I’m a bit of a soccer fan.
In February my Dad and I went to Melbourne to watch the Socceroos (Australian football team) play Saudi Arabia. The game was officially a World Cup Qualifier; however it didn’t matter if Australia won or lost, because they had already made it through to the next round. Saudi Arabia had to win to make it through. If they lost, their chances of going to the World Cup in 2014 were dead.
First of all, I have to say what a beautiful city Melbourne is. Its unique and diverse architecture is contrasted by the antiquity of the old trams and the dark olden buildings. It gives from first appearance a real modern cultural feel. Just east of the city, in East Melbourne (funny that), we unpacked our bags on a wet and cold day in a contemporary hotel. The next day gave us dryer weather but still forced us to keep our jumpers on.
The excitement and anticipation of that night was almost drowned out by the mornings thrilling tour of Melbourne. We caught a tram around the edge of the CBD, witnessing nurse’s strikes as we went, then rode an elevator 88 levels up to the Eureka Skydeck. From here you can see basically all of Melbourne; what an amazing experience from the tallest viewing platform in the southern hemisphere. The elevator up was quite an experience. It went 88 stories up in 30 seconds. I’m not sure how fast that is, but my ears felt the pressure for several hours after.
All this was a great way to spend the morning, but nothing could prepare us for the atmosphere of that night. The game started at 8:30 pm and so we got there at 7:30 in plenty of time to enjoy our one kilometre stroll. We walked past the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) where hundreds of cars were being parked for the night (on the fields surrounding), and finally saw AAMI Park, Australia’s newest sports stadium. Holding 30 000 people (which it would come close to filling) AAMI Park gives an amazing modern atmosphere for Australian sport.
The game started and the Socceroos were playing well, but by half time we were down 2-1. My dad and I had come to Melbourne simply to watch a good game of football. We said it wouldn’t be a bad experience if Australia lost; we just wanted to see top class soccer live. Well that’s easier said than done. At half time, we were absorbed in the Australian Spirit. Roughly twenty five thousand Australians were chanting, screaming and supporting their national team and we could not help but join in. When the Socceroos scored their first goal, the stadium erupted. We did not need to win, but when you’re watching your team live, you want them to win, and so the excitement of 25 000 other fans gets you fairly excited.
Australia went on to score 3 more goals, which led to their 4-2 win over the Saud’s. The game was great, but the Australian Spirit is what made it one of the best experiences for me so far. We were down 2-1 and with our underdog spirit fought back in a matter of minutes to win. On top of this, the noise inside of the stadium when these goals were scored was tremendous. Certainly something I was proud to be a part of.