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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Anzac Day Clash

AUSTRALIA | Wednesday, 25 April 2018 | Views [335]

It's Anzac Day, and I'd attend another event that a connoisseur of Australia should have on their radar: the Anzac Day Clash. The Essendon Bombers and Collingwood Magpies of the Australian Football League (AFL) play every year on Anzac Day, and is the second most popular game of the season (the most popular is the Grand Final).

For the longest time, I figured every major city in Australia had their own football league but of the 18 AFL teams, 10 of them are based in the Melbourne area. To make things more confusing, nine teams play at only two different areas (the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and Etihad Stadium) even though they were founded in various Melbourne suburbs. Football ("footy") fans are a fervent bunch and can get quite rowdy especially after they've been on the piss.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG, or simply just the "G") is an icon of the city and I wanted my first footy match to be a big one at the "G" where 90,000 footy supporters descend upon the arena. Punching my ticket, and then getting a glass of wine, the atmosphere was magical. At exactly 3:08 PM, 90,000 people would rise in unison as the Anzac service began, and then the national anthems of both New Zealand and Australia were sung. Wearing my Anzac pins, my hand was over my heart as it truly belongs to Australia. Making sure to keep my Anzac Day tradition alive, I had a stack of homemade Anzac biscuits on hand to pass out to those around me. The bloke to my left took the train from Wodonga just to come to the game and is a Collingwood supporter, and the bloke to my right lives in Melbourne is an Essendon supporter. My footy ignorance was on display as I had to ask about scoring, etc. A made goal (through the centre posts) is worth six points and a score between the side posts or the ball rushed in is worth one point. Essendon won the Anzac Day Clash last year but today, Collingwood absolutely dominated from the opening kick.

As I mentioned earlier how footy fans can be a fervent group, an older bloke yelled at me for talking, threatening to "shove his cane up my ass" because I was talking with a security guard directly behind him, even though there were about three minutes left in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach. I was upset but it was brushed off with "he's had a few drinks." He was a Collingwood supporter, and Collingwood is like the New York Yankees of the AFL: the team you either love or hate with no middle ground.

The game was never close and the final score was Collington 14.17 (101), Essendon 7.10 (52). The first number is the number of made goals, the second is that of individual points, and the third is the total score. 

With all the time I've spent in Melbourne, I'm surprised this was my first footy match. It had to be a big one at the "G" for my first time. For Anzac Day with my tasty biscuits, I've now attended another quintessentially Australian event.


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