. He's a Sydney fan and a very good analyst and I'm guessing he'll be watching the Pan Pacific games fairly closely.

February 10, 2008 10:40 am  
Blogger john said...

Hamish Fernando vas Alves also plays a key role as interpretor for Reinaldo and Marcinho.

I was wondering about that Pan Pacific stuff and the Asian quals. I am a bit confused. As I have heard that the A-League will send 3 teams next year, and Adelaide had appealed that they should be given a shot at being the 3rd team (I find them a bit ruthless).

If the Premier's get Asian entry 2009. 4th (Sydney) get Pan Pacific. Does the runner up get Asian entry and 3rd get nothing?

Shows the cost of not making 1st or 2nd - to get 2 chances at the final.

February 10, 2008 12:32 pm  
Blogger Martek said...

Hamish, right now Dynamo is nowhere with form as their training camp just opened Feb. 1! Seven of the players have been working out for the US and Canadian national teams, but seeing as how Hawaii will be their first real competition, I'm not expecting much. One of Dynamo's stars, though, is Brian Ching, who is Hawaiian and will be heavily motivated by that, I am sure.

International exchanges are what blogging is all about, now isn't it? I'll check out Mike's blog as well, that is if he's sufficiently recovered from the loss to the Roar.

February 12, 2008 1:41 am  

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