WANYE AT THE ANZAC GAME

Leadpic

Every year the Oilers fail to make the post season and every
year we are sent out screaming into the world on a backpacking trip, prevented
from scratching out our eyes, being caught bawling in front of a closed Rexall
Place or worse.

This year we are in Australia, the land of Bundy Rums, babes
that disappointingly don’t go crazy with desire at the sound of a Canadian
accent and the AFL.

Scorebard

Wanye Manor roommate Sam Brown recently retired from a top
drawer career with the Morningside Panthers – an AFL-Q team in Brisbane. Over
the past year he has explained the awesomeness and many nuances of the AFL game in detail and it was agreed that going to the ANZAC game – the Remembrance
Day of Australia and New Zealand – would be the Aussie equivalent of going to the
Superbowl.

And so we found ourselves the cheapest airfare that Hotwire
cared to offer and boarded a plane for Australia to attend the match between
the Essendon Bombers (the good guys) and the Collingwood Magpies (the evil
guys) with @17samb, @thesquir3, @sgreener82, @mrsyakupov and 91,131 of our closest mates.

Guernseys

Like any good bandwagon jumping fans we knew walking into
the gigantic arena – the Melbourne Cricket Grounds or the MCG – that we needed a hat, a
foam finger, a Bombers branded airhorn and whatever else they would sell us.

Down here everything is exactly the same as home but with
slight differences. Take the spelling of jerseys for example. Pretty straight
forward right? The same all around the English speaking world one would think –
correct? Incorrect. 

Guernseys are for sale down here though if you are
interested.

Troops

The ANZAC game is a classy affair as it honours the
sacrifices of the troops throughout the history of Australia and New Zealand.
These guys do it right, with soldiers of the past 75 years attending the game
and being treated to rousing applause throughout the game with video features
on the scoreboard.

We couldn’t help but get goose bumps as we stood stock still among 91,000
people for a moment of silence prior to the start of the game. It was something to see.

AND NOW TO THE GAME

BeerArray

For your ol’ pal Wanye the most important thing about any
place, event or time in human history is the beer. Specifically how is the
beer? Is said beer cheap? How fast can you get a beer? Well brother if there is
one thing the MCG gets and gets good it’s the beer. Or as they call it down here “the
Lager mate.”

Have you ever in your life seen a 4 tap beer array?! Sweet
Nuge’s beard it’s about time scientists got around to an innovation like this. Unsurprisingly
this thing being expertly worked by a concession staffer gets you a beer 4x as
fast. 

And where do you put your four beers? How about in a four beer tray you
can carry in one hand. Man if they had these in Edmonton they would need a line
of ambulances waiting on standby outside for blocks.

beertray

The AFL is interesting in that one city can have multiple teams, all the teams are owned by the league and they all share stadiums. The result is that fans are mixed together like peas and carrots – Melbourne has
94% of the leagues teams all in one city. So us Bombers fans were mixed in with
the Magpie cretins (who are super nice by the by) and this led to occasional fights fueled by the beer arrays.

Essendon got out to a gigantic lead in the first quarter up
40 points which in AFL terms means “you are getting pumped son.” But
Collingwood climbed back in the second quarter with the wind at their backs and
it went into half time almost tied. Then the damned Magpies turned on the jets
in the 3rd quarter and laid a beating on the beloved Bombers 83-60.

SOME EMOTIONAL MUSINGS

Fans

Following sports teams is a lot like falling in love. Many people never allow themselves to fall head over heels, they end up with a safe
play and a safe relationship. Those that do fall hard for their favourite teams
place themselves in extreme risk of heartache year after year but also
experience the dizzying highs when the team performs.  

Bandwagon jumpers never make a full emotional commitment to
a team. They are there for the good times and don’t feel the crushing heart
ache if say their team fails to make the playoffs for the seventh straight
year.

At the same time it is impossible to be in love with two
teams at the same time. When someone says “I am a big fan of the Oilers and the Bruins” or whatever these are the same type of people who get busted one day
having a second family two provinces over. You can only be in true love once.

We watched the Essendon fans cheer and rage and pull their
hair out as the damned ‘pies stormed back from a first quarter deficit to win
the game. They cursed the opposition, blamed the referees and every thing else
under the sun. We could appreciate what was going on much like we can
appreciate a hot babe walking down the street in the Melbourne sun.

ATM

Yes, the game is a ripping good time. Yes, she has legs for
days and a face that launched a thousand ships. I can buy the hat (check) the
“Guernsey” (strange but check) and stand at attention for a moment of silence
honouring the ANZAC troops that have sacrificed their lives for this wonderful
part of the world.

But it’s not love.

Even at this game in the middle of paradise I was thinking
of my beloved stupid Oilers a half a world away. Even though it had nothing to do with anything I found myself wishing the roaring crowds of the MCG were instead at
Rexall Place cheering on a team of hard nosed legends smashing away on some
overmatched playoff foe. Instead we are perennially last, riddled with
incompetency and breaking hearts year after year.

But dammit that’s the team I fell for so long ago and they
will own my heart for all eternity.

Damn you to hell Edmonton Oilers. I will ride with you till
the casket drops. If you could kindly get your shit together so we aren’t in
last place every single year that would be just fantastic.

Tonight I go to see the Sydney Swans and my man crush Buddy Franklin who was recently in crap for inexplicably smashing up 4 cars in the middle of the night in his model girlfriend’s Jeep. Article to follow.

  • SuntanOil

    To say that AFL is the “Superbowl” of Australia is just ridiculous. There are 4 codes of football in Oz (soccer, AFL, NRL, Union) and the latter three have relatively similar overall followings in different parts of the country. Your point is immediately underminded when you admit that 94% of the league’s teams are in one city, lol.

    Big fan of the blog overall boys but you’ve sold a bill of goods here … What about State of Origin for example? (an Rugby League event that pits players from NSW against Queensland)

    In all honesty, cricket is the uniting sport over here (I mean in the way hockey is back home … though not as crazy) and all of your observations about the stadium would still apply. But it isn’t a collision sport so I guess I see why you opted for a football code. If you want to see REAL CRAZY collision sport followings? Pop over to NZ and watch some union … that may be one of the only places in the world where a population cares about any sport the way we care about hockey.

  • MacTastic

    From Wanye:

    Bandwagon jumpers never make a full emotional commitment to
    a team. They are there for the good times and don’t feel the crushing heart
    ache if say their team fails to make the playoffs for the seventh straight
    year.

    Uh, Wanye, have I lost count or have you? Seven years out of the playoffs or eight? Or are you perhaps referring to some other bottom-feeding team in some other sporting league, of which you are also a heartfelt supporter, that has finished outside of the playoffs for seven seasons? If so, I pity your sadness and admire your strength.

  • AussieOil

    P.S. Wayne, you’re holding the beer thing wrong!

    Hand position is correct but thumb on top in between the beers and fingers underneath in the groove made by that raised bit.

  • AussieOil

    P.S. Wayne, you’re holding the beer thing wrong!

    Hand position is correct but thumb on top in between the beers and fingers underneath in the groove made by that raised bit.

  • AussieOil

    Looks like a lot of Aussie Oiler fans on here! I myself live minutes away from the MCG, and will now have to find where the ON Poster is located on the Yarra!

    And Wayne, the accent works trust me! Try the country towns, the big city girls are much tougher to crack!!

  • SuntanOil

    Well, I learned something today. Many years back I met an Aussie girl traveling through this part of the world. She had been married to an Aussie rules player at one time, a Collingwood Magpie to be exact, and even though the marriage didn’t work, she was as big a fan of that team as any fan of any team I have ever met. She introduced me to the weird world of Aussie Rules Football, and I have been a fan ever since, usually cheering on the Crows since that is what I had learned. However, not being able to travel there yet, I have only been able to form my opinions on the game based on the tiny amount of coverage we get here in Canada – the odd highlight package and the Grand Finals if one stumbles upon them. At least three quarters of the time this involved the Callingwood Crew, and yet I never did the math enough to realize that Magpies were the New York Yankees of the AFL!

    As an Oiler fan I could NEVER cheer for a front runner like the Yankees, not while my hometown team wallows in the depths of inadequacy. So now I guess I will have to find another team to follow. Thanks Wanye, and go … … Carlton??

    • SydScout

      Mate the team you need to support is the (Sydney) Swans.

      Red and white, Canadian colours – yes we also spell colour correctly.

      Periods of perennial, hoboesque bottom dwelling – the 90’s were truly awful.

      Blue collar work ethic. So much so that the Swans have a ‘no dickhead’ policy. True story.

      And most importantly, my hero Mike Pyke. A deadset legend. Sent a video to the Swans to get a try out after playing rugby for Canada. The Swans took a chance on him, took years of hard work, completely retraining his skillset and changing his body shape to adapt. Won the whole damn thing with the Swans a couple of years back and was in my mind, the best player on the field that Grand Final.

      Imagine an Aussie trying that in hockey… I can dream but it ain’t happening.

      Great sport AFL, but we dingoes down here haven’t got hockey. Best game on the planet, by a mile.

  • I’m a die hard oiler fan from Edmonton, and I’ve been living in Perth Australia for the last 3 years. I read every article on the nation but have never commented. I felt obligated to seems how I’m sitting down watching a footy (AFL) game and reading oilersnation. I cheer for one of my local AFL teams the Fremantle Dockers (the purple team). From what I understand they were the laughing stock of the league for the last decade. Due to years of high drafting they are now a high end team, and even made the grand finals lasts year. So have hope oilers fans, years of terrible play can sometimes be worth it.

  • andyg

    That’s the first thing foreigners should learn about the AFL, that Collingwood are evil. As the first thing I learnt about hockey in Canada was to say ‘Leafs suck’.

    And go Swans!!

  • beloch

    As the ozzies would say, strewth.

    The Oilers suck. The Flames suck (slightly less). It’s dark days for hockey fans in Alberta. The city of lottery picks and underdogtown will one day be the league’s death valley once again, but it’s hard to see the path to that gleaming future just now. The Oilers desperately need to sack everyone right down to the very last octane ice girl. The Flames need 2-3 years of patience from Brian Burke: the man too impatient for neck-ties and combs. At least we can all join hands, sing kumbaya, and rejoice in the karmic retribution currently being visited upon the Canucks for years of dirty diving, whining, and the occasional locker-room raiding shenanigan.