Five weeks after arriving in Australia, I finally got around to seeing my first A-League game whilst spending a week in Brisbane. The previous day Jen and I had taken a river cruise from the city centre to a koala sanctuary and had passed the Suncorp Stadium along the way. I didn’t get a photo of it but I did get one of a snake that appeared to be up to no good on the riverbank. I’ve a feeling that snakes are invariably up to no good.
Inside the sanctuary we posed with koalas and hand-fed kangaroos. There wasn’t the same sense of danger as there had been when we’d fed bananas by hand to wild warthogs in South Africa, but I noticed afterwards some skin-breaking scratches from one kangaroo that insisted on gripping my arm as I fed him.
I got to ruffle the hair of a couple of dingoes too. They like that sort of thing, as do I.
On the morning of the game we headed out of town to Lamington National Park and did some hiking. I’d been hoping for plenty of wildlife along the way, but after seeing a wallaby or two in the undergrowth early on, there wasn’t much else to see during the ten miles or so that we covered.
I did encounter a couple of leeches, which turns out to be one of the hazards of walking through a forest with shorts and sandals on. The advice seems to be that you should just let them feed and then when they are full they will clear off. I’m not that patient or generous though and I picked them off as soon as I noticed them, leaving a dribble of blood each time. They pulled away easily enough, unlike a tick that lodged itself in my shoulder a couple of years ago. I had to rely on Jen and her tweezers on that occasion.
We were back in Brisbane in plenty of time for the game and I walked the half hour or so from our hotel to the stadium. It seemed as if most of the home support was gathered in the Lord Alfred pub near the ground and I could hear them from a distance away.
Suncorp Stadium, or Lang Park as it was formerly known, dates back around a hundred years. There’s not much that’s original though after a mid-eighties redevelopment. I had a thirty-five dollar ticket for along one side of the pitch in the East Stand that I’d bought in advance, but it would have been no trouble to pick one up on the day with only a small queue at the ticket office.
I could have bought a cheaper ticket if I’d wanted, as once inside I realised that I could have sat in whatever area of the ground that I’d fancied. The food was pretty good and we were trusted to collect it from the serving areas and fridges and pay for it at tills. I can’t see that ever happening in England, which, I suppose, is quite sad.
Roar had around three hundred or so fans to my right, who I suspect were the ones making all the noise in the Lord Alfred earlier. They kept up the support all of the way through the game, with a couple of fellas at the front leading things through megaphones.
Elsewhere in the stadium there were another ten thousand fans with around forty of them supporting Adelaide. Everything seems such a distance in Australia that I doubt that there will be many travelling fans anywhere. The lack of away support amazed me when I lived in Spain, but here I can understand it.
There were plenty of chances in the first half, but the Roar’s Brandon Borello was the only fella to find the net.
There was still just the one goal in it was we entered the final ten minutes. By that time I’d moved to the south-west corner for a different vantage point and I was perfectly placed to see Jamie Maclaren cut inside and curl one into the top corner.
The goal sparked a bit of aggro between the fans, who didn’t seem to have anything segregating them and the police were happy to let it peter out before intervening and then making a couple of token ejections. Brisbane went on to add an injury time third.
My overall impression was that the standard wasn’t too high. But that’s ok, I’ve watched much worse in recent years in the lower reaches of the Korean leagues and in Africa. Come to think of it, I might have watched worse under Strachan at the Boro. It certainly felt like it at times.
On the plus side, the weather was warm and the beer was cold. That’s good enough for me.