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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Go Pies

Now I would never call myself much of a football fan.

Not at all.

You can lump the NFL and the CFL into the ‘not a football fan’ category as well. I’ve just never been much of an avid follower… at all.  I don't understand any of the rules and could never really quite get what all the fuss was about.  Then there's AFL… Aussie Rules Football… I can confidently say that I know even less about this style of football than the others.  In fact... come to think of it... I don't think I have given the sport a second thought since I was last in Australia.

I forgot it was even a sport at all.

Seriously. AFL had completely left my brain until I was back in Australia.

When I was in Redcliff, Glen had thrown the AFL footy on the TV a few times… and I watched it… more out of politeness than out of interest. It just didn’t make much sense to me.  It looked like a big field mash-up of humans… with so many men on the field.

So many! I think each team has 18 men on the field at one time. That's a LOT. That doesn't include the referrees and the people running on the field to bring them water.

But… regardless of my footy game ignorance and my blatant disinterest, when Kellie texted and asked if I would be interested in attending a game in Melbourne, I jumped at the chance.



This was pure Australia! Nothing could be more Australia than Aussie Rules footy and attending an Aussie Rules footy match.  I was ecstatic to be able to experience it firsthand, despite not knowing the first thing about it.

Who cares? I was IN.

So ya... I was still in the Melbourne area, and after hanging out with Lisa & Tony, my next port of call was Kellie Watson. Kellie was another one of our 1991/2 AFS Ecuador crew. I hadn't seen her since I was last in Australia, in 1995... and I was so thrilled to be reuniting with her. I had tried to get her to come up to the reunion, but the timing hadn't worked out for her.

Shame. It would have been nice to have had her there.

Ok... I think I need to back up a tiny bit here.

When Lisa and Tony dropped me off after our venture down the Great Ocean Road, I met up with Bruce & Nancy, my old bosses from the Sasquatch Pub.  They were in Melbourne for a wedding and as luck would have it, we were in Melbourne at the same time. Odd coincidence considering I’d been moving around so much for almost six months.

We set our meeting spot at Southbank in Central Melbourne, and after quickly catching up over a hot coffee… set out to find a place with good food... and good wine.  It didn't take long as the promenade was full of cool eateries, and we quickly found a place where we could relax, have lunch and share stories of our adventures.

It was great to see them... and on the complete opposite side of the world.

I was set to meet Kellie around 1 pm... so after we finished lunch... I went to head off, but then we all figured that a pub would be the best meeting place. Funny that, eh? We hit The Duke, which is Melbourne's oldest pub... It rarely takes much convincing to get me to another pub… funny enough...

It was beyond fabulous to see her again. She hadn’t changed one bit and as soon as she walked in the door, I knew it was her. She was the exact same Kellie I remembered from so long ago. We have so much to catch up on. Like I’ve said before, how do you catch up on thirty years? It’s impossible. 

You don’t.

You can’t.

You just start talking and the conversation will roll along naturally... or it won't.

Lucky for us, it did.

After a couple of drinks, we said goodbye to Bruce & Nancy for the time being. They had signed up for a Yarra River cruise and Kellie was ready to show off her home city to me. I couldn't wait.

Well... it was well worth the wait. Awww, Melbourne. What a spectacular city! So vibrant and so lively. If I had more time, I would love to explore more of it. Definitely a reason to come back. Absolutely. Just like there was a Bee Gee lane in Redcliff, Melbourne has its own AC/DC lane, as well as an entire downtown full of cool graffiti, street art and artistic installations. SO fabulous. There was one lane, in particular, Hosier Lane, which is an ever-changing canvas for creativity.

We took loads of photos. Everything was dancing with colour.

It was hard not to.

Kellie integrated a little bit of culture and art history into the tour and took me through the National Gallery of Victoria to admire the assortment of art and sculptures. We even hit a little boutique tapas bar, Bar Lourinha, for snacks and another glass of wine.

No wonder I liked Melbourne so much...

Earlier, when we'd been at The Duke, Bruce had mentioned how much he would have liked to have gone up to the top of Eureka Tower to watch the sunset from their Skydeck, but unfortunately, tickets were sold out everywhere. It was difficult to comprehend, as it wasn't a particularly busy time of the year.

Kellie and I were determined to find tickets somewhere and refused to believe that it was completely sold out. We were met with much disappointment and there were no tickets available anywhere on ANY online booking apps.

Then we found a little unknown site... and much to our delight, they had tickets available.

Kellie bought them... with slight hesitation. It was a lot of money to spend on four tickets.

Who knows about these sites these days?

It's a crap shoot entering your credit cards digits into an unknown site.

It could have been a big scam... but it wasn't. It ended up being legit.

Thank goodness for all of us... and Kellie's credit card.

It could have gone very badly.

But... it didn't.

The view from the Eureka Tower Skydeck was stunning.  The observation deck was on the 88th floor and the highest public vantage point in a building in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pretty cool, eh?

There was even a bar!

From there, Kellie and I took a Melbourne trolley back to where she'd parked. The trolley was all part of my Melbourne city experience and I loved it... We were so caught up in the trolley moment that we missed our stop completely. I feel so honoured to have so many great friends in this part of the world. And everyone has given me a completely different experience. Nothing has been the same at all.

My heart is full and I am eternally grateful ❤️ ... and I still had an AFL game to look forward to.

I do have to admit, the cold was starting to get to me... and there is nothing I hate more than being cold. So many people keep saying to me, "You're from Canada. You should be used to it."


That is wrong.

I will never get used to the cold.


Especially that damp cold that chills you right to the bone.

That is the worst.

I think that's a lot of the reason I leave Canada in the winter.

In the morning, Kellie and I hit a few local stores to try & load me up on warmer clothes. I was seriously suffering in this department. I had lots of sundresses... and swimsuits... and cute skirts... and T-shirts... but none of that mattered anymore. I was freezing.

Once I was suited up with an abundance of pants, long sleeves, fleece, a heavy jacket, a down vest, mitts and a toque... we were ready to hit the MCG.

See...? I'm already using the local lingo.

MCG stands for Melbourne Cricket Grounds... and not only is it where the Collingwood Magpies play, but it's also where Taylor Swift played to her own record-breaking crowd. Three nights in a row... 96,000 people each night. Wow.

Kelly's family was adorable and I really enjoyed my time with them. Not only were they so incredibly hospitable, but they were heaps of fun. Her two girls decked me out with one of their Collingwood Magpies scarves, and along with my black ensemble for the day, I felt like a real fan,

They all had the player pins and their team scarves and fan toques... so with them... and my very own Pies scarf for the day, I was set to fit in perfectly. Then we hit the MCG to watch my very first Aussie Rules game. We did it in style... of course. In place of beer, meat pies & chips, Kellie and I had opted for artisan crackers, sushi and rosé wine.

It was a LOT of fun.


It was probably one of the best days I’ve had in Australia.

It was exhilarating.

I will admit that. I entered the MCG, very unsure about how I would react to watching a live sport that I really had no idea about.

Would I like it? Would I be bored?

Bored, I was not.

There was enough action on the field to keep me fully entertained for the duration of the game.

There were a few times I couldn't exactly see what was going on and I had to find the ball by looking at the screen.

So... the game.  Aussie Rules... more affectionately known as ‘footy.'

I had to look up the rules to figure out what was going on... and even after I did that, I still inundated Kellie with questions.

~ Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between the middle, taller goalposts (worth six points) or through the outer posts (worth one point). Players can kick, handball or tap the football, tackle and chase other players, and kick for goal from anywhere on the oval.

I guess I am now officially an AFL Melbourne Magpies fan.

When some of my friends found out that I was going to be going to the game and supporting the Collington Magpies, I was on the receiving end of some goodhearted league slander.

"The Magpies don't have any teeth."

"All the players just got out of prison.”

"Don't come to my house wearing those colours."

I also learned a new word… Bogan…

What is a bogan? It’s an uncouth or unsophisticated person regarded as being of low social status.


Maybe not me so much.

The yelling and carrying on of a lot of the bogans in the crowd was sometimes more entertaining than watching the match. We were down a few points at the beginning of the match... and things were looking grim. Most of the fans and the bogans were quite quiet... but the team eventually pulled it together to show me a little Collingwood magic and they ended up winning the game! I would not have accepted defeat from my new favourite team, attending my very first game.

Thank you for bringing me here and introducing me to the pure fun of Aussie Rules. What a fabulous day!

In honour of the day... I made a video... obviously...

This video ended up going slightly viral with all the avid fans and bogans and rivals.... Some people congratulated me on my choice of support... but mostly they berated Kellie & I for getting sushi.

Guess we're officially not bogans...

NOT bogans at all.

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