Parties, pints and potholes - life is never dull when you’re following the Lions
I’m rooming with Peter Clohessy. It’s like living with a new-born baby
The Aussies are mad into their sport but rugby union is way down the pecking order. Depending on what city you’re in, the top sport is either Aussie Rules or rugby league. With the Ashes coming up, cricket is a massive deal. And even on the night that the Brumbies beat the Lions, a lot of the crowd were checking their phones throughout the game to keep track of how the Australian soccer team were doing in their World Cup qualifier against Iraq.
It’s been interesting to watch the Lions fans come together. Following the Lions isn’t anything like following your country. Obviously, it’s a big deal for the players and for everybody involved in the matches. But for the majority of the people in the stands, the whole thing is a jolly. People won’t lost much sleep whether the Lions win or lose.
The atmosphere at the first Test last Saturday reminded me of the Hong Kong Sevens. It wasn’t like a Six Nations game or a World Cup game. You didn’t have people on the edge of their seat and there was nobody who was really nervous or anything beforehand. It was a carnival atmosphere from start to finish. Lots of people weren’t really watching the game all that closely, plenty of them were in and out to the bar.
Don’t worry – I’m not having a go. This isn’t like the Aviva argument all over again. It’s just interesting to watch, that’s all. Lions supporters aren’t really supporters in the way we think of supporters. Nobody has any real allegiance to the team. If Kurtley Beale had kicked one of those two penalties at the end of the game, it wouldn’t have changed the mood very much. The army of red shirts would still head off into Brisbane for the night and have a ball.
Because that’s what following the Lions is all about. It’s about fun, first and foremost. Apart from the players and staff, nobody’s day is ruined if the Lions lose. The people out here following the team around are on holiday with rugby as an add-on. Whereas if it was World Cup or something like that, we’d be here for the rugby but with the holiday as the add-on. It’s hard to get really passionate about a team that only come together every four years so most people just come and enjoy the party. It’s just a different mindset.
As the week has gone on, we’ve been joined by more old team-mates. Frankie Sheahan has arrived, Marcus Horan and Anthony Foley too. We all played in a legends match on Thursday night and we just about did ourselves justice. Some of the lads wouldn’t be in the best of shape now. Frankie’s belly is nearly at his knees and Foley isn’t far behind.