See how Crikey’s far-flung subscribers spent their last Saturday in September, and for all those who are still recovering from their big weekend, send your AFL Grand Final story into [email protected] crikey.com.au

Boston


The Boston Demons aussie football team watched the GF on a big screen in the pub owned by their sponsor. They play in Demons’ colours and are loosely affiliated with the club. The telecast was delayed and their mates in Oz were told on pain of death NOT to email the result in advance. Andy Stratford organised the event. Andy is ex-Ryde City Gunners soccer. He is married to a Bostonian.
The Boston Demons are about 50:50 Aussie ex-pats and local Bostonians. Their enthusiasm is boundless. They travel sometimes long distances to play. They made the GF last year only to be knocked over.

JB


Baghdad

My mate Dave is a long time Port follower. He remembers his Dad taking him to the home game every second Saturday for 15 years – way back when.

So when he found out the final was on Middle East Sky sports he was chuffed. Deep in the a corner room of what was once a carpark structure and now doubles as a camp, there is a room (the former use for which is probably best not speculated on). It now houses a large screen TV constantly tuned to Sports 1 or 2.

Preparation included working on Friday (the day off) so he could have the Saturday morning off and “reserving” the time and channel by writing it up on the white board on the wall of the Whine Bar (also lurking in the carpark). He even went to the PX to get some peanuts and stuff to nibble from 0800.

He is thrilled about the result. The only small problem is that the connection failed. You can imagine his other bother when he fired up the laptop and discovered that his hard drive had carked it and it took until 1130 to fix it and get a network connection. Good thing I had access.

Baghdad Bobby

San Diego

“The Australian Pub” in San Diego was chock full of Aussies and Americans watching the Power and Lions go head-to-head. They had six screens feeding the live images through Fox Sports. The Pub is the sponsor of the “San Diego Lions” – an American Australian Rules Team – so the crowd was fairly one-sided.

Those yanks who were watching Aussie Rules Football for the first time found the ‘firey’ first half very exciting and the melees and fights drew cheers of delight from the crowd. Can’t remember much of the last quarter as too many Coopers Pale Ales had been consumed. A great night was had by all.

Sarah and Steve
Philadelphia, USA (Adelaide)

Hong Kong

Up here in Hong Kong, the Australian Association and the Hong Kong Dragons AFL club (reigning Asian champions for the last two years by the way) always put on a huge function each year for the Grand Final and this year was no different.

Being a pretty small place, the Aussie community in Hong Kong get together regularly anyway, but the chance to open a private bar at 11.30am and start eating grouse Aussie tucker, cheap beer and wine is always too good refuse and around 400 turned up this year (last year was even better when there were 400 Collingwood supporters and the rest of us as well) and a good day was had by all. We had around 200 copies of the official record flown up and there was the usual raffles, giveaways etc that you would find at any good Australian expat day around the world.

Of course everyone had a few too many (the Dragons team are also still celebrating their win in the recent Asian Championships in Kuala Lumpur as well) but a good day was had by all and not a fist, a spew, a line of coke, a head butt or an angry bouncer was seen! A great Aussie day in a great Aussie atmosphere!

And I have noticed some comments from others about AFL coverage around the world. I reckon in Asia we just about get it better than any where else, maybe even better than the free to air stuff at home, thanks to ABC Asia Pacific. In the home and away rounds we get five games every weekend (Friday night, two Saturday games and two Sunday games) and we had every final shown live! The only ads we get are during the three breaks and we rarely get any of the crap that goes on before the game and during half time (thank Christ I don’t have to listen to Eddie before the game or at half time).

Needless to say a lot of bars in the region are on to this and are subscribers to the channel, packing themselves full of thirsty Aussies every weekend. Hope everyone else enjoyed the day as much as we did here. Didn’t really care for the result, but the Expat Footy Experience was the winner on the day.

Mark

Salt Lake City

As a strong supporter of the Brisbane Lions, I was excited about the Grand Final and my team going for Flag #4. Being in Salt Lake City, the grand final was being telecasted in the late evening here on Friday night. Originally I had planned a mini-party with a couple of American friends who where interested in this ‘fantastic game I could never stop talking about’. In the end I only managed to watch the game with one friend (but with plenty of beer… well the piss water they call beer in America anyway). The great thing was my American friend enjoyed the game entirely and got a hang of the rules pretty fast. I was dispointed in my Lions losing, but it wasn’t that bad considering we already have three Flags under our belt and at least we didn’t loose to Collingwood!

Robert Maher
Salt Lake City, Utah

Abu Dhabi

Fox Sports – Middle East actually broadcast the Grand Final live in Abu Dhabi and across the Arabian peninsula. Unfortunately, with Thursday – Friday being the weekend, Saturday here in the Islamic world is the equivalent of Monday in Christendom, and I had to leave for work just as the telecast was starting! I listened via web radio up to 3-quarter time though, before I had to switch off for a teleconference. However, my wife, who was watching at home, sent me frequent SMS updates. Fox are repeating it a few times, so I might catch it again later in the week. The world is getting a smaller place when we can watch the Australian Football Grand Final live and even listen to it on the net, though I could do without Rex Hunt’s live call at 9 in the morning. As a Kangaroos supporter, I was pleased to hear that Byron Pickett won the Norm Smith, as he came close to doing so when he was playing for us in the ’99 GF.

MrMOB
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Washington DC

I stayed up late in Washington DC and watched the live coverage on Fox Sports World. First impression, what the hell happened to the G with all that construction and cranes as the backdrop? Then, Kath and Kim. Would Kim’s thong/g-string exposure qualify as a wardrobe malfunction if seen on American network TV and incur a 550 thousand dollar fine? Probably not, thank God. The whole thing was refreshingly Australian, everyone seemed to be having a good time in Melbourne’s balmy 18-degrees C and there was plenty of biffo in the first quarter. Maybe we should export the AFL to the US to replace the ice hockey season which doesn’t look like it will get off the ground this year due to player contract disputes. The bare knuckle action and big swinging hits in AFL would keep hockey fans happy for a season or two! (Cringed ever so slightly when one of the announcers blithely remarked that Lions forward Alistair Lynch could have knocked someone’s head off into the grandstand after one of his swings, but then I’ve been reading too much news this week about American hostages being decapitated in Iraq.)

The Pacific

I was crossing the Pacific on UA840 (Sydney-Los Angeles) during the Grand Final, but the obliging captain spent more time trying to get the results for us than actually flying the plane, it appeared. He proudly announced that he had to resort to bouncing a satellite message to the United operations centre in Chicago, who relayed the results from an employee somewhere in Sydney.

The captain read out the goals and behinds slowly over the PA, apologising that while he knew they were important to many passengers, he had no idea what it meant. About half the plane erupted when he finished, the other half (the Yanks I guess) looked a bit bemused…

Thom Cookes

Wellington

Although only across the ditch in the Land of the Long Aussie-Bash (you’d have thought the way the media went on about it, NZ beat Australia the other night on the cricket – not England!) Aussie Rules does not get a big look in.

Thankfully cable channel Sky Sport provided traditional Grand Final Day coverage from the Breakfast, all the way through the pre-match with Bert Newton to the game itself. It was like being at home.

A big well done to the Australian High Commission website for alerting those who did not know that the Grand Final was on … along with the Federal election!

This expat spent the day happily with other expats and English ring-ins (the latter who’d never seen the game in their lives and wanted it constantly explained – e.g. what is a corky?!). Ten’s coverage was on from start to finish and we enjoyed a traditional footy lunch of meat pies, hot dogs, Crownies and then made the Lions supporter watch the last quarter again. (Sorry about that Kirsten!)

Great to have Tim Lane back commentating again and we enjoyed the Pagan / Laidley segment. Highlights of the day – trying to explain to English friends why our unofficial national song is about a thief who kills himself; who was Cazaly; and Bert. NZ may be not that far geographically distant, but for the expats gathered to listen to Tim and Huddo, it reminded us of just how great home is; how we miss the smell of muddy ovals and the cries of ‘chips, pies, hot dogs’ and how no matter where you are as a good Victorian, few things are as enjoyable than seeing a decent bit of biff in a Grand Final!

Expat Dees Supporter
Wellington, NZ

Amsterdam

There are about half dozen Australians currently working in Nike’s European headquarters for the 3rd year running, we watched the game in Holland … downtown Amsterdam – 6am start next to a coffee shop & around the corner from the red light district. Just your typical sports cafe – a bar with flat TVs everywhere, including the men’s toilet. In the past, been a combination of ex-pats & back-packers from the southern hemisphere – anywhere between 50 to 100 people this year we were lucky to get 20 of us drinking cold Heinekens & tucking into a full English b’fast seems having 2 interstate clubs in the grand final, just doesn’t provide the same global appeal carn the pies for ’05.

Simon Traynor


Bucharest

There is a solid six pack core of Expats gathering in Bucharest, Romania at 6am tomorrow to watch the game live from 7am.

Here in the capital rated one of, if not the most corrupt country in the world, home to Copiers of all things, Pirates of all things and not unattractive women, this intrepid band has found a Kiwi of all people who has a “Pirated Box” and disc capable of getting Sky live.

Thankfully no Collingwood supporter amongst us, Eagle, Docker, Hawk, Swan and two Sydney guys who could not give a stuff coming for the food and drinks only – this band of expats mainly from the finance profession, PWC, E&Y, Deloittes (trying to advise the Roms on a Market economy) and Mining, (who can forget the Danube spill of four years ago) a Journo, and Import Export guy, Blokes only!

We have requested all furniture in the Kiwi ‘s lounge be shifted to the bedroom and hallway so we all can stand and watch the footy, he agreed!

Breakfast starts at 6pm with a loosener , we have had a slab of VB hidden and saved for this event, not much between six, but in Bucharest priceless, as alcohol imports are 110% taxed , so of little interest to

Fosters, Breakfast , Bacon Eggs, Tomatoes, Baked Beans (Heinz of course saved again for the occasion ) and wait for it – Middle loin Lamb chops courtesy of Westmeats of Dandenong who imports into Bucharest and the main reason the Kiwi agreed to stage the event! Washed down with a sparking white, which should take us up to half time.

We then will open the first of many of the finest Reds from Coonawarra, from Hollicks Coonawarra who also imports into Romania a Cab Sav blend and a Shiraz – this should see us to completion of the game and then onto lunch and the post mortem.

These guys actually get super salary packages and a hardship allowance to work here? Makes one wonder Hardship allowance?

Go Power
Bill McVeigh

Beijing

As a compulsive and paid up member of Crikey I must tell you of our day yesterday. A trusty band of Aussies (and a couple of ring-in Kiwis and a Welshman) gathered at our apartment in Beijing to watch the big game. We did not have to run the magic box like the crew in Bucharest as we get excellent coverage on ABC Asia Pacific. The first beer (Boags Premium – a link back to Tassie for me and especially preserved for the occasion!) was cracked open at 11:30am as the coverage began. The BBQ was a hit and we settled down for the event. Many members arrived in their footy gear. The crow-eaters present were united in their desire for the Lions to win as they all (bar just one) agreed that an abiding hatred for all things Port Adelaide started at birth!

After all the burgers and snags disappeared out came a few decent Aussie reds to finish off the afternoon. A brilliant day was had and we can’t wait for the next season to start (especially the Carlton supporters, there were 4 of us there!!!)

Keep up the great work and we tried to do our best!

Jim


Papua New Guinea

I’ll be watching the game with the nearly two hundred plus members of the A.R.S.O.L.’s, that’s the Aussie Rules Supporters of Lae for the initiated.

We’re based in Lae, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. We have a tipping comp and a couple of get togethers during the footy season with a huge Grand Final bash. This year we even had the great Ron Barassi attend our start of season function as guest speaker.

Alex

Washington DC, USA

It might be comforting to readers of Crickey that the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C. – the embassy is one of only three countries that shares intelligence with the United States – was the only place in D.C. that could not get a cable feed to watch the AFL Grand Final Saturday night. Hence, for Aussies and Americans deprived of VBs and meat pies the deprivation must continue, and it was to an Irish Bar to watch the game, or at least the first three quarters until the bar shut. In a reflection of the goodwill and tolerance of Australians, not much was broken in the ensuing riot.

Yours in full faith in the competence of Australia’s diplomatic corp.

Patrick
Colac, Australia

London

As an ex-staff member of the Brisbane Lions, now travelling the globe, not a week goes by during the Season without logging onto www.lions.com.au to check out the latest news, reviews and performance of my team.

This year I jumped out of bed at 4:00am after sleeping in my Number 6 Lions Guernsey all week to watch the Grand Final at the “Slug & Lettuce” in Fulham. Kick off was 5:30am and I was extremely nervous because I new that this Grand Final game would really challenge the Lions compared to the Final’s in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

I have never felt more home sick since departing Australia 14 months ago then what I felt after the Grand Final game on Saturday. My heart was crashed.

The Brisbane Lions did not achieve their awesome foursome result but to me the entire team are true heros, their determination week in, week out drives me as an independent traveller to accomplish my greatest fears. I am not only honoured to be an Aussie but am also proud to be a Brisbane Lions Supporter. All for one and one for all! Keep your chins up lads; you have plenty to be proud of!

Nikki Young in London

Bali

We’d hired bicycles from our hotel in Nusa Dua to escape the resort splendour and see more of local life. As we negotiated our way around live-fish sellers, chickens, dogs, cats, pot-holes, cavalier bus drivers, scooters carrying entire families, and even the occasional sunburned tourist, we were amazed to see a chalkboard on the road advertising the footy. Inside the gorgeous Balinese bar were an assortment of resident & visiting Aussies, a special “footy menu” of meat pies & chips, and three big screen TVs. The ABC Asia coverage was a direct Channel Ten feed with the ABC logo supered over the action. After much cheering and a few Bintangs we attacked the ride back to our hotel with much more courage than our outward journey!

Diana


Scotland

I am a Brisbanite and therefore a Lions supporter. On a bus tour of Scotland with a Victorian or two last year I switched on the TV in the motel at Leith, Edinburgh before breakfast. It was the third quarter of a live telecast and the Lions had almost double the score of the opposition ! ! I ate with the tour group without saying a word that THE GAME was on local television. Otherwise my travelling companions would have had a most unenjoyable trip. They were expecting a delayed telecast later that night and I kindly let them enjoy the final day of the trip.

Tony Traveller


Enmore

I’ll be ensconced in a lovely local in Enmore, but I was just talking it up to a bunch of Seppo and Cannuck mates and pointing them in all the right directions when I came across this shocker on the Triple J website and I quote:

“Listen Live please note: due to content rights issues, we will be streaming DIG duration of the AFL Grand Final: 14:00 – 17:00 on the 24.10.04.”

Who’s fault is this?!?! If the Festival Of The Boot isn’t one of the great advertisements for the game, then I’m too hungover to think of a good metaphor.

FIFTY!!

Na-Na