No Guts, No Glory

Trip Start Sep 08, 2011
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Trip End Jan 08, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sport is an important part of Australian life. We've all been tormented by the typical Aussie, bragging about their glorious exploits on the playing field, whether it be the Wallabies at rugby, the Socceroos at football, Ian Thorpe in the pool or the cricket team (though, they are unusually quiet about that at the moment – it might have something to do with just being thrashed by South Africa and losing the Ashes earlier in the year). So this Saturday it only seemed apt to go and see what it’s all about.

There’s a cricket ground near the house, so we loaded the dog, Evie, up with the appropriate supplies (beer), got some rum (you can’t watch cricket without Mount Gay Rum) and headed over. For a local game, it struck me that the level was remarkably high, until Paul informed me that what we were watching was an 'A’ grade game, meaning that the standard of play was just below state level and it was this pool of players that the state team was picked from. The game was good, but it was made even better by watching one batsman smash 3 sixes in one over and then, the pièce de résistance, the wicket keeper took his eye off the ball and got whacked in the nuts! He keeled over like a felled tree – in case you don’t know, a cricket ball is hard.

By the time it was time to leave the cricket, both Paul and I were in good spirits, having lightened Evie’s load. We were joined by Paul’s friend, Dave, and Paul’s brother, Neill and headed over to the second instalment of sport: football. I had adopted Perth Glory as my football team in Australia and it was time to go and see them in action against Sydney FC. This was to be my introduction into A-League soccer (the Australian version of The Premier League or La Liga BBVA).

The first thing that stood out about the nib Stadium (their home ground), was that there weren’t many Australians there. The supporters were mostly Aussie born Europeans or foreigners – in fact, the attendance was only 9,046 (the 46 were probably the away fans. Unsurprisingly, there is never much away support at the nib as Perth is on the other side of the continent to everywhere else). The atmosphere, though, was good, we were standing in The Shed, where the ‘hardcore’ support was, or basically where all the noise was coming from. Glory had started the season well, but they had lost their two previous games and within a few minutes of the match starting it was not difficult to see why. Maybe I’m spoilt by the beautiful passing game of Barça, but Glory’s tactics were basically kick and rush. The game turned out to be aerial ping pong and neither side really kept the ball on the ground – not quite the ‘tiki taka’ style I’m used to. Nevertheless, it was all good fun, especially as I hadn’t heard the word, "Wanker", used so often since my arrival – that’d be in the Poms’ (British) section then. Unfortunately, the Glory lost (making it three in a row), but like I said, it had been an entertaining evening.

After drinking beer all day, both at the cricket and at the football, it was time for some sustenance; a... kebab! After some debate as to where the best kebab in Perth might be, the decision was taken to go to Subiaco (a suburb of Perth) and get a kebab from Kebabaways. Now, I’ve mentioned kebabs before, but maybe I should go into a bit more depth here. In Britain, the kebab is in a large pita bread, packed with meat, liberally covered with salad and drowned in hot chilli sauce. In Spain, it’s more common to have a durum, which is like a tightly rolled wrap (made of thin bread), with less meat and salad and a dash of yogurt and so-called hot sauce. Well, here in Oz, it’s somewhere between the two. The pita is not cut open, but the meat is placed on it and then the bread is folded/rolled to make a half open cylinder. So, it’s not quite a durum (wrap), nor is it a classic British kebab. That, in itself, is not much, but what makes the Aussie kebab, truly exceptional are extras. The range of salad is wider, including mushrooms, aubergines and roasted bell peppers and eggs! But, wait, there’s more. Apart from chilli sauce, also on offer is garlic sauce, sweet chilli sauce, bbq sauce, tomato ketchup and more (in any combination you like) – and they drown it in the stuff. And it’s delicious!

Like Britain, the kebab is usually eaten in the street, so we went out to take in the vistas of Subiaco. Subi (*a curious phenomenon is that just about all place names are shortened in Oz*) is a hotbed of nocturnal activity in Perth and I have to say, I hadn’t seen that many short dresses assembled in one place before. Short dresses are clearly in in Perth. A very pleasant way to eat a kebab.

Neill, the designated driver, then offered to show me Perth by night and for that we went to Kings Park. One thing I hadn’t noticed about Kings Park, but was soon brought to my attention, was that each tree had a plaque in front of it inscribed with the name of a World War 1 soldier who had been killed in the conflict. That was a lot of trees and a lot of soldiers, over 1,400 of them.

The view from Kings Park was splendid. I would go so far as to say that the Perth skyline at night is even more impressive than that of Melbourne. High praise, indeed. Kings Park is a little freaky, because, even though it’s in the middle of the city, there are no lights on the road and you feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside. It’s dark. The feeling of uneasiness isn’t exactly soothed when the others in the car, incidentally all bigger than me, joke about this being the spot where they were going to kill me and hide the body! Oh, these Australians and their sense of humour! *gulp!*
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