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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Another rainy Sunday

Ah, good (insert time of day here) to you.

Weather-wise, it isn't so good here, more mediocre, so from here it's mediocre afternoon to you.

One positive can be taken from outside though – for the first time in three days, it has stopped raining for more than five minutes. I can actually see little spots of blue peaking out through the clouds. The sun is even making an effort. I might even be tempted to go for a walk a little later.

And I'm not just talking light showers, I'm talking, at times, torrential downpours which came and went, easing off to a mere trickle before increasing in volume once again. It made work on Friday quite miserable at times, but as my co-worker commented once as I shuffled and tip-toed childlike between or through puddles is that some times, all you can do is laugh.

That's how I felt on Friday. With the rain coming in going, it made simple decisions, like whether to put on the rain poncho or not, difficult. When I'd leave it off, I'd get wet. When I left it on, it would ease off considerably to almost nothing. In the end I just left it on, even if it did make me look like a green jelly baby. With all the wind and the rain, we had to bypass a few outdoor stops, namely two beach-front cafes, and a bowling club. I wasn't going to leave papers anywhere that I couldn't leave in an undercover, secure area.

Despite the weather, we finished ahead of schedule, thanks mainly to getting a few of Fridays' stops done late on Thursday. (It does mean that we finish well after 5pm, but it's not as if I have anything else that I have to rush off to, eh?) We've been so good at getting these extras done that we have even added a couple of extra spots, taking over a couple that my sister had done.

Saturday, the poor weather continued for the big Mariners versus Wanderers clash. For once, the home side had a great crowd to play in front of. Nearly 19,000 people turned up, despite the rain, to watch a match that had all the hallmarks of a grand final. The result wasn't favorable to the locals, being beaten by a solitary goal which was scored in the last ten minutes of the game, but, in all honesty, we had plenty of chances, just couldn't take them. Our opponents really only had one, and they made it count.

Three matches in a row now, three missed penalties. Against Melbourne Victory the previous weekend, it didn't affect the outcome, as we cruised to a 6-2 win. McBreen's spot-kick was struck hard, and straight into the crossbar. It shot about 10-15 metres into the air, then came down in the penalty area, but wasn't finished off.

However, the next miss was quite costly. Against visiting Korean side Suwong Bluewings, Nick Montgomery was given the task of trying to break the deadlock late in the match after a deliberate hand-ball in the penalty area. He shot to his left, but the keeper followed it and he parried it away. The game, the first of the Mariners' campaign in the Asian club competition for 2013, saw them dominate the game, but unable to finish off any chances. As a result, a 0-all draw, and three points missed.

Finally, last night, the Mariners' get a penalty mid-way through the second half. (To be honest, I still don't know what it was for.) With an air of confidence, goalkeeper Mat Ryan comes from the other end of the pitch to take the shot. The kick, drilled straight down the middle, was stopped more by luck than skill, the ball almost squeezing through Wanderer's keeper Covic's legs as he dived to the right, but it was stopped all the same.

I guess it just wasn't meant to be our night. Dan McBreen went closer, striking one that hit the underneath of the crossbar, ricocheting down, but not over the line. (The replay on the big screen wasn't clear enough to determine if it had or not.) Another shot, in the first half, I believe from our NZ import McGlinchey, was thwarted by defender Topor-Stanley's outstretched foot (much like Pedj Bojic had done in the 2-0 win over the Wanderers at Parramatta stadium earlier in the year).

I'm sure now the Australian football community will take the Wanderers seriously now, if they haven't been already. They now sit on top of the ladder, the Mariner's very healthy goal-difference counting for naught in second place. I think they'll be the grand finalists this year, and it'll be a hell of a match.

Every time I go to the football, I get opportunities to study other members of the human race at great lengths. (Perhaps I should've taken up anthropology?) In the crowd, waiting for the gates to open, I see hundreds of people wearing Mariners' yellow, or the red and black of the Wanderers. To fit in, to be able to justify themselves they take one side or the other, and display it in colour. It then becomes a simple case of “us and them” - you're either in our tribe, or theirs. Individuality disappears and you just look like everybody else.

For the whole, the visitors were generally well-behaved. However, one or two conspired to light up flares before and during the match (about five went off I believe) which, I must say, I find quite strange. One, it means that security hasn't done their job and prevented them from being brought in. Two, lighting them can be quite hazardous in enclosed areas. They generate a lot of heat, they stink, and if the weather is dry, if they're dropped, a fire could well be started, considering the amount of rubbish fans will drop between seats during the game. Three, the flare itself could burn the holder or someone nearby if waved about. Hair does burn... Four, there's also the security factor – if you're spotted, you're removed from the crowd, charged, and fined. (Or that's what I'm lead to believe from the public announcements before and during the game, I haven't actually seen anybody evicted for tossing a flare.)

I just don't get it. My team scores a goal, so I must celebrate by lighting a flare and waving it about. Why? (The aspergers is kicking in here.) What about mimicking the players' on the field and pulling your shirt over your head? Or simply yelling out “GOOOAALLLL!” No, I must light a flare. It'll make me feel like a big man and my friends will love it.

Sheesh. Then there's the Wanderer's “Who do you sing for?” chant. I haven't got any problems with the actual chant (seeing a lot of clubs use it), but as I've said before, the sticking up of the right arm by Wanderers' supporters really does look like a salute – a Nazi salute. Can't anybody else see the similarity???

I like to see passion in supporting a football team, but not to the point of drunken hooliganism, flare tossing, racism, political, etc... That's why I don't get too worked up over my team now. If we win, good. If we lose, there's always next week. I enjoy my football, both watching and playing it, but gees, how many times do I have to say it is only a game, regardless of what promotional crap tries to build it up into a do or die, us and them lifestyle. The world has not ended seeing the Mariners lost last night (the first home defeat in quite a while I may add), Western Civilisation has not collapsed, and dogs have not started liking cats.

But gees, the boys really do need to seriously practice taking bloody penalties!

Crowds in general fascinate me, but I really don't like being in them. People are weird, like the three teenage wanna-be hooligans sitting in front of me who think it's funny to toss random bits of rubbish into the crowd and act like five year olds. Then there's the people, who, rather than go somewhere else to find a seat, prefer to sit on the steps and block the passageway. And a grandfather and his grandson just happen to do it right next to me eh? For the entire first half no less. People are stepping around them every five minutes, and I'm hoping that none of the beer carrying patrons slip and spill the amber fluid over me...

The most amusing (and sad) ones are those who trudge all the way up the steps 10-15 minutes before kick-off, expecting to find an empty seat (or four) undercover, even though the gates have been open for nearly ninety minutes. To save one lot's legs, I yelled out to them that the seats that they saw vacant were in fact taken, as indicated in hand signals from the gent minding them.

No, they proceeded up the stairs anyway, so that I could yell “They're taken” at them again, albeit from a shorter distance.
“They're what?” The woman replies as she's bending over right next to me.
“They're taken!” I yell a little louder.
“They're changing?” She responds.
“THEY'RE TAKEN!” I yell even louder, with my face turning red.
“Oh, they're taken.” She finally understands, and her party retreats.
“Am I speaking in a foreign language?” I ask as they depart. No response.

Then there's the kids. The stairs are a little playground, aren't they? One game is to slowly climb them, trying to extend your legs far enough so that you miss a step. This, naturally, creates a traffic jam. Another one is to walk down (or up) going from side to side in-between the hand-rails. The third one, is to vault them like you're playing leap-frog.

Like I've said on many occasions (not necessarily on here) – who needs television when you have this much going on around you?

During the past week though, I experienced some positive human behavior. On Tuesday, as I was nearing the end of the third walk of the newspaper deliveries for the day, I stopped near Gosford station to have a breather, and imbibe in some luke-warm water. Imagine my surprise, as I wipe the sweat from my brow and neck, when a woman walks up to me and gives me a cold bottle of water and says “It looks as if you needed it.”

I was naturally stunned. It was totally unexpected. I do know she came from the cafe close to the station.

So, to keep the good karma flowing, Friday night, when my sister came over to drop off her boy for me to mind whilst she went to work over at Woy Woy (it saves her a car trip or two), I gave her a couple of gift vouchers, a $20 one for her eldest, and a $50 one for her. (Belated birthday presents I said.) She's been doing it tough lately, the sales job at Duck's Crossing hadn't been working out, and I figured the card might come in handy. It's not as if I need the money, and I am getting paid again on Friday for 26+ hours work...

As you can imagine, with all the poor weather, it has been playing havoc with playing sport. For the last two weeks, my football team has had a training session and a trial match cancelled. I have been seriously wanting to try out my new gloves and boots ahead of the start of the new season, but the opportunity has not arisen.

It could well be one of those seasons where I'll be half in, half out of goals. The keeper that we had picked up last year, may not be available for every match, so yours truly has to step in. This creates a further problem, seeing that my “talents” are more useful in defence. And with one of the regular defenders also not available for the full season either, this puts a lot of pressure on my mate Rod, seeing we have no idea who'll be shifted to the backs.

So, just as well I've been keeping fit eh with all these newspaper deliveries, eh?

Well, whilst it's not raining, I think I'll take that walk. Maybe get a few more photographs. I did manage to prepare six entries for a competition during the week – but seeing it's in Bendemeer (a little village outside of Tamworth) it'll be fun getting them there.

Might have to make a trip up, eh?


[Around ninety minutes later... ]

Yup, distracted again. Found a little spot nearby that I hadn't ventured into before, and got some nice water-scapes, plus some good flower shots. Captured one or two birds as well on film, including great pic of a white-faced heron with his head facing right, and a seagull facing left, both standing on the same rock just a metre or so apart.

Would've been out a little bit longer, but, yup, you guessed it, it started raining again. That, and it was getting close to dinner time.

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