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Anzac Day – time to pass it on?

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A much much younger James Hird on the big stage...

A much much younger James Hird on the big stage…

It’s hard to believe that it was 18 years ago that I traveled to the MCG to see the Bombers take on the Pies on Anzac Day, completely unaware of the history that was about to unfold.

I remember it being a bright, warm day, and the regular amount of seats left unattended or covered in bags and jackets quickly being removed an hour or so before the game for the masses of patrons that were streaming in.

The ground felt fuller and fuller, and as a fan, you always want that. Big crowds mean a bigger atmosphere. Big atmospheres lead to great games and memorable moments.

Then word filtered through.

The gates have been shut. This place is full.

Anzac Day full MCG

History in the making

We weren’t to know then that the epic draw that played itself out that bright, sunny day would initiate of the game’s great traditions.

Two of the biggest teams in the country, in terms of followers and premierships have been going at it for 18 years straight now. As a fan, and as a fan who has attended a lot of these games, it’s the biggest regular season game by far.

Firstly, it’s Collingwood. Enough said. You want to beat them. You want their fans to go home disappointed. If you could be guaranteed one home and away victory, this would be it, no questions asked. Read the rest of this entry

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The significance of the Anzac Day game

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Ever been a part of something special but not quite understood the immensity of what was transpiring?

17 years ago, I went to the MCG for ‘just another game of footy’ between Essendon and Collingwood. It took a little while to recognise that this was no ordinary day at the G.

Fortunately, I’m an early arrival at the footy, if the tickets aren’t pre-purchased. It’s good to get there early and sit in your favourite area. For me, it’s the top level of the Great Southern Stand, behind the goals. See the game from above, see the goals, see Matty Lloyd; you can’t lose!

Lllllllllllllllllllloyd!!

So, I was oblivious to the impending pandemonium that was descending downstairs as thousands upon thousands of people attempted to gain entry. When Collingwood coach Leigh Matthews arrived at 12.30pm, there were so many people milling outside the ground, he thought the gates hadn’t yet been opened. The only sign of this high in the stands was that the usual spreading out of fans’ belongings and bags was curtailed as officials directed entrants to ev-ery available seat. Things were tight!

Big crowd, big day

It’s fantastic when you are at a game early and you know that a big crowd is present. The general public seating bays are full and there’s a non-stop, anticipatory buzz around the ground.

As the sun streamed down, word quickly spread through the crowd as the radio stations announced a lockout at 1.30pm, a full 40 minutes before bouncedown. There were still 20,000 people outside! Mounted police were called in to disperse them. So by now, some sense of deductive reasoning would lead you to conclude that a significant day was in the making. Read the rest of this entry