Each year on the night before Mother’s Day, the MCG hosts the Pink Lady Match. The aim is to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. The Melbourne Football Club hosts this event that over the years has raised millions of dollars. This year my team, the Sydney Swans, played Melbourne. It’s the first time we have played in this game so my first opportunity to experience the night. I’ve only watched it on tv before.
As I walked towards the MCG from the train station I noticed the exterior of the ground was lit up pink. It looked really good lit up in the dark. Not knowing what to expect, I got to my seat and sat down to watch the players warm up before the game. Once the players left the ground I realised the light towers had been switched off. Soon after the lighting within the ground was also switched off, plunging the ground and stands into darkness.
On the way in we were given free torches that shone pink light. Once the ground lights were switched off we were all asked to point our torches on to the ground. It created the effect you see below. During this part everyone stood for one minutes silence as a mark of respect for all those that have died from, or receiving treatment for, breast cancer.
In either the late 1990’s or early 2000’s I went to Sydney for a conference with some friends. We stayed in Darling Harbour in a magnificent 4 bedroom apartment with a huge balcony and a city view. The conference ended on Saturday night and Sunday was the day to travel home.
I was lucky because the Sydney Swans were playing a home game and it was going to be the first time I could watch my team play at our home ground rather than Melbourne. My membership gave me free entry to the SCG so I left my friends who were going to do some sightseeing and made my way to the ground. My only annoyance was having to carry my large overnight bag around. It was quite big and heavy and therefore difficult to carry.
When I arrived at the ground I realised I had no idea where I could sit. In those days they still had the hill (a grassy area without seating) but I thought I’d be able to sit in a seat. I walked down an aisle and sat in a seat only to be told a few minutes later they were reserved seats. There were no customer service people around for me to ask for help so I just kept moving from seat to seat, hoping the people who had reserved the seat wouldn’t turn up. I was beginning to feel very out of place and just a little lonely.
After being moved on once again, a couple who were sitting nearby offered me the spare seat beside them. Their son normally went to the games with them but couldn’t that day. I was so grateful to these total strangers. Not only did they offer me the seat but they also chatted throughout the game, making me feel so much better.
I will never forget their kindness. I can still recall most of the details very clearly and often tell the story.
Once we got on the shuttle bus to the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) we were able to relax somewhat. Not knowing the terrain between the CBD and the SCG we had originally planned to walk to the ground. When we were on the bus we were extremely glad we didn’t have time because the terrain was very steep and would have taken longer than planned. We were still worried we wouldn’t get to the ground in time to see the Grand Final flag being handed over and raised. All I wanted was to get in the ground. Once inside I knew I would be able to see what I wanted no matter what my vantage point. As luck had it we were able to get in, walk around to the opposite side of the ground and sit down about one minute before the the ceremony started.
After the ceremony the Cup and Flag were paraded around the ground. There were different groups of people who carried it around the ground, representing supporters and other groups. From our seats on level 2 we were able to get some great photos.
Once the game started the Gold Coast made us work for the win. The team kept Gary Ablett quiet which is the key to containing the Gold Coast. The atmosphere in the crowd was so quiet though. When the Gold Coast got a goal it was deathly quiet but when we scored it wasn’t a lot better. I’m used to really noisy crowds in Melbourne.
After the game I went outside the ground to the merchandise van and bought some more merchandise then we queued up to get the shuttle bus back to Central Station. While waiting for the bus I bumped into a friend from work who had also flown up for the day.
We stil had some time to fill in before heading back to the airport so we decided to look for somewhere to have an early dinner. We found an Irish pub called Maloney’s and had a nice meal. After that we caught the train back to the airport and flew home.
It had been a fantastic 30 hours by the time I got home but boy was I tired. I’d been able to see two of my favourite sporting teams win in different footy codes. I will definitely consider flying up to Sydney for the day in future because it’s so easy to do. Not the cheapest day out but definitely fun.
After a smooth, uneventful flight to Sydney we arrived in between showers and decided to catch the train into the CBD. It was a little confusing working out which ticket we should buy but the lovely lady at the ticket counter soon sorted us out. Instead of getting off at Central Station we decided to go to Circular Quay. We were going to walk there anyway so it was better to go straight there by train in around 10 mins. By this time the weather was really closing in. This was not picture postcard Sydney unfortunately. It was so dull and grey. Apparently Melbourne was having a beautiful day. We were still able to walk around the harbour on the edge of the botanic gardens to our destination; Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. It had been years since either of us had been there.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a lovely spot to sit and watch the river traffic go by. The ‘chair’ is cut into sandstone rocks on the edge of the harbour. Around 200 years ago, the governor of New South Wales’ wife used to sit on these very rocks. The Macquarie era is my favourite in Australian history. After looking around the area we decided to walk to Central Station which was a long walk. We didn’t realise how long but didn’t mind it. Once we got through the Botanic Gardens on to Macquarie St it was just a matter of heading towards, then around, Hyde Park to the station. We began to get worried we wouldn’t make it to the station to catch the shuttle bus to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). We were walking as fast as we could and as we cut across the park in Eddy Avenue we saw a few hundred footy supporters dressed in Swans gear. Phew we’d made it.
Months ago, when the AFL fixture was released, I was forced to make a difficult decision. My beloved Swans were schedule to play St Kilda in a second round NAB Cup match at the same time as Melbourne Victory were to be playing at AAMI Park. Even then (in October) I knew that I would end up going to the footy because I would have seen all Melbourne Victory home games by this time. I was really annoyed that both games were scheduled at the same time. It would have been great if the soccer had been on a different day or even earlier in the day so I could have hopped on the train to Etihad Stadium.
It was a beautiful, warm day, so I went into the city early so I could go to Myer then walked around the city, finally ending up at Etihad Stadium on the city’s western side.
The Swans came out firing in the first quarter and continued on until the Saints turned the tables and ran away to win by 23 points. It was a good chance to watch some of the players for my fantasy footy sides first hand. Most of all it was great to be able to say that footy is back!!!
Today is Grand Final Day, one of the most (dare I say THE MOST) important days on the Aussie sporting calendar. Many of you will disagree but that’s fine. I’m a footy fanatic and Sydney Swans supporter.
My team played Hawthorn and won. Yippee. It was a very close game with the lead see-sawing a few times but the Swans held on. I’m over the moon and off to celebrate so no other posts today.