Ode to Manuka

@canberrabomber chose three things close to his heart for a piece set in Canberra:

1913+AFL+Manuka Oval….

1913 scoreboardManuka Oval, CanberraAFL Aussie Rules Football

Football in Manuka;
Demands a feed pre-game.
Or at the very least a quiet drink;
To ensure the early nerves are tamed.

I recall one afternoon,
Really, not that so long ago;
Heading out to see the Giants,
And the Bombers, go toe to toe.

We started that day,
At a place with a Bittersweet name.
We hoped our choice of venue,
Wouldn’t be an omen for the game

Enough time for a quiet bite,
A toasted foccacia at Ricetta,
Then we cross the road, and on goes;
The beloved Bombers sweater.

Round the corner we turn;
Before looking into the sky.
It’s hard not to miss the world’s;
Four largest squatters for the flies.

That’s the new lights of course,
And they are a welcome sight.
So our beloved Manuka oval;
Can host sports, day and night.

The excitement is building now;
As I join the other fans.
Nervously waiting in the queue,
Crumpled tickets in our hands.

As I scan the crowd gathering,
I know I’m in for flack.
Awash in a sea of orange,
It’s only me in red and black

I quietly find my seat near
A fan with GWS tatts!
I’ll quietly scan the Footy Record,
And read the pre-game stats.

Last time round it was the Master,
And apprentice, in the coaches’ boxes.
I Hird somewhere he was from Canberra,
But he has all but disowned us.

This time round the Giants’ coach
Is a young fella named Leon;  
Our coach is called ‘Bomber’ Thompson;
Although word is he won’t stay long.

The ground is filling up now,
And the game will soon begin.
Last year I was so confident,
But this time, I’m not sure we’ll win.

These young giants are improving,
After plundering the draft.
They’ve had a few years training;
And now really know their craft.

The siren sounds, the crowd cheers;
Umpire, good bounce!
The two ruckmen go at it,
And I see young Heppell pounce.

A quick kick inside the fifty;
It’s Michael Hurley for the mark.
But instead it’s a punch from Shaw,
Still, that was a good Bombers start.

Good decision-making Jobe;
That boy really is quite wise.
Impressive player, just like his dad;
Hope he plays like that against the pies!

For the next twenty minutes,
The two teams go goal for goal.
The bombers are confident,
But these Giants too are bold.

The siren sounds for quarter time;
And it’s a quick visit to the gents.
To discharge that last coffee;
But I still feel very tense.

Quick visit to the bar,
To grab some extra beers.
Just in time to see a goal;
Great work from that young Pears!

A clash of heads, that looks bad;
They have both hit the floor.
Hard to see. Was that Goddard,
And perhaps young Tim Mohr?

Goddard’s up and got the ball;
But he still looks a little faint.
Perhaps we shouldn’t have stolen him
From the mighty St Kilda Saints.

The next hour really is a blur,
As the teams go blow for blow.
One on atop, then the other
The Momentum ebbs and flows.

The giants young mids,
Are clearly getting on top.
Smith, Congilio, Scully;
And that Greene is hard to stop.

But we have our share of stars,
Pushing back the flow.
Chappy, Old man Fletcher;
And up forward there’s young Joe.

What’s this! A snap on the run,
We’ve nearly spilt our beers!
Scores are now 19.13 all;
This is the best game in one hundred years

The final siren sounds,
The scores are still the same!
Don’t tell me it’s a draw,
and that’s the end of the game?

Players offer interviewers
One cliché, then another.
Like ‘A week at a time’
Or ‘we did it for each other’.

Now a Melancholic lot,
We all quietly head for the door
Wearing Black, red or orange
Collectively we are sore.

How are we supposed to feel?
Happy? Sad? Just raw?
It’s another cliché,
‘But no one wins when there’s a draw’.

Head to the Hotel in the East
For a beer to  commiserate
Fans of all colours and creeds
The pain they obliterate.

New friends are made, and
We’ll do it all again next year.
Canberra, raise your voices
And give Manuka a cheer!


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2 thoughts on “Ode to Manuka”

  1. What a great yarn, sums up Aussie Rules and the changes to our historic Manuka oval. Loved your effort. Thanks James

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