Melbourne’s AFL Anzac Day Game
The second biggest game of the year for the AFL calendar was upon us (second only to the Grand Final), and I am still pinching myself that I was at the MCG attending this famous game. It was my first time attending a football game in Melbourne, and what a match I had flown in for.
It is a day for all football fans – not just those supporting Collingwood or Essendon, however there is excitement and angst in the air that is fueled by these supporters.
I started the day waking up in the beautiful city that is Melbourne and had a leisurely breakfast during which I thought about how amazing the day was going to be. When I was ready to roll (and had an Essendon scarf wrapped around my neck) I hopped on a train, and in only 10 minutes I was disembarking at Jollimont Station where the marvelous Melbourne Cricket Ground looms. After I walked through the gates from Jolimont and headed towards the ‘G’ I was caught up in a flurry of activity. Thousands (literally) of fans in red and black or white and black swarmed every gate of the MCG, excited to get to their seats for the main event. It was organised chaos, as ushers directed patrons where to go based on their ticket.
After the long line into the MCG (which went quite quickly as again – the ushers know what they are doing – and don’t mess around scanning your ticket into the ground) my friends set off to find their seats. I followed along, dodging supporters and taking in all my surroundings – so many bars and eateries here! Once we were settled in our seats, I looked out onto the immaculately manicured green ground that is the MCG – what a stadium this is. Holding 100,000 people (which filled up quickly) it began to dawn on me – how where all these people going to be quite during the Anzac Day Minute Silence?
My thoughts on crowd control vanished as there was live entertainment performed by great Australian artists and the talented ‘Australian Army Band’. Once those festivities were over and I looked around (my goodness – when did this stadium become so full?) We all rose to our feet and applauded veterans of WWI, as they were driven around the MCG, sitting on chairs in the tray area of 4-wheel drive cars. During this parade the football players started warming up on the field and clapped for the veterans.
Once those brave people were honored, the football field was then set up for The Last Post and the traditional ANZAC solute. Football players lined up in their teams, and soldiers raised flags and stood in formation. The moment had come where the ground was at capacity, and all attendees where to be upstanding and silent. The saying ‘You could hear a pin drop’ although cliché was completely accurate; 100,000 people stood respectfully silent as The Last Post reverberated throughout the MCG. It was so eerie to be among so many people that were so silent – but also beautiful – as we were all paying our respects to those brave people that fought so hard for us. After The Last Post finished we remained standing for the New Zealand National Anthem and then the Australian National Anthem – both sung so powerfully! Towards the end of the Australian Anthem a massive roar of the crowd built and erupted and suddenly everyone was cheering for their team to win. The players began to jump to warm themselves up, and the siren to signal that the game would start in a minute was just a faint flare, barely heard over of the crowd of cheering thousands!
Once the players were in position, the cheering continued and the moment we had all been waiting for began – the siren sounded to signify the start of the annual Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon!
The game was similar to any other AFL football match in that the game was frustrating at times and thrilling at others (depending on if your team was winning) but the atmosphere that is the Anzac Day match really intensified the game!
Once the final siren sounded, I was breathing heavily from barracking and supporting the team so hard. When we all exited the ground there was again an array of colour and activity as thousands went on to celebrate or commiserate the final result. Outside and beyond the MCG; footballs were kicked in friendly re-enactments of the game, bars became flooded with supporters, and restaurants became packed – full of hungry patrons after such a high energy and adrenalin pinching day.
If you ever get a chance to attend a football match such as this in Melbourne – I suggest you take it!
I know the team at Emma Whiting Travel can orgainse this for you – as they did for me!
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