Redfern Oval Part IV: Rabbitohs in the Rain

"Even on a rainy day, Sydney still looks beautiful!"

“Even on a rainy day, Sydney still looks beautiful!”

I have to say that even in pouring rain with a sky of grey, Sydney is still a beautiful city.  A deluge of rain beating down on the pavement does not bring a bit of gloom to such a scenic city.  In fact, in such a dry country, rain is often looked at as a sign of good things to come.  During one of my visits to the Redfern Oval, I had a most fortunate encounter that definitely backs up the old adage.

It was a rather grey Monday afternoon in Sydney.  There wasn’t much to do in weather this hazy without catching a cold, and I was already recovering from one.  I didn’t want to blow more money at the casino, I had already visited three museums, and I was trying to resist the urge to by even more souvenirs.  I had heard from my Rabbitohs fans that on any given day, one can see the band of Bunnies practicing at the Redfern Oval.  I had already been to two Rabbitohs games, met both Mario Fenech and Reggie, and saw a Juniors game at the Oval a week ago.  I figured, “Why Not?!”  I had also won over A$1,500 inside the Star Casino, so I figured I still had a little bit of luck left in me!

After finishing off a hot sandwich and iced tea at the adjacent Park Cafe, I walked a long and daunting twenty-one steps to the bleachers to see with my own two eyes, the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs in person!  Everyone, save for Madge, Mario, Reggie, and Russell Crowe were absent from the rigorous practice in the rain.  It didn’t matter as I was within mere feet (or rather metres!) from the most talented and fit group of athletes in Australia, if not the world.  On any other day, I would have felt totally out of place; watching a group of rugby players that I had barely knew in a land, far, far away from home.  But on this grey afternoon, I felt like the luckiest Rabbitohs fan from Long Island!  Then again, I am the only Rabbitohs fan from Long Island!  Or at least Rockville Centre!

"A healthy owsla, is a sharper owsla!"  Bigwig would be very proud!

“A healthy owsla, is a sharper owsla!” Bigwig would be very proud!

"An army of Australian bunnies!"

“An army of Australian bunnies!”

Like with most celebrity sightings, and I know that I don’t like to put athletes and celebrities in the same category, the Rabbitohs players looked much taller in person.  I stood in the wind and rain with my rental umbrella, nervously watching the bunny boys stretch and tackle.  I had just seen them put an upset on Melbourne just a few nights ago, and now here I was, seeing them train in person!  I saw the Burgess Brothers on the opposite end of the field run laps, back and forth, up and down the oval.  I saw Nathan Merritt practice kicks.  And for the record, the kicking that these guys were doing were so high, they could easily give the Radio City Rockettes a run for their money!

"C'mon, Bunnies!  Kick those legs!"

“C’mon, Bunnies! Kick those legs!”

By the time they started pulling in the tackling dummies and water coolers, I knew practice was ending.  And I knew that now would be a most opportune time to introduce myself as the loveable, yet loyal fan from America.  “I wonder if any of them would recognize me from either Twitter or Facebook?  Oh, man am I scared!  Make your move, idiot!” I said to myself as I saw the team heading down into the locker rooms.  It wasn’t easy as I could feel my toes curling up into my feet, not to mention I could hear my heart beat like a drum solo in a Rush song.  It was even harder because I did not have my iconic poster with me; I couldn’t bring it in the rain, now could I?  If there is one thing Hollywood has taught me about Hollywood, it’s that you should NEVER meet your heroes in person.  You will either be disappointed or heartbroken.  But this wasn’t Hollywood, this was Redfern, baby!  After blowing the chance to introduce myself to Merritt and Sam Burgess, I knew it was now or never.  I saw Rabbitohs hooker Jason Clark grabbing a few items, at which point I walked up to him and said, “Great game on Friday, mate!”  To which Clark responded, “Thanks, mate!”  Acknowledgments aside, I then finally blurted out, “I came all this way from America!”, I said with a burst pride, trying hard not to stutter.

Rabbitohs Hooker, Jason Clark.  I am truly honored to be among the Rabbitohs!

Rabbitohs Hooker, Jason Clark. I am truly honored to be among the Rabbitohs!

“Really, mate?  No way!”, Clark responded with a raised eyebrow.  Now that I had his attention, I went right into my brief story of how an American from Long Island came into the world of both footy and the Bunnies.  He seemed so genuinely interested in this nervous, yet enthusiastic long-distance fan.  I mean, for someone who came over 10,000 miles to see the Rabbitohs, he just had to hear out this fan!  Meanwhile, in the back of my head, I couldn’t help but think about how awesome this moment felt.  I mean, I had never caught a foul ball at a game, I could never get close enough to major league players without being tackled by thuggish security guards, and I don’t think even courtside seats at an NBA game could feel this intimate.  These guys felt so genuinely nice, not to mention they were huge, in both body and generousness!  Not wanting to keep Mr. Clark away from the team (after all, they had games to play!), I politely asked him for a photo.  He just smiled, looked into my iPhone, and gave me a most memorable photo!

I bid Mr. Clark and the rest of the team a sad, yet heartfelt goodbye.  For now…  My one regret was that I didn’t gather enough courage to ask Mr. Clark, I mean, Jason, if I could come on down into the lockers.  Alas, that would be a story for another time.  With the team safely under the oval, sheltered from the falling rain, I knew my time here was done.  As a shuffled off to the Redfern station, I couldn’t help but stare at the way the rain just gently dripped off the leaves, so elegantly in the rain.  Not to mention the sweet smell of eucalyptus and fragipani filled the wet air with a fragrance so enticing.  It may have been raining in Redfern, but it was a sunny day in my mind!


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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7 Responses to Redfern Oval Part IV: Rabbitohs in the Rain

  1. Vicki Hayes says:

    hey nice one Jared… did you know that Jason just married his lovely lady Lauren in Bali recently?

    A fine young man he is too. I hope he gets to read this. ‘Ive shared it to my wall and hope he see’s it as he is a friend of mine on FB and I have known his family most of my life :) keep up the great work Jared.

    • admin says:

      My pleasure Vicki Hayes! It is just my way of paying tribute to one of my favorite teams, not to mention one of my favorite things about Australia!

  2. Jared, it was a pleasure to meet you at ANZ for those 2 games. It was even better reading your stories of your time in AU and your experience with “The Burrow”. Hope to see you again. ps I’m the guys taking all the burrow pictures.

    Have a great holiday season and remember we only have 100 days before the next game (RTB).

  3. Joe Mancusi says:

    What a nice story, got a few goose bumps there. You really made the most of your time here in Sydney and with the bunnies, far better than I ever will. Very touching. Thanks for another good read.

  4. Alisoun Brewster says:

    WOW Jared–how cool–good for you for putting yourself out there and taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity–happy for you!!

  5. Daryl Clark says:

    Hi there Jared good story on Jace & yourself . I am Jason;s uncle and it was good to read about your time in Australia . I am SO PROUD of Jason !!!!.He has worked SO HARD to make his childhood dream come true . GO THE MIGHTY BUNNIES !!!!.Hope you keep supporting the BUNNIES ,2014 will be our year …take care mate .JASONS Uncle Dazz (Clarky )..

  6. Andrew Jarrett says:

    Jared, I love your stories of your trip to see the Bunnies. Bad luck you didn’t get to experience premiership 21. But as you know being a Bunny is much more than victories. The guys are great, next time you’re dont be afraid to even approach the superstars like GI, they all have time for the fans. That’s why we love them.

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