Well, although we’re not the biggest rugby fans in the world (I don’t even understand the rules), there seemed to be only one thing to do today, after all of the Pom-bashing in the papers. We decided to go completely overboard and put our head into the metaphorical lion’s mouth – by painting our faces and heading down to the local Aussie-filled pub. Australia, until a week ago indifferent to the cup and critical of the Wallabies, has performed an astonishing turnaround. Suddenly the radio is full of World Cup items, there was an official “Green and Gold Friday”, where everybody was encouraged to wear team colours, and we’re sick of hearing of recipes for Green and Gold food. Astonishing, considering that a week ago nobody seemed to care (because they didn’t ever expect to make the final). But any chance they’ve got to bash a Pom, they’ll take it.
Anyway, I’ll describe the scene – 300 hundred Aussies standing in a pub, watching the pre-match commentary, and in we walk. Suddenly silence descends, and everybody looks in our direction (just like when I walked into the Banff swimming pool with the Victorian swimming costume on…). It was slightly unnerving, and we weren’t sure what would happen. Anyway, it was okay – three lonely English fans on the far side of the bar cheered at us, and started a chorus of ‘Swing Low’, and we managed to get to the bar without a mauling – but barman decided with a smile to add a “World Cup Tax” to our drinks prices, because according to him “I shouldn’t be serving you with an offensive T-shirt on!”.
During the game it was predictably rowdy, with us 6 England fans trying to cheer at the right times in opposition to 300 “Go Aussies Go” calls. It was a nerve-wracking game for everybody to watch, but as English we really didn’t want to lose and hear the Aussie’s go on and on and on about it. Of course, in the last few seconds of normal time, the pub erupted when Australia equalised, and the game went into extra time. Then it went alternately quiet and noisy for the next 20 minutes, until it was all over and we’d won. Phew!
Of course, we were generous in our praise of their team (who wouldn’t be in that setting) but it didn’t stop us rubbing it in by posing for this photo in front of them all, and getting the biggest Wallaby fan in the room to take it! As we made our way out, lots of people good-naturedly shook our hands or patted our backs and said things like “Good playing today mate”. It was a great night, and the girls loved it, even if it did get a little bit noisy at times. Charlotte especially left really excited, even more so when the other fans gave her the flag to take away.