Having a couple of days away from home, at the moment, at a mate’s place in Sydney. It’s been good. Yesterday, picked up from Hornsby, a drive over to Castle Hill, lunch, then home in time to watch the replay of
Australia’s win over on Tuesday night. After that,
another drive over to Baulkham Hills, where my mate’s boy does community radio,
and I get to wander around the park for half-an-hour and take photos. (I
remember the area seeing it was so close to where my aunt used to live, and had
taken pictures there on a couple of occasions, that and I played a soccer match
there back in 2013.) We return home after that, order Chinese, and we proceed
to watch two more AFC matches. Oman
Today, not much. An hour drive over to Carramar, for lunch at Sizzlers. (Man, I’m surprised they still have restaurants open. Must’ve been twenty-something years since I last ate in one of those.) Along the way we pass other grounds that we’ve played at. Then we call back in at a neighbouring shopping centre, where I compare prices on the camera that I’ve had my eye on, and a slide/negative scanner. In the end, I discover that the cheapest place to buy it was online, and that the scanner I’ll leave until later.
Now, just rattling off this, seeing there’s an hour or so to spare. We don’t have much planned for the rest of the day, except watch a couple more AFC matches. On our drives over the last couple of days we actually talked quite a bit about it. Last Saturday (Jan 10), I decided that I was going to see a game, so I just picked one in
and bought a ticket for it. I ended up seeing Sydney Uzbekistan
With a concession, I ended up paying a measly $21 for it, this included the
booking fee and a small donation to a charity. North Korea
My thoughts? It wasn’t the best game of football that I have seen. Mind you, it wasn’t the worst either. I was surprised to see a crowd of just over 12,000 there for a neutral match, with most of the crowd indeed being neutrals. I noticed Wanderers and Sydney FC supporters in attendance, and of course, I was sporting my Mariners colours as well. What saved the game, believe it or not, was the torrential rain that enveloped the arena around half-time. The game opened up in the second half, both sides started passing it about more, and the only goal of the match was scored. The game could’ve ended in a draw, with the Koreans denied an injury time equalizer from a corner by the hand of the Uzbek keeper.
This game though, raised a question. Not the actual game itself (although, after watching Nth Korea go round twice, one wonders how they managed to qualify in the first place – their passing, at times, is atrocious – what you would expect from a pub side on a Sunday afternoon after they’ve had a few, though they did start well in the first half hour in against Saudi Arabia in their second match), but as to why was this game played at Stadium Australia in the first place.
Let’s look at the venues being used for the tournament. (Interesting to note, because of AFC sponsorship rights, all the stadiums revert back to their non-corporate names.)
Sydney’s Stadium Australia – 84,000Newcastle Stadium – 33,000
Brisbane Stadium - 52,500
Canberra Stadium -25,011
Melbourne Rectangular Stadium – 30,050
Apparently, when the stadiums were selected to host matches, they were meant to have a MINIMUM of 30,000 capacity, which is why Central Coast Stadium didn’t get a match, seeing its capacity is 20,059. (Much as I’ve tried, I can’t find a document to support this. However, I did find a 2007 FIFA document, Football Stadiums: Technical Recommendations and Requirements, which should be found easily enough with a Google search, on page 26, section 1.1 Pre-construction Decisions “…but if developers hope that the stadium will be used occasionally for major international football events, minimum capacities of 30,000 will need to be provided.”)
To counter that, in 2003, CC Stadium played host to three Rugby Union World Cup matches, including the rather enjoyable USA vs Japan match which drew a crowd of 19,653. In 2008, it hosted the Fiji vs Scotland match in the Rugby League World Cup, a game won by the Scots in the last couple of minutes. (I attended both of these matches.) So, CC Stadium, good enough to host top flight League and Union matches, but not soccer it seems.
So, looking at that, why wasn’t Subiaco (Perth – 42,922 capacity) and Adelaide Oval (33,597) given games? (One must think it’s purely logistics.) If the minimum of 30,000 is correct, why was Canberra given games and not Carrara (Gold Coast – 25,000)?
And if Football Australia was out to make money off the home team (and one should assume that they are), why hold their first match vs Kuwait at the Rectangular Stadium, and not at Docklands in Melbourne (53,359) or the MCG (100,024)? Or did they somehow know that they were only going to get 25,231 to the match?
Ticket prices may have something to do with this. The cheapest tickets for the opening match ($34.50) was more expensive than any other ticket for non-Australian group matches. And you could’ve only got a concession for the cheap seats. This was the “inspiration” for me to go see a random group stage match.
I also ask, why are matches like Uzbekistan vs Nth Korea being played at Stadium Australia? The Uzbekistan fans, though noisy, could not make up for the fact that the stadium was about 80% empty (Crowd – 12,078). At the Sydney Football Stadium, with a capacity of 42,500, it would’ve been a much better atmosphere, much closer to central station, and decidedly more central, which could’ve attracted more fans.
Anyway, bitching aside, I’ve enjoyed the AFC so far. The games that I have watched, either on the telly or at the ground, have been good to watch. (I would’ve attended a second game, Palestine vs Japan at Newcastle, but was invited to go to Sydney for the day so I didn’t make. More on that later.) Australia, with two solid wins under their belts, can still improve, but it’s good to see different players scoring goals, and not having to rely on Tim Cahill for them. I still think Japan will win it the event, but gees, I really do want to be proved wrong! J
I should add, interesting to see the commercials of the tournament’s sponsors aired at the match that I attended. The Family Mart one (that for a chain of supermarkets across south-east Asia) featured floating supermarkets. I couldn’t find that particular ad on-line, but I did find the one for Saison Card. Even in Japanese it’s still good to watch, though you might need to find an English translation for it.
So, what else have I been doing? The camera has been out with me for a few walks. The biggest one being a 8.5km new year’s day stroll through the neighbouring Rumbalara Reserve, made longer (and tougher) by going the back way through Springfield (mostly uphill) to get to the Mouat Walk, which features a statue of Edward John Eyre, an Australian explorer, the fourth such statue in the reserve and the only one that I hadn’t already photographed. The walk saw me exit out the back of North Gosford, which I subsequently walked through to get back into Gosford, before taking a bus home. Over 500 shots taken on that day, with the highlights being able to capture a series of shots of male and female cuckoo doves, and getting a reasonable shot of a juvenile firetail.
I must say, it made up for a rather dull Xmas and New Year’s Eve, Xmas up at my sister’s especially. Sitting around watching everybody else accessing their Facebook pages, playing the X-Box, Skyping, or watching TV isn’t my idea of a good time. Just as well I took a book with me. I wish I had taken my laptop. (The slide-show, by the way, after all that effort on my behalf, fell through, thanks to the light-bulb in the forty year old slide projector blowing.) I did make up for it by getting some nice shots of Crangan Bay on Xmas day.
On Monday (12 Jan), I was invited to go into Sydney by one of the comic book store gents. The trip had us visiting a discount book shop, a rather good toy shop in the QVB (Queen Victoria Building), the State Library, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Martin Place. I had been wanting to do a little trip down there to get some shots of the site that dominated the news just before Xmas. (And still is getting some news, including this item about retailers around there awaiting a government decision about insurance and that one of those killed during the siege was struck by a police bullet. Even religious politician Fred Nile is adding his five cents worth about those escaping the siege not being worthy of a bravery award.
Photography aside, I have been managing to get some work done on Feudball 2, but not as much as I’d like. I’m soldiering on through chapter twenty, and I really want to get it finished before I head off to Can Con next week. I have also been doing some reading as well, getting through a few graphic novels, such as the first volume of Sin City, the first volume of the Sons of Anarchy comic (reasonably good I should say), and the first four volumes of the US comic version of Judge Dredd. Must say, some of the stories are okay, even the artwork has been passable (though not as good as the 2000AD stuff I used to read), there has already been appearances of villains The Angel Gang, Judge Cal and Judge Death plus the ever delightful Judge Anderson has turned up. I’m trying to figure out when in the JD time-line the stories are actually set however, seeing Judge Cal is currently working in the SJS. I didn’t think Death turned up until much later, with Anderson a veteran and not a newb. Perhaps I should put it down as an alternative universe.
What I really did enjoy though, was a hardback edition of JD up against Predator and Aliens in separate stories. The Predator story I had read before, in the JD Megazine I believe, but the Aliens one was new to me.
Well, I must say it’s getting late. This post has taken a considerable amount of time, but it has been interrupted by a stroll around Kellyville, dinner, and two more AFC matches. Tomorrow, I have to head back home, where I’ll be kick-starting my Blood Bowl season, getting some league matches out of the way before heading off to Canberra for the nationals.
So, on that note, ciao!
P.S: I've even found the time to retrieve my entries from last year's Small Art Prize competition last Sunday. (Jan 11) With nothing else better to do that day, I even went on a stroll through Gosford in the rain, and took a few more shots before having lunch at the club. The beef lasagne I had was worth getting a little damp for!