Still Hate the Roosters (Part I): A Very Wet Bird’s Nest

"Rabbits hopping into enemy territory!"

“Rabbits hopping into enemy territory!”

What started out as a day of hope and promise, turned into a cold and wet night of heartbreak and deja vu.  I was shuffling my feet out of the steel bird’s nest that is Allianz Stadium; a place that would be now synonymous with pain, and I am not just saying this because it is the home field of the Sydney Roosters.  12 hours earlier, I had just touched down at Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney, knowing full well that I was in for an epic showdown that night.  Little did I know that I would experience what many lifelong Souths fans would be used to: disappointment.

I apologize if I sound rather bitter, but please be assured that it is not your fault.  I am merely working some frustration out, and this is a great way for me to channel these negative feelings.  It’s either that, or take out an uzi and climb a clocktower.  But I’ll save that for another bigger letdown.  Relax, I’m kidding!

It was one year ago that I made my long journey to Sydney, Australia, for the second time.  I had only one thing on my mind: the South Sydney Rabbitohs!  The most winning and oldest rugby league club in Australia had earned a special place in my heart.  Maybe it was the fact that it was a brutal sport whose mascot and symbol was a giant bunny rabbit!  Maybe it was the fact that I made easily made friends with the fans as I found them to be some of the coolest and kindest people around.  Or perhaps I look good in red and green?  The game last year was against their hated rivals, the Sydney Roosters or Eastern Suburbs.  It was a great game at the Rabbitohs home turf at ANZ Stadium, that unfortunately, resulted in a Roosters win; a come from behind win for them nonetheless.  A disappointing finish for us, but it was my first footy match ever, so I could not complain at all.  363 days later, I had returned with a new sense of optimism and hope beating like the thumping a rabbit’s foot.

Since the first game of the season was played against the Roosters at ANZ Stadium (as Rabbitohs tradition dictates), the second encounter would take place on Roosters turf at Allianz Stadium, which sits adjacent to the historic Sydney Cricket Grounds.  Since there was no train station nearby, I had a friend of mine from The Oaks escort me to the grounds.  His name was Joseph, and he presented me with a box full of Rabbitohs swag!  I gotta say, being an American fan of this team does have its advantages.  Since my first match, I have received a few care packages in the mail from Souths fans on Facebook.  Let’s just say that almost half my house is starting to look like the Souths store in Redfern!  But I digress.  Joseph and I sat in slow-moving traffic; we were sandwiched by multiple buses and cyclists.  The weather, by the way, didn’t help much; cold rain that seemed to pour unpredictably whenever.  Joseph and I managed to find a space across from the Cricket Grounds, and we were off to Allianz.

Allianz Stadium, also known as Sydney Football Stadium, is the home stadium of the Roosters.  One step past the main entrance and I was greeted by a sea of red, white, blue, and yellow chicken heads.  Something that shouldn’t bother anyone, but when you’re a supporter of the Rabbitohs, one can’t help but feel a tad nauseous.  It’s like when I went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park; half the souvenirs were all about hating the New York Yankees.  Blasmephy!

The Rabbit and the Dingo

The Rabbit and the Dingo

"Bunny and Booth"

“Bunny and Booth”

Bunny and Brigette

Bunny and Brigette

I searched high and low for The Burrow.  No easy task, as this was an away game for the Bunnies, and the trademark “The Burrow” banner was nowhere to be seen.  I did, however, have one thing with me: a brand new poster that I made to bring to the game!  Last year, I crafted a red and green tribute that I had autographed by almost every fan in The Burrow.  This time around, I had put together a brand new poster.  Not just as an artistic tribute to my favorite Aussies, but also as a way to attract attention at the game.  I mean, what other fan comes all the way from Long Island, NY to see a footy match?!  With my poster clenched in my hands, I followed the fans in red and green until I came across a large swath a singing Bunnies.  I followed a small group of fans across a corner of the turf (I got to walk on the grass of the field!) and up towards a crowd of Souths supporters sitting behind the goal posts.  My first sign that I was definitely in the right place came when one of my old mates from Newcastle said “G’Day!”  Darren, a loud but jovial fan pulled me in for a hug.  He was dressed in a black sweatshirt with the trademark white bunny on it.  Seconds later, the old gang from last year’s bout saw me and welcomed me back to The Burrow!  This feeling of camaraderie is just one of the things that make me proud to be a bunny.  These ragtag group of lovable, and often vulgar underdogs are arguably the coolest fans in professional sports.  And this is coming from a New York sports fan!  But when you’re from New York, being number one is something I feel used, especially if it is in the realm of athleticism.  Being a Rabbitohs fan means supporting a club that has both won more Premierships than any other footy club, but hasn’t won one in over 40 years.  It is both a fan favorite and underdog at the same time.

"I have returned 16,000 km to see my beloved bunny brethren!"

“I have returned 16,000 km to see my beloved bunny brethren!”

American Outside, Australian Bunny Inside!

American Outside, Australian Bunny Inside!

Bunny and Bill

Bunny and Bill

The Rabbitohs came storming out of the dressing sheds and tunnel, but since this was a Roosters home game, the crowd (mostly Roosters supporters), howled with a deafening “BOO!” that felt like nails a chalkboard.  I mean, listening to boos while Reggie leads the boys out of the tunnel and onto the field?  Blasphemy!

TO BE CONTINUED…

NEXT TIME:  I come face to face with a Rabbitohs legend.  This is one encounter that I truly will NEVER forget!

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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3 Responses to Still Hate the Roosters (Part I): A Very Wet Bird’s Nest

  1. Paul Condon says:

    Jared,
    Thanks for capturing our long struggle for an elusive 21st premiership. Hopefully a win for you to witness before you have to go, geez you may have to hang around till the GF.
    Just a thought, since you seem to enjoy the Sydney rail network you should take a ride to Katoomba , the Blue Mountains are very impressive
    Keep up the good work
    Regards Paul. SSTID

  2. Kathryn Simpson says:

    Well done! Love that your back & hanging in the Burrow!
    I’m in your clip too! I flipped you the peace sigh while talking to Dingo x

  3. John Fenech says:

    Have fun while you’re in Australia hope you get to meet some of the team could be difficult during the finals!

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