I’ve always been fascinated by England. Well, as long as I can remember anyway.
Thinking super carefully, I can probably trace it back to my first day of grade seven, when Peter arrived at my primary school – new to town, tall dark and handsome with a cute English accent and brown leather sandals. I was smitten, and (nearly) all things English have caught my attention ever since.
I did eventually go out with Peter by the end of that year. But the start of high school after our blissful summer holiday saw us head off to different schools, cruelly divided by the major highway that runs through my home town and the school catchment areas dictated by it. Within a short time I was distracted by a crush on an older guy at my new school, and Peter and I eventually became virtual strangers.
Sadly my new crush – whom I never had any chance of even remotely being noticed by anyway – turned out to be a bit of a knob. (Actually, come to think of it, he reminds me a bit of Shane Warne – physically at least.)
But by then, it was too late. Peter had moved on. He’s now married to an older girl who lived down the road from my childhood home, who I was friends with through school. So for me the lovely Peter remains the proverbial one who got away…
And what has this got to do with cricket I hear you ask?
Well, I’m wondering whether the knob of an Aussie jerk who distracted me from that lovely English boy is my childhood crush equivalent of the Aussie Army compared to the Barmy Army.
Let’s just say that my first experience of live Ashes cricket at the MCG on the second day of the Boxing Day Test on Friday fell a little short of expectations!
Having bought the cheapest tickets possible and therefore ended up in a bay a little too square on, in a seat too far back and a lot too close to the Aussie Army bays, by the end of the day I was thoroughly embarrassed by the behaviour of that green and gold throng.
The number of people ejected from those bays (even if some probably were for dubious reasons) and the obnoxious and totally unnecessary chanting and taunting of the England players really upset me. As did the constant distractions from the on-field action – there were apparently fists flying on and off in that section for much of the third session, which I tried studiously to ignore but it was hard at times when there were so many rows of people in front standing up to have a gawk.
Call me a traditionalist, but I went to watch the cricket – not the police and security officers trying to control yobbos.
By comparison – although the Barmies are famously vocal and bullish about supporting their team, and do have some cheek about their taunts, I haven’t seen or heard them be anywhere near as insulting and obnoxious as the Aussie supporters.
And at least they show signs of some talent and culture. The Aussies don’t appear to manage anything more creative than changing the name in their “X is a wanker” chant. Charming.
I find it an interesting reflection of the respective cultural capital of the opposing team captains… but perhaps the less said the better on the posh school boy vs mongrel argument.
Anyway, so it’s no great surprise that by the end of that day, I was ready to turn English and get behind the Barmies instead.
To be fair, it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise to anyone who knows me. I have been sending a card of encouragement to the English team ahead of each game since Adelaide in this series after all. I really want them to do well! (just not well enough to win!). Plus, having loved living in England myself from 1997 to 2005 and maintaining a strong affinity with the country of my ancestry, I’ll always have a soft spot for all things English.
But never fear, after much better experiences on day 3 (row 4 from the turf, less square on, further from the obnoxious green and gold mess) and day 4 (upgrade to bronze, 1st bay next to sight screen, well away from the AA with the Barmies happily just the other side of the sight screen!) of the Boxing Day Test I can now happily spread my love uncomfortably across both teams again, and am even now planning a trip to the 2015 series in Blighty for more live Ashes experiences.
So the biggest lesson of my first Ashes experience? It’s well worth paying the upgrade price to get away from the yobbos in general reserve.
And more particularly as far away as possible from the Aussie Army! Then I can swing both ways as the mood takes me.