So what is the big draw for a lions tour? In 2001 I was lucky enough to see for myself, and to experience Australia in all its glory. With some financial help from my friends and some extra time off from work I found myself on the plane to Melbourne a week before the 2nd test. The lions were 1-0 up in the series which I was not lucky enough to make even though my friends did see the win from a bar in Brisbane! (They still rib me to this day that I was the Jonah)
After a 20 odd hour flight I arrived in Melbourne, got to the hotel at about 630am so decided to have a quick look round and find somewhere to eat. My friends were not due in until 3pm so I took a sleeping pill and crashed waiting for them to arrive. Their arrival was something out of a comedy film, my friend Phil was out the lift first sporting a Mohican and carrying a slab of VB over his shoulder as his ‘carry-on luggage’, my friend Andy (Roy) came out second looking as white as a ghost with sick down his top, not a frequent flyer I may add!!!!
So began a week of drinking, eating and eating and drinking, with a strip club or two thrown in for good measure and a game of Ozzie rules footie which we did not realise went on for hours!! We were all awaiting the arrival of our Australian friend Josh (chopper) on the Friday, from Sydney to enable us to start the banter.
The day of the 2nd test arrived which coincided with Choppers birthday so we knew it would be a great day…. The colonial stadium was a sea of red, so many lions fans baying for Ozzie blood! Well happy birthday Chopper, the lions went down 35-14, so there was only one thing to do of course which goes hand in hand with the oval ball game, drink and we did till the wee hours of the morning. Not helped by the 24 hour casino over the road from our hotel! One of the funny things was Roy asking the security team on numerous occasions what time do you close!!?
It was strange being so far away from England watching rugby that I had only previously seen on TV!
On to Sydney for the next part of our tour down under, we had the good fortune to stay with Chopper and his wife Steph (who we all knew as she used to work in our local!!) in a place called Emu Plains on the outskirts of Sydney. With our hire car we did some local tourist related stuff like visit the Blue Mountains, Wonderland, and the clubhouse of Penrith Panthers (which was amazing). Whilst there we visited the supermarket to discover the beauty of the walk in beer freezers, so we all had to oblige and purchased a crate of Twooheys new which I think should of actually sponsored our tour, along with the chocolate freddos which we all destroyed by the box full to raise money for a local pre-school! The 3rd test duly arrived of we went to the amazing Olympic stadium full of excitement and nervous energy.
The atmosphere was electric and what a game, some big names stood up to be counted some big hits went in etc etc! The game was end to end with the lions unfortunately coming off second best going down 29-23! As we traipsed back to the train to do some more drinking to drown our sorrows in Sydney we were treated to the most amazing sing song orchestrated by an Irish man, songs varied from the anthems of all the 4 countries to the unofficial songs. The whole carriage joined in which was kind of amazing to see the unity of the lions fans! Then the Irish man asked if any of our Ozzie colleagues would like to sing a song, but they declined so he started singing the theme to Neighbours, the whole carriage again joined in which was hilarious!!!! On entering Sydney we realised there was no way of getting a drink in the bars as they were packed to the rafters! So luckily we headed out to the Bondi hotel to spend the night drinking (common theme occurring?) and having the one of the best nights ever.
The last part of my journey was staying in a hotel in the lovely part of Sydney called Kings cross! Apparently when booked (no names mentioned) it was the wrong hotel and we should have been staying in the one by the rocks! Anyway, this turned out to be great base! We visited Manly island, Circular Quay, Darling harbour, the bridge and opera house etc. etc.
I am sure I have missed loads off this blog, however it was 12 years ago and I have children!!!
Then my time was up, we said goodbye to Josh and Steph, I then had to return to the airport for my flight home as Andy & Phil were off to New Zealand to finish their tour (the lucky Bast**ds)…
I had an amazing three weeks as an official lions fan, have so much memorabilia and photos and of course the amazing lasting memories of what can only be described as an “epic” rugby adventure. I recommend any rugby fan to do a lions tour once in their lifetime, to see first-hand what the hype is about. It’s not just the rugby; it’s the atmosphere, the laughs, the comradeship, the highs and the lows!
**I am sure I have missed loads off this blog, however it was 12 years ago and I have children!!!
Which leads me now to 12 years later it’s Australia again and hopefully a chance for redemption, looking at the way they stared against the Baa Baas my fingers are firmly crossed! So, it’s now time to get saving again for the next one in 4 years’ time!!!!!
**Andy and me after losing the 2nd test!! Note the red hair!!!