My trip to Sydney last weekend to watch the mighty Melbourne Storm win the NRL premiership rates as one of my all-time favourite moments as a sporting spectator. And believe me, I’ve spectated plenty of sport in my time.
Here, in no particular order, are my greatest 5 moments:
(Criteria = events must have been seen live in person)
#1 – 2001 Bledisloe Cup – Australia v New Zealand at Dunedin
‘You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out…’
What a trip. What a match. What memories.
My two brothers and three of my best buddies made the trip over to NZ for the 2001 Bledisloe Cup. We were joined on our pilgrimage by our unfortunate Kiwi mates ‘Aussie’ Mal and Vic. The Aussies triumphed 23-15 and paraded the silverware in front of us after the match.
Our trip took in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown and featured celebrities Jeff Thompson, David Boon, Mark Ella and Richard Hadlee’s niece.
If I had to pick one highlight, it would be Vic coming a cropper on the luge at Queenstown.
#2 – 1993 AFL Grand Final – Essendon v Carlton
Col, Barnes-man, Santa and I saw virtually every game of the 1993 season. The Bombers came from nowhere in 1992 to pinch a premiership with a team of talented kids in 1993.
We met at Col’s for an early morning BBQ, knocked back a few 10am beers to help settle the nerves, then headed into the ‘G for the match and a few more nerve-settling ales.
Longy was brilliant, so was Wanganeen. Pre-match singer of the national anthem, Maroochy Bamba, was not so great, but memorable nonetheless. The Bombers skipped away to an early 7 goal lead and managed to keep more or less that margin for the whole game. We had a few nervous beers as the game ebbed and flowed.
Highlights of the day: sledging a 10 year old Carlton supporter with blue hair on the train, and watching Silvagni claim ‘I touched it!’. For some reason it was a very early night for your correspondent…
#3 – 2003 Rugby World Cup – Semi Final and Final
Oh, the agony and the ecstasy of the 2003 World Cup.
First, the Wallabies beat the highly fancied All Blacks in the semi final thanks to a brilliant Mortlock intercept and length of the field try (and a not so brilliant Carlos Spencer cut-out pass). Wakes and I sat on opposite sides of the ground. We had promised not to sledge about the result during the game. Texting doesn’t count as sledging, does it?
Highlight: Gregan’s “Four more years boys. Four … more … years”
Then the agony. A packed Telstra Stadium in front of a heaving crowd. The English supporters were fantastic, before, during and after the game and created a fantastic atmosphere. The game itself was one of the all time classics, going down to extra time after the brave Wallabies refused to give in and kept clawing themselves back into the game.
Then, Wilkinson calmly stepped up and slotted the winning goal. Pandemonium in the crowd for the Poms and desolation for us Aussies.
Still, I’m sure everyone who was lucky enough to be there that night will think of the game as one of the great all-time experiences.
#4 – 22 July, 2002 – Chicago Cubs vs Philadelphia Phillies
The cubbies won an otherwise forgettable game 7-6.
The game is memorable not only for my first and only visit to the fabulous Wrigley Field, but more importantly for my feat in catching a foul ball, one grab, with my bare hands. I had been telling the guys who took me that I had a history of crowd catches, (ask Mark Greatbatch and Shane Woewodin) but it seemed unlikely a ball would come my way, sitting as we were some 70 yards from the batter on the foul ball side of first base.
Suddenly the batter got a piece of the action. The crowd roared, the ball soared, went foul, and would you believe it, landed smack bang in the middle of my hands. I was an instant celebrity, however this being the land of instant celebrities, I was soon forgotten by the crowd. Still, I got to keep the ball, which I have to this day.
#5 – 2007 Melbourne Storm NRL Grand Final and after party
The Melbourne Storm were the top team during the regular season in 2006 and 2007.
They dropped the Grand Final in 2006 but there was no way the boys were going to let it slip through their fingers in 2007.
Although outnumbered by the home town Manly fans, the Storm supporters turned out in force, and were rewarded with 80 minutes of uncompromising, passionate, brilliant rugby league. Coach Craig Bellamy’s philosophy is for each player to play his role to the best of his ability, and this is certainly what they delivered.
The celebrations after the game were memorable, the players taking an eternity to complete their lap of honour.
Hundreds of supporters crammed into the Novotel after-party – and party they did, especially when the players arrived with the premiership trophy later in the night.
#6 – Honourable mentions
I couldn’t work out my greatest cricket memory:
- Lillee knocking over Viv Richards on the last ball of the day
- Lillee and Thommo in full flight vs the old enemy 1974-75
- Steve Waugh’s farewell Melbourne test
- Steve Waugh double ton in Wellington
- Surely something with Warney in it?
- Garry Sobers 254 vs Australia
- Centenary Test?
Or what about Makybe Diva’s third Melbourne Cup?
Or watching England play soccer at Wembley Stadium?
And countless Bomber memories…
Over to you guys, let me have your lists and share your favourite memories with the world.