We’re at a dampish MCG, out in the open alongside Tex Perkins as he performs an Anzac tribute song with voiceover provided by Ronald Dale Barassi who lost his father in World War Two. When the match begins, there’s over 89,000 of us within. Just under a 100 years ago at Great war’s end, from our less than five million nation, 416,809 men have enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.
So we could multiply todays crowd twice and a bit over to capture those directly affected in service. When you drive through our country towns the cenotaph records the impact therein on those left behind to live on in the aftermath. Mates, brothers, sisters, mums, dads, grandparents, townsfolk connected in various degrees of grief. Death. Misery. Pain never transcended for generations. Loss…. of potential, of presence, of love. How many MCG’s to hold that net trawled through bottomless seas of wretched memory?
The biggest sacrifice we 89,000 will make today is to stay dry in the now traditional Essendon V Collingwood clash. No longer their sole domain and with this Anzac Day falling on a Saturday, the fixture is today jammed with 5 games. Carlton and St Kilda again play in New Zealand to an official crowd figure of 12,000 compiled by a seeing eye dog in stark contrast to the endless rows of Kiwi indifference in the stands exhibited to Aussie punters during the replay. AFL touts proffering free tickets burn them at quarter time in a bid to stay warm while dreaming of home.
We recall former Anzac comrades as the sun sets on Gold Coast’s empire spanked into 66 point submission by the Great Western Sydney axis highlighting the consequence of contrasting recruitment strategies a the 2 clubs. We’ve had some history at this event so today I’m staying clear of the giggle juice opting again for a weekly meat injection courtesy of the under 10 bucka pie and chips combo brought to me humble masses from Gillan McLaughlin. Collingwood’s Jamie Elliot has his dry as a bone radar on early walking between the raindrops that fall 30 centimetres outside the boundary to curve a stupendous goal on the 50.
Essendon lead only briefly in the second quarter, during which Don veteran Dustin Fletcher marks on the centre side of the 50 metre arc. Anticipating the unleashed bomb he’s renown for, he submits to the crowds rising amplitude and sends it through from 65 metres to the waiting gratitude of the nation’s Audiologists bathing in the games crowd peak audio. The games a slog and the Pies gradually pull away to win by 20 points, adapting to the wet conditions that arrive in the 3rd quarter better than Essendon’s round the cape endless seek for an open player on half forward.
With the rain comes the need for protection. The poncho is essentially a human incubator. You encased within a PVC perimeter sealed from rain and (external sources of) wind. You see those with over active metabolisms generating their own ecosystem within spouting fog near their peaks, thunderstorms around their humid zones. Some of us even wear them when it’s dry, particularly when eating piping hot goods. Once unpacked they can rarely be folded in sync back into provided storage with the same intent as the manufacturers. They’re often sold by retired types in the carpark listening with ’60’s something transistors, in between the spruik and the thermos swig and woollen overcoat. Thankfully none of them dress as Elmo. If you’re lucky you can sometimes score one with an adorning club logo.
Later we get home in time to knock up the spag bol to be cathode side for much anticipated Hawks V Port clash. We were struggled there last year and then scrapped just into the Grand Final when Port powered back from death. Could be a long night enduring the Creed and the Wall of Sound. Tonight the only “celebration” that the Anzac day Adelaide Oval ceremony implies is that there’s no place for the INXS Farris boys being still in the goal square at the bounce conducting the crowd to “Never Tear Us Apart” like last weeks’s home game. Boy those lads are unfit.
The spag gets stuck incredulously in the throat as Port kick 7 goals in 12 minutes and the Hawks are done right there. Asleep at the wheel after failing to pull over for a post premiership power nap, they make an effort to get back within 13 at siren’s end after drifting out to 54 points in arrears at the start of the 3rd quarter. So we salvage something, some dignity in place to face the Roos, another trickey customer for us historically, in the poncho free (save for the messy eater) Etihad stadium.
Finally, once upon a time in the west, Sydney take their cue from the Hawks in their come from way way behind narrow just about steal it fixture against Fremantle underneath that mattress pump inflated dockers anchor.
Anzac Day is over here, but on the Cove some 100,000 plug into the dawn service, the only sour note the eternal flame of commercial exploitation of the day that several corporations are called out on and then retract in social media fired shame.
Today, we count our lucky stars, all 216,000 of them that shine on us eternally.
Anzac Image via http://www.webleedpurple.com/home_home.html