Friday, 27 June 2008 9:59 AM
Last weekend about 60 supporters made the trip up to Canberra to cheer on South against the AIS. While about 30 either drove themselves or flew up, about 30 fans clambered onto a hired coach for the eight hour overnight journey to the capital for South’s first interstate game in four years.
Despite the climate control packing up early on, with frost filling up the windows, the mood was overwhelmingly one of excitement. Highlights of South’s 1990s years were being played on the bus’s DVD player, chants were belted out with gusto, as well as multiple renditions of Frozen Tears’ classic “South Melbourne”. Some people even managed to get some sleep.
The bus arrived in Canberra at about 7am, with a rude awakening for the travelers; it was absolutely freezing. A barbecue on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin saw the fans huddle under one of the park’s gazebos, trying to find some sort of shelter from the cold. A small kick around in one of the sunny spots also helped.
The bus then proceeded towards Canberra International Airport, in the hopes of greeting the team who were due to arrive that morning. Arriving just as the squad was about to leave the departure area, fans mingled briefly with the players, sung a few chants, then preceded for a quick tour of the city.
Arriving at Parliament House, and after having taken the requisite group photos under the watch of the Australian Federal Police, some supporters had a six on six soccer match on Parliament’s front lawn, while more highbrow fans decided to take a tour of the building. This was followed by a long lunch held at the Hellenic Club.
Leaving the Hellenic Club much later than the group perhaps should have, and not knowing exactly where the AIS’ Field 14 was, there was some light-hearted trepidation about missing the start of the game. As it turned out, they needn’t have worried. The game was delayed for some 20 minutes, as there were not enough pegs holding down the Field 14 goals. A shortened game of 40 minute halves saw South have the better of the match in general, but were unable to break the deadlock. The supporters were happy to get a point, but were quietly ruing what might have been.
At the game’s conclusion the players came over and high-fived and shook hands with the supporters, appreciative of their effort to make the long trek up. The supporters then got back on the bus, where much of the trip’s events were already passing into supporter folklore, and eventually the majority got at least some sleep on the way back.
Many thanks to those for organising the trip, as well taking on the driving responsibilities, and to the fans that made the trip unforgettable.