YOU COULD FEEL THE TENSION

It was one of those see-sawing games and you could feel the tension. It was a Rugby League football game between the mighty St George Dragons and the sworn-enemy Melbourne Storm. I had persuaded Margaret to come to the game and we were in a group of loyal St George supporters high up in the tallest Grandstand at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The Storm struck first, scoring their first try in the 7th minute. It was converted, making the score 6-0. It was a brutal game with heavy tackles, some legal and some not-so-legal. One by a Storm player saw a Dragons half-back stretchered off the field in the thirtieth minute. The tension was palpable with looks of determination on the faces of every St George player. When the next scrum went down, everyone in the crowd knew that something big was going to happen. They were not disappointed when the scrum disintegrated and a huge fight erupted, leaving the guilty Storm forward on the ground with a bleeding nose. One of the Dragons front-rowers was sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes so the Dragons were now down to 12 players against the Storm’s full team. Now the Dragons were really angry and played as if there was no tomorrow and scored against the formidable opposition. Score at half-time locked at 6-all.

Some people do not approve of football because it is so rough. They complain about the physical contact, the spilt blood and the violence, but the players want to play, the spectators want to watch and it keeps young aggressive men off the streets. They use up their energy training and playing the game that they love. It helps with mental health as well as physical health.

The second half started slowly, but a volcano was about to erupt. You could feel the tension as each player took the ball and ran with determination. During the next 25 minutes each team scored a converted try and soon it was 12 points all with five minutes to full-time. With all the tension another brawly erupted and two more players were sent to the sin-bin. St George managed to work the ball down to the Storm’s try line and in the last minute, as St George were about to score a field goal to win the match, Margaret said to me:

“You know, you can see the Harbour Bridge from up here.”

That was the last time Margaret went to the football.

–IAN FERRIE

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