Russell Barwick writes ...
A disturbing day in Brisbane
Russell Barwick
June 25, 2013

A disturbing day in Brisbane started with a disturbing flight around lunchtime; disturbing in the sense that most of the passengers had an accent. English, Irish, Welsh and the odd kilt-wearing Scot. There were plenty of Aussies on board, too, but you just couldn't hear them. Nor could you see them. The most disturbing part of the flight was realising that we Australians now choose fashion over passion.

Apparently no red-blooded Aussie man in his right mind - myself included - would jump on a plane wearing a gaudy gold jumper or scarf, or even contemplate throwing on a silly gold wig before travelling. No, we shall leave those in the carry-on baggage and unleash them when we get to the ground - as late as possible - just in case we bump into someone we know. The Lions fans, however, are made of much sterner stuff. Nothing wrong with a red wig, kilt, lion's tail, British & Irish Lions jumper; and in fact if you don't wear something, you're a "daft git" (their words not mine).

So part one of the disturbing day was the disturbing flight. But part two was worse.

A mate and I headed down to the nearest publican's booth for a pre-game shandy, and the plane scene is replicated - only 20 times worse. At least I saw two guys wearing a Wallabies jersey, albeit wrapped around their waste. "Nah mate, we don't want to look like a nob too early," came the reply when I asked why. (I seriously doubt whether looking like a nob has a time reference to it.)


Anyway, we survived both an ear bashing from 40 Lions fans - most of whom had never met each other before this impromptu bonding session - and a reasonably priced Hawaiian schnitzel with a cleansing ale before heading to the ground. Resplendent in my scarf, my friend in his, we felt somewhat underdressed as the throng of Lions fans headed to Suncorp Stadium to soak up the pre-game atmosphere.

And this brings me to disturbing part three: Lions fans soak up a lot more atmosphere than we Aussies. Yes, there are a lot of them here on tours and holidays, and it only comes around once every four years, years but they seriously soaked up a lot of atmosphere. The guy sitting in front of me roared and screamed from the opening whistle - screaming at everything and even cheering a penalty to Australia. At this stage, I assumed he'd over indulged in the pre-game atmosphere soaking and was a tad confused. But he was funny.

And despite the efforts of the die-hard AUSTRALIAN fans, they were out-shouted, out-enthused, out-drunk and certainly out-sung by our Lions friends.

(Note to rugby fans: Waltzing Matilda does not, repeat DOES NOT, scare any opposing teams. It's about a bloke stealing a sheep!!)

Anyway, where was I?

Yes, out-enthused and all that by the Lions fans; and to make matters entirely worse, we were out-played. Yes, we were unlucky and missed a few kicks but, seriously, we were outplayed. The Lions played rugby, and we played on their mistakes. Don't get me wrong: I would've taken the win; Izzy was outstanding, Genia did everything, the forwards were fabulous, and it all came down to Kurtley's shot at goal and the now famous 'slip'.

While we felt for him, the Lions fans laughed. All the ribbing about being them being English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish came flooding back to haunt us in bucketloads, and I could already hear the joke about an Englishman an Irishman and an Australian named Kurtley Beale walk into a pub ...

That's disturbing.

Lions assistant coach Rob Howley enjoys the win over the Wallabies in Brisbane © Getty Images
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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