Blair_A_9100411You know what they say, when an opportunity rears it’s head, grab it.

I had the exciting opportunity to go the the 2009 NRL grand final last night. Since I’ve been getting some tremendous information about the game from a couple of very knowledgeable sources all season, it was just a little bit more exciting for a novice like me.

This year demand was high and tickets were scarce and actually the event was sold out. In this situation it pays to have friends in high places and I really wanted to go. Part of this was fueled by having had a awesome time last week watching the semi final with Parramatta Eels vs Canterbury Bulldogs. Very happily, I got to the final.

I seem to have been spending a lot of time at the ANZ stadium lately, and being the risk taker that I am, suggested to my friend we take the chance and go without prebooking parking. No prebooked parking means parking in *sigh P5, so you take a shuttle bus to the ground. The queue at the bus stop revealed that two costumes were being donned on the night, the Parramatta one of yellow and blue and the Melbourne Storm a more tasteful purple and black.
Karen- bootsSince I am Switzerland; I wore my silver boots.

Whoever we were, we all looked forward to a good game and that’s exactly what we got!

Once the bus shuttled to the entrance of the stadium the atmosphere hit me. The buzz and the noise filled the air and I knew this was a different game to the one I had seen just last week. All of Sydney were behind the Parramatta Eels while their opponents the talented mexicans behind the Melbourne Storm.

Finding our seats, our eyes are glued to the centre of the ground where the band Wolfmother are belting out “Joker and a Thief”. It was all pretty exciting and ever practical Karen was impressed with the fold-out take-away stage. Then, viewing the video footage of what seemed to be a random helicopter, an army black hawk hurtled towards the stadium and a pilot waved and dropped out the games ball.

The crowd were so noisy, it was hard to hear each other but it all added to the tremendous atomosphere of the record breaking 82,000 Rugby League fans enjoying the spectacle.

Sydney 2109The eels had won many of their last games but were on taking on a very experienced team who have won the last three grand finals and were looking determined to take the honours.

This being my second football experience, I loved it more than ever and the flow of the game was becoming clearer to me now. The fans are right behind their team and disappointingly for many, by half time the eels were not looking to be competitive enough.

Nevertheless, half time brought much excitement with more entertainment and a demonstration of dancing girls by both clubs. Pffft, I did notice my friend was very entertained, hmmm what’s the matter with my pom poms?

Anyway, the second half starts and the Storm score again but the underdog came back and the Eels were fighting their way back into the game. It could have been a fairytale ending but the athletism and speed of Ingis and Slater leave the Eels fans in disbelief. There were lots of people leaving and when the hooter sounded my friend tried to drag me out too but I wanted to see the presentation and the speeches as the evening finished to bring the whole event to a completion.

Shuttling back to the outer P5 car park another exciting event began called “Find where you parked your car”?
This event was a 40 minute exercise *bah. But I didn’t mind really even though it rained and my hair got trashed, because it was such a tremendous all-round experience.

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There’s something special about a night out at a great game. I had an opportunity to go to the rugby last week and check out the Wallabies taking on the might of the New Zealand All blacks at the Bledislow Cup.

If you are going to a major sporting event in Sydney, let me start by making this helpful suggestion, it’s an excellent  idea to pre-book your parking or get there very very early. Just my luck this event was very popular and little did I know the 80,000 plus crowd were all heading for ANZ stadium, just like me and my sports minded client, bah! 😦

When you have made a decision to brave the crowds to see a competitive event, you might as well see it courtesy of a corporate box.  This being my first live sporting adventure in quite some time, I grabbed the opportunity to accompany my associate (Mr Communication)  for a total experience. The idea was we would enjoy all the luxuries that a box offers and end the evening in a bit of our own live action.  These activities were to be better placed in the privacy of the five star Hotel Suite that awaited us post match.

With all the dramas of finding parking (which by the way was a fair distance from the venue), luckily we were ushered into an awaiting shuttle bus.  Our comrades were a herd of green and gold cattle and we all sped along at a fast pace and found ourselves delivered at the doorstep of the ANZ Stadium.

Trying to find the correct gate for entry proved especially testing. Mr Communication grumbled that the alphabet could not have been my strong point at school.  Unfortunatly, I had recommended that we take the particular route that ensured we ended up going around the longest and most incorrect way to our entrance.

Anyway, after a hike that would have challenged Sir Edmond Hillary, we finally reached our designated gate.  As you can imagine we were thrilled to find our seats and looked forward to celebrating a major event.

Mr Communication was the host of the box so I had to be on my best behavior and that can be quite difficult as I can be quietly cheeky. Unfortunately, our guests were running very late so one glass of wine became another and on an empty stomach I realised I was feeling the effects of a good night far too early.  It was a good move to get the entrée rolling .  First off there was confit of ocean trout with a fennel salad and chicken and cucumber fingers with chive mayo.   The guests begin to arrive and I was warming up and feeling excited with the game about to start.

Everyone stood up and sang the national anthems which really got the crowd buzzing and the game commenced.

About the same time as the game starting, the  main course arrived.  This was a generous serve of Beef Stroganoff and rice with an accompanying Italian roll and butter.  By now our guests were very thirsty and the drinks were flowing at a vigorous pace. I had to keep up with all the guests requests as well as making sure Mr Communication was well taken care of, no complaints from him.

89999921_10_(Large)_thumbnail_imageThis was like a Gladiator event with the two bouncing off each other and the physical interaction between the players made for spectacular viewing. Now, I’m not a rugby expert and I did pick  up that the game was very stop/start and that this made it a little annoying at stages. Our box was really going off with all screaming for the Wallabies except for one brave sole that decided the origin of her birth made it mandatory she interact with and support the All Blacks.

The food just kept coming, desert was a hamper with passion fruit cake, vintage cheese, Charleston Brie with lavosh,  mixed nuts and preserved fruits. The coffee followed with a yard of chocolates as an accompaniment.

Thankfully the food was good as the game finished with the Wallabies losing by a miserable point. The group I was with was not happy so we drowned our sorrows with more beverages.  Right on cue supper followed and you guessed it MORE FOOD!  Amazingly most of our group were able to tackle the pepper steak pies, chicken and lemongrass wonton and mini pizzas with pumpkin, fetta and rocket.

The night was coming to an end and so were the food and drinks. It was time to make the trek to the car park beyond the shuttle bus trip.  There were hordes of disappointed Aussie supporters milling round and a smaller but elated Kiwi mob.   Finally made it back to out vehicle and headed to our upmarket hotel and engaged in an exciting event of our own which was predicted to be just as spectacular as the game we had just experienced.