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Sunday, July 14, 2013

6 July The final match

The song title today, just has to be one from all four union's countries, played at full time, after all the ceremonies.
Chelsea Tractor - Fratellis
Beautiful Day - U2
Delilah - Tom Jones - couldn't they have chosen something by the Stereophonics?
Wonderwall - Oasis - the hairs went up on the back of my neck, as the Lions fans sang the team's tour song from 1997. This moment I will take to my dying day.

I got up at 3.50am this morning, having woken every 30 minutes at least to check the time. It was after midnight when I got into bed as the opera finished late and taxis seemed to be few and far between. I have never overslept when I've needed to get up early, my alarms have never let me down, yet I still live in fear of not waking up when I have something special going on. This morning I was climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge at dawn. This meant climbing the bridge at 5.30am to be at the top as the sun came over the horizon at Manly. The sun seemed to oversleep this morning, however and we had to wait on top of the Bridge for 30 minutes. Normally, once the photo is taken at the top, its down you go. A cruise ship docked in front of us at Circular Quay. Before the climb, we were all asked who would win the game. I hoped 2 points. No one went for a big score, with the exception of one woman who thought Wales would win by 15. (silly woman).

From then on, the rest of the day was spent kicking around waiting for the kick off. I didn't feel at all confident that a win was on the cards, but was really nervous. All routes to the ground were free, as they are when major events are on in Australia - whether sporting or Rihanna. One of the routes was a leisurely ferry up to Parramatta and the Olympic Park. On a tense day, this seemed the most relaxing way up there.

The stadium looms large at the ground, and around it are different stadia that are still in use, although the venues haven't quite got the aura and of Melbourne, although of course 22 November 2003 and 6 July 2013 are beginning to write that history.

Because catering is a bit limited at the Park, a variety of concessions set themselves up in tents on the walkway to the ground, there are sponsors tents, tented shops etc, and the two bars opposite the stadium extend out into he square in front - covering areas as big as the pitch itself. Aussie food is geared to protein, I asked for for chicken and chips and was given chicken chips - we'd call them nuggets, and no carbs!

The Brewery bar was taken over by Lions fans, which was attached to the Novotel, which was where the Lions players would be having a nap. In true Aussie fashion, (noise to create sleep depravation), and also to get things going,  there was a disco blaring out rock music, an Aussie Scottish bagpipes band. Everyone knew the plan - smash the Aussie scrum - no Plan B. Gatland had put everything on red, but did the Aussies have the answer?

I went to the final Lions Den in the badminton arena - it lacked a bit of atmosphere after last week. It could be because of the huge size, but I also think it was because of nervousness. One of the guests tonight was Donal Lenihan. He was negative saying that the Lions would lose (a dropped Irishman was the reason why). No wonder his team were known as Donal's Donuts', he could cause Tiger to want Prozac. Ickle Shane was nervous, and tried to be funny, but wasn't - it could have been tension rather than dumbness, although you never can be sure. Andy Nichol tried to break a superstition by wearing a different shirt to break a losing habit. The Manic Street Preachers came on again and pumped the crowd up. We could win. I left believing.

Yet again the stadium record was broken, (it had been remodelled since 2003). The Lions support had grown from last week, and this time we wee in bigger blocks, so could make more noise. Corbs' try set the tone and volume in the first minutes, and I began to believe. All 4 nations songs were sung willingly, even though the rest of the years it was the song for the opposition. The Aussie PA was so loud, there was feedback, but it didn't drown us out. This was Lions history in the making, and boy did the team deliver.
After the formalities, the crowd went wild, running down to the front to get closer to their heroes on their lap of honour. The four songs mentioned at the start were the party music with players and fans singing. We were all one big pride, singing and dancing late into the night. As for the rest of the night.... What goes on tour, stays on tour......

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