Rabbitohs VS Storm Part I: Meeting the Maltese Falcon

ANZ Stadium as seen from The Brewery

ANZ Stadium as seen from The Brewery

It had been one week since my inaugural visit to ANZ Stadium, where I saw my very first rugby league match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters.  It was the deciding Minor Premiership, and the atmosphere was nothing short of electric.  Sadly, the match did not go the way I wanted it, and I had to endure a lengthy train ride back to Town Hall station filled with smug Chooks fans who kept giving me and my Rabbitohs friends the business.  And by that, I mean reminding us that we hadn’t won a Premiership since 1971.  Not cool, Roosters!  Suffice it to say, I was sort of licking my wounds, and silently weeping.  Of course, I was determined to not let it damper my vacation; I had just experienced one of the greatest spectacles in sports!

Thanks to the support of my new bunny friends, especially my Rabbitohs/Giants friend Bill, I was able to score a ticket to the first qualifying match of the 2013 postseason.  During the train ride, I was pumping Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger and Eminem’s Lose Yourself into my ears from my iPod; nothing like some inspirational music to pump you up for an epic showdown at ANZ.  Once the train pulled into Olympic Park, I made my way through the station, and towards The Brewery.  That’s when I spotted a TV camera and a man with a microphone; not wasting a second, I unraveled my poster, in order to get their attention.  The two men from Channel 7 saw my poster, and it was at that moment, I got my 15 minutes of fame!  Or rather, 5 minutes of camera time!  The two men interviewed me, and were indeed surprised to see an American at such a match, let alone one with a passion for the red and green.  I managed to make it through the interview without stammering or fainting, and before I knew it, I was more famous down under than I was in America.  If everyone at the first game was psyched to have met me, imagine what they’ll say after they saw me on the evening news.

"Drink up, you Bunnies!"

“Drink up, you Bunnies!”

Over at The Brewery, where I promised to rendezvous with Bill, I managed to run into my old twitter and Facebook fans instead.  One of my followers named Michelle, had a surprise in store for me.  She, along with several other Rabbitohs fans, had organized several tickets for tonight’s match, including an extra stub for me!  To say that these Australian bunnies are among the kindest group of fans, is an understatement!  I received a shirt off a guy’s back, several beers, and a free ticket!  I’m just gonna say it: Rabbitohs fans rock!  Of course, Bill told me he had a ticket for me, but I couldn’t help but accept that extra stub.

In between sips and snapping pics, I was in for another big surprise.  One of my friends alerted me that Rabbitohs great Mario Fenech was over by the ticket windows doing an interview.  Not wanting to miss this opportunity, I grabbed my poster as I struggled to control my heart rate.  Mario Fenech is a big celebrity among the Rabbitohs.  As the former captain of the team from 1986 to 1989, he last led the team to their last minor Premiership in 1989, and is considered by many Aussies to be one of the greatest rugby league players, ever!  To meet him is considered an honor, especially if you are a fan of the Bunnies!  Although I was a newbie to the world of the NRL, that did not stop me from introducing myself to him.  Trying hard not to blush, or curl me feet, or do anything cliché that people do when they’re shy, I took a deep breath as I bravely approached the Maltese Falcon, as so many refer to him as.  I had been following him on Twitter, months before my arrival, and I had received a few shout outs from him, including ones where I posted pictures of my poster.  As my friend introduced me to Mario, I stepped forward, mustering every ounce of courage I could.  It is often said that one should not meet their heroes in person, for fear that you will only be disappointed.  That would not be the case that evening as Mr. Fenech recognized my poster from Twitter.  That poster of mine became a magnet for attracting attention down under, and thankfully the good kind!  I quite honored to shake his hand, and he must have felt the same; to meet a big bunnies fan, who came from so far away to see a match of such caliber.  After all the pleasantries, I graciously asked him to sign my poster, to which I gleefully obliged!  The ink wasn’t even dry by the time he and I were posing for pictures, courtesy of my Rabbitohs friends.  In all my life, I’ve never caught a foul ball at a baseball game, never been invited into the locker rooms, and never sat court side at a basketball game.  But this meeting with an Aussie sports icon was easily, one of the great celebrity encounters of my life!  Actually, a few years ago, I met Brooklyn Dodgers great Duke Snider, and got a baseball signed by him.  But now, I can add my autographed poster and photos with the Maltese Falcon to my list of sports greats!

Me meeting Mario Fenech

Me meeting Mario Fenech

"Can I get your autograph?!"

“Can I get your autograph?!”

Mario Fenech: The Maltese Falcon, himself!

Mario Fenech: The Maltese Falcon, himself!

One last handshake and hug, I happily ran back towards the Brewery.  But since I am a Rabbitohs fan, I should say that I “bunny-hopped” back to the Brewery!  And that’s just what I did!

Next time, I meet another famous member of the Rabbitohs.  I’ll give you a hint: he’s big, mean, and wears red and green.  He’s also over 6 ft. tall; 7 ft. if you include the ears!  C’mon now…

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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2 Responses to Rabbitohs VS Storm Part I: Meeting the Maltese Falcon

  1. Alisoun Brewster says:

    Ahhh–another exciting day–that was such a great story Jared—meeting Mario would be like me meeting Serena Williams–or Roger Federer–so cool! Couldn’t imagine! Loved the pictures too!

  2. Will Gotsis says:

    Another great blog Jared! I am so glad you got to meet the Maltese Falcon. He is certainly iconic/synonymous with the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Was one of the great nights and thank god you got to see your Beloved Rabbioths beat the Storm that night. One for the ages indeed…

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