One of the four events I witnessed at the Olympic Games in Sydney was the hockey. I watched the Hockeyroos claim a victory on their way to winning the gold medal, and the crowd was constantly mental. It was one of the few times in life that I’ve willingly joined in the ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ chant.
So I was pretty chuffed to find out that the hockey tickets we purchased for London would have us see the Hockeyroos yet again. No Dutchies for Paul unfortunately, but that may have been a good thing. The only time when the Aussies and Dutchies play each other in team sports (on equal footing, football and cricket don’t count) is at the hockey at the Olympics. Paul was made to cheer for the Aussies instead on this occasion.
The hockey centre was our first taste of the Olympic Park. Contrary to what we’d heard, it was a breeze getting in, and we wandered around for a good couple of hours before being chased away by the rain. It cleared up slightly by the time we got inside the stadium, and our seats found us waaaay in the corner.
Noticing that a lot of sponsors hadn’t turned up, we swapped our dodgy seats for theirs about ten minutes in. The whole time we were worried that the people would show up, and we’d have to partake in the whole charade of ‘Oh, we’re so sorry, there must be some mistake… ah, that’s it, these are really good seats and ours are really bad seats’. The time however, never came, so we were happy.
Hockey really is one of the easiest sports to understand straight away. I hadn’t seen a match live for twelve years but I got right back in the swing of it. The first match was between the US and Argentina, and the Americans gave everyone a big surprise by winning pretty easily.
The Hockeyroos, meanwhile, had not started their campaign well and had lost their opening match to New Zealand, of all teams. They didn’t start well, but came storming home to win 3-1. My Aussie flag got a workout, but the ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ cheer sadly (or perhaps thankfully) never got going.
It was the first time I’d ever seen Australia compete in anything overseas (bar Wayne Arthurs at Wimbledon). It felt different, I would smile at random Aussies and I even got a bit of a tingle when the national anthem was played.
And the commute home afterwards? Well, the walk to Stratford almost took an hour, but I can’t complain, really, as it took us past this!