You may have noticed Tara and I, right behind the posts, camera left, about fifteen rows back amongst a large contingent of Wallaby supporters. We were the ones in white jumping up and down when England scored.
Luckily we weren’t the only ones who had ponced a couple of seats off of a less than confident Wallaby supporter; there were six of us isolated amongst about six hundred yellow jerseys. The guy next to me – an Englishman living in Sydney, hated every second of the game, he’d put up with 5 years of barracking from his work colleagues, neighbours, drinking friends etc. and simply couldn’t face the thought of having to go through it again for another 4 years. Poor guy – he was shaking so hard with the adrenalin, he almost spilled the brandy I had to practically force down his throat at half time. He was almost suicidal at full time.
The weather was terrible, cold, rain, wind, more rain followed by no rain, no wind then back to rain again. Most of the crowd had to buy plastic poncho’s, (including us) and some bright spark had managed to sell most of the yellow ones to the English supporters – so I suspect there were many more Brits there than appeared at first glance.
Renditions of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ faded out pretty quickly after kick-off, as the Aussies finally realised it was doing more to put their players off, than encourage them. Need to find something a bit more stirring guys! (‘I shagged Matilda’ was a favourite with the English contingent, after ‘Swing low’) The toilets were a scrum at half time, where the English chants of ‘boring boring England’ were a little too ironic for the Aussies to comprehend (we’d just scored a try – but no-one in yellow seemed to have noticed).
Lucky for us most of the points were scored right in front of us: all the penalties and Jason Robinson’s try. We also got an all too good view of Ben Kay’s ‘butterfingers’ on the line and Tequiri’s up-ending of Josh Lewsey. We also had a painfully vivid view of England’s lineout (side on) going tits-up more than once, and breaks from Matt Rogers and Lote Tequiri pounding far too quickly towards us. Heart-stopping stuff.
Needless to say we were euphoric when the final whistle blew – the guy beside me even managed a smile. We all sang a last rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ with the Aussies as the presentation ceremony was set up, but as before it sounded more like a funeral march as the music was played at a uncomfortably low tempo. Most Aussies stayed for the medals and trophy presentation, and many stayed for the lap of honour, and we got a few heartfelt handshakes from some (a strange national trait: graceful in defeat / graceless winners). Though it must be said, I was kicked by one guy later who was ‘rucking a few English’ on the way home.
After singing ‘Hard day’s night’ and ‘Wonderwall’ amongst others for the lap of honour, we joined in with renditions of ‘Hey Jonny Jonny, Jonny Jonny Jonny Wilkinson’ on the train, in the station and through central Sydney, which was in absolute chaos. It was impossible to get a celebratory beer, so we made do with a Hungry Jacks and made for home, ending an unforgettable day.
Jonny’s drop-goal always looked like a sure thing from where we were sitting – we only wish he had done it earlier.