Back in Melbourne Friday afternoon was a great tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) where we got a chance to step into the clubhouses, locker rooms, press conference room, the prep room for the cricketers and ultimately we stood on the lawn of the MCG (should have stole a blade of grass)! As well, we took a moment while touring the Long Room to have a seat in the leather couches. Quite the photo opportunity it was, to sit in a seat where only Cricket Club members who have been a member for over 50 years can sit to watch a game. Not planning on paying $99,000 a year for membership, I decided to take a picture! So do a little math, 50 years X $99,000 or a $15 tour of the MCG to sit in the Cricket Club’s leather couches, I choose the latter.
Saturday was another day of footy followed by basketball. To start the day Tiger’s brother and sister in-law, Joe and Katy, drove us to Visy Park. Formally called the Optus Oval, its where the AFL’s Carlton Blues call home, these days it’s just their training facility like most Melbourne area teams, Carlton plays their home games in the MCG. At Visy Park we got our excitement built up for our upcoming season of footy by running boundary and running water to the players of the Melbourne Uni scratch match. Well, just like the game itself and the players, the umpiring crew doesn’t stop either. It was a hot day for being in the snow 5 days prior! Running boundary means you are the umpire that signals when the ball is out-of-bounds and then throws the ball in to continue play, or if determined to be ‘on the full’ which is ‘in the air’ or ‘on the fly’ the opposition gets a free kick. Running water was more interesting as I got to stand and maneuver around the play during the game, rather than being on the sidelines for running boundary. Just being involved and seeing live footy got the adrenaline pumping for my upcoming training and footy experience Down Under.
Later that evening, we joined in the fun to watch Joe and the Kilsyth Cobras play basketball. Although it is not a Mergen tradition to enjoy basketball, I did my best to fit in. After meeting a few of the guys it’s fun to watch and cheer for someone you know, no complaints. As well, Tiger and I joined the team in celebrating a birthday after the game with good conversation and a couple of beers at a house gathering. As many proceeded to the clubs after the gathering, we had to dip and go home for a few hours’ rest before our 6AM flight. Icing on the cake (my interest in basketball that evening), Joe is a stud athlete, he really should be the one giving footy a try: 6’7” 250lbs, 36” vertical, athletic and fit – if I had anyone of those qualifications, I would be a better footy player! Sorry, the story always revolves back to footy! FYI, I am secretly devising a plan to get Joe a tryout or to be seen by the AFL, soon I might have to give up my footy aspirations to be his agent. Just kidding, but it might be worth it if this footy thing doesn't pan out to be my career.
The next morning it was an early start to the airport to retrieve a found but previously lost checked-luggage bag of Tiger’s and catch that brutal 6AM flight to Perth/Freo.
Well, that was it for the Melbourne adventure, a big thank you to Joe and Katy Werner for hosting us and driving us everywhere we wanted to be. Joe, picking us up at the airport and dropping us off again in the hours before dawn was a great gesture of Midwestern Hospitality, as well getting us to the footy game Saturday afternoon! And a shout out to Quincy, the roommate of Joe and Katy as well as Joe’s teammate, thanks for dealing with my mess and overtaking of the common area. There is nothing like having a ‘home’ and being with people you know and can relate to – sometimes traveling gets old when the hype and excitement of seeing new things wears you down.