paddy-madden
9th February 2012

Sydney Swans are the team for me…

The first in a series articles from Sports Editor Paddy Madden as he looks at the Sports Scene down under from his Sydney base.
Sydney Swans are the team for me…

Manchester University’s study abroad programme and all involved with it are entirely competent when it comes to helping students adjust to the culture shock of a move abroad. Whether it’s how to deal with differences in language and culture to simply coping with home-sickness – the study abroad survival guide seems to have all the answers.
As I’m on the cusp of spending a term in Sydney, Australia, I was trawling through looking for last minute pointers when I realised a key chapter was missing. There was nothing about coping without the most important thing of all – football.
Indeed, like an infant torn from the maternal bosom, I am about to be dragged kicking and screaming away from my beloved Manchester United. As my plane disappears down under, so begins a 6 month break in our relationship – the longest we will have been apart.
If it wasn’t for the prospect of living in Australia, then the idea of eloping and missing the end of the season – and more importantly a trip to Amsterdam – would have been baulked at.
But as it is, last minute scrabbles for away tickets will be replaced with hunts for late night bars to watch the match – my seat in K-Stand replaced with a bar stool in ‘Scruffy Murphy’s’ or ‘Cheers Bar’ (The ‘Official’ Sydney City Supporters bar…)
The eleven hour time difference means watching most games will be a test of stamina – and whilst some of them will conveniently fall at the end of nights out, watching 4pm Sunday games at 3am on Monday morning is far from ideal.
This leaves me with a serious conundrum – how am I going to fill my Saturday afternoons?
I could go and watch Sydney FC – current side of former Feyenoord and Blackburn Galactico Brett Emerton. Their 45,500 stadium looks impressive but unless it’s a game against fierce rivals Melbourne Victory it is rarely at capacity. They also play in a distinctive shade of laser-blue, drawing one too many comparisons with a certain team from home to warrant regular visits.
One of Sydney’s premier attractions – the famous Sydney Cricket Ground – is the home of New South Wales cricket. New South Wales currently have a squad littered with Australia’s best – including Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Brett Lee – and have amongst their former players Glenn McGrath, the Waugh brothers and a certain Sir Donald Bradman. Illustrious, and an enticing prospect, but for fact the season is nearly over.
By the time I will have arrived and settled the Australian Rugby League season will have started. Melbourne is often considered as Australia’s major sporting city – but when it comes to League Sydney dominates, having 9 sides.
But if I was to spend my weekends watching the NRL I’d be faced with the political minefield of who to support. Would I be a Sydney Rooster or a Penrith Panther – a Manly Sea Eagle or a South-Sydney Rabbitoh? It’s a decision I’m not yet qualified to make.
Thus, it’s left to Aussie Rules – a mix of rugby, Gaelic football and bare-knuckle boxing- to fill the football shaped void in my weekends.The Australian Football League season starts on the 24th March with the New South Wales derby – Sydney Swans against Greater Western Sydney Giants.
I think the Sydney Swans will be my adopted side for the next 6 months. After all, they do play in red and white.

Paddy Madden

Paddy Madden

Former sports editor (2011-2012).

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