The red and white army

What a Saturday night. I will never tire of the joy that comes with decking myself out in my red and white and joining my fellow fans as we converge upon the SCG. One of the great things about live sport is that the atmosphere extends beyond the ground and across the city.

As I climbed off the train at Central I had little need for the signs directing me to the shuttle buses that would take us to the ground. All I had to do was follow the sea of red and white streaming out of the station. There was a nice mix of first timers and seasoned professionals, with one woman’s membership gear making her the called upon expert when someone wasn’t quite sure which side of the street the buses left from.

Standing on the bus for the short trip to the ground didn’t worry me, as my excitement by that point was palpable and unlikely to be contained within a seat. As my comrades surrounded me I was given a lesson in the power of belonging. Brandishing my red and white scarf I had the pass to their club, our club.

Once we arrived at the ground the atmosphere kicked up a gear. St Kilda fans were few and far between and really had little to cheer about. It was an impressive crowd of nearly 36, 000 and despite the game never really being close, the crowd were really engaged in the game. Further testament to the great footy we are playing at the moment.

I was worried early on when we appeared to be rushing a little, making quick decisions when we had more time. Eventually though we found our rhythm and got the job done. Importantly we were able to answer almost every goal they kicked with one of our own shortly after. It’s the kind of play that really gets your opposition down and sends you a long way to victory.

I cannot help but marvel at the athleticism of these guys whenever I watch a game live. On the TV they look impressive, but they’re on TV and hardly seem real. When faced with them just metres from you, it becomes impossible to deny that they are real and they are seriously impressive. Witnessing brilliant marks close up and seeing Buddy’s ridiculous goal from close quarters was an experience I am unlikely to forget.

In choosing our seats last night, we really struck gold. Not for our view of the ground, but for our complimentary commentary, courtesy of two members of the red and white army behind us. They were classic, pointing out Buddy prefers to kick goals on the run, at every chance they got. “Oh it’s a set shot, he isn’t likely to get this one – stick him a few more metres out and on the run and he’d have no worries.”

My favourite comment though came towards the conclusion of the game. The wind had picked up and those sitting in the rows in front of us had headed home. The guys behind us were enjoying the cool wind as much as we were and we could all have been forgiven for heading off before the game was done. When one of our neighbours asked if they should stay to sing the song, his friend replied, “Of course, bloody oath we will.”

In a match celebrating pride, the Swans inspired just that. As the final siren sounded and we belted out the song, I couldn’t have been more proud to be a member of the red and white army. I’ll leave it to my comrades to charge the MCG next week. Look out Hawthorn – we’re coming.


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