I had the lacklustre experience on Friday night of attending the “Super” 15 game at Eden Park, an underwhelming experience rescued only by the joy of seeing Auckland lose in the 79th minute.
After the thrill of the World Cup, it’s sad to see Eden Park and the local crowd back to supine normal. Like Russell Brown, I lament “the ease with which Eden Park has fallen back into mediocrity.”
The reality is that in the midst of the year's key professional tournament, Eden Park is hosting games without a clock or a scoreboard… The ground announcements are little better. A ground announcer's key role is to keep the crowd up to date with what's happening during a match. Yet players came and went without announcement during Friday night's Blues and Hurricanes match. I think at least one try-scorer went unacknowledged.
Yes, it was easier to see ads for the ground’s non-food than it was to see the score. And while the child-like ground announcer had nothing to say when he needed to, he did repeatedly find time to patronisingly demand “his” supporters “show some noise.” “Where are my Hurricanes supporters? Let me hear you. Where are my Blues supporters…”
There’s nothing like grown adults being treated like children to put you off your cheering game, is there.
The amateur-hour administration Russell documents is well complemented however by a crowd more interested in texting, talking and crowd watching than helping create an atmosphere; so focussed on the sideshows were the crowd that anyone lacking the power of sight would never have known by crowd noise alone the teams had even begun the second half, let alone that teams’ lines were occasionally threatened. Mind you, Russell again: “It's easy to feel detached from the spectacle when there's so little to connect you with it.”
Luckily however, I joined with friends Saturday night to watch on a big screen the launch of the AFL season, launched this year with a Sydney derby between old stalwarts the Sydney Swans and the AFL’s newest team, local rivals Greater Western Sydney Giants “starring” league convert Israel Folau (right). The game, and the viewing experience, had everything the live game at Eden Park didn’t.
Because there’s really nothing else in the world like live sport.
Except, sadly, when it’s at the Eden Park Home of Mediocrity.