Big game coming up at the SCG on the 18th, comrades, and given there's usually a few questions on the message board regarding where to go and what to do when in Sydney, here's some tips I hope might assist anyone visiting my adopted home town…
As you undoubtedly expect, you'll be an almost solitary voice in a sea of red and white, but don't change your MO one iota. Still do your thing: be loud, proud, purple, red, white and green. To quote the late, great Douglas Adams, the locals are "mostly harmless".
And whilst they might look like a Sowfs crowd, on closer inspection nothing could be further from the truth.
They will have no idea what chicken salt is and are mostly pleasant family-types servicing a seven-figure mortgage on a five-figure salary, with the odd [email protected] merchant-banker thrown in for good measure. Rarely will you see them without a full set of teeth and they usually remember to wear pants. The literacy levels will be very high and most will carry a valid driver's license (or at least an almost undetectable fake).
With perhaps the exception of Mr Tippett, Swans fans are also equally, and commendably, proud of maintaining their famed no d*ckheads policy as they are of the club's Premierships. Success is measured not by winning a flag at all costs, but by the measure of how you go about winning it. I have thankfully yet to meet a Swans fan who bangs on about how many more flags they've won compared to Fremantle. They enjoy being under the radar and, like us, revel in schadenfreude when Vic heads explode after they beat them.
However there are also Swans fans who:
- Still call the ump a ref
- Confuse catching with the art of marking
- Yell "whooop" when a ball's thrown back in by the boundary ump
- Ask you in a straight face, "Did goal referees really used to wear long white lab coats and funny hats, and why?"
- Snag a free spot in a corporate box and proceed to face the other way the entire time, watching rugby on the telly or comparing Twitter followers
- Have a soft spot for Collingwood because they like their colours
- Think Freemantle (sic) is in South Australia
These poor souls deserve your pity, not mocking… Okay, maybe a little mocking then.
Most importantly though – and I can't stress this enough – they hate The Slime as much as we do.
Now… If you want to sit with your fellow supporters and you're a FDFC member, arrange tickets beforehand through the club. If you're not a member, still grab a ticket well beforehand as the major SCG renovations are nowhere near completed. You won't have any problems securing a seat, it's just that many of the prime spots have been grabbed by Swans members during the rebuild period.
Given this will be a big day, a big build up to the match is warranted, so here's some pre-match where to go, what to do hints:
What I tend to do is keep on the move in a kinda urban-guerrilla-AFL-supporter-style, occasionally stopping to re-hydrate and grab a bite whilst on the way to the game, then ninja-roll like a Docker small forward to the next venue. By checking out a few places, you'll be more likely to bump into the odd Freo supporter. Remember, though, even when the Dockers are visiting, large agglomerations of purpleites will be few and far between. Unless the FDFC organises something, there will be no preferred 'go-to' venue.
Whilst the suburbs of Paddington and Woollhara have many good options, and are very close to the SCG, venues there can be a bit snobby and full of look-at-me-poseurs. That said, the Woollhara Hotel, Paddo RSL, Imperial, and Paddington Arms are all fine watering holes. As are the Captain Cook and Olympic Hotels, which get exceptionally crowded pre and post match. As does The Local Taphouse, but it has some mind-bogglingly excellent beers.
For the LGBT gang (after all, this is Sydney we're talking about) you're going to loooove the Darlinghurst end of Oxford Street… Ahem, or so I'm told.
Kings Cross / Potts Point has plenty of options, but I don't like the vibe. Too many rugby league types, if you catch my drift.
I'm thinking as most Freo supporters will be heading out to the SCG from Central Station or the city, I'd recommend putting your comfy shoes on and spending some time wandering through the Surry Hills and Darlinghurst areas on the way, especially around Crown Street. You couldn't go too far wrong hereabouts, as there are a lot of decent spots to rehydrate and grab a feed, and it'll be a shedload cheaper than Perth watering holes. (I don't know how you lot cope back on the Westside massive. Last time I visited, the Mastercard maxed-out after buying a long black and a jam donut.)
Anyway, Google maps the hell out of it, and you'll find plenty of options, otherwise here's a few more suggestions in no particular order that go aw-right:
- The Dolphin Hotel – nice venue, excellent pub grub and they're not afraid to bung the real footy on the big screens
- The Clock Hotel – a huge but decent venue that's had another big refurb, and now has a nicer vibe
- The Forresters – good food, good drinks + cocktails, if that's your poison
- Excelsior Hotel / El Loco – I highly recommend their Mex food and margaritas – el sensational, cholos
- The Winery – bit exxy, and often too many hipsters, but good food and wine
- Trinity Bar – cold beer and honest pub grub, what more could you want?
- The Carrington Hotel – if you like tapas, here's your place
- Pizza e Birra – Best pizzas in Sydney (thin New York / tradish Italian style)
Us Sydney-based supporters really get a buzz when we see and meet the non-NSW mob visiting for these SCG games. So if you have the means, head over or up or come down, give us a wave and see you on the 18th in your purple best.