Our battle cries sounded through the sunny, late morning hours in St. Kilda on Sunday, the 11th. We saw it live, the Saturday night Michigan game at the big house.
Our story begins.
We do not get cable tv and the only free-to-air sporting events we’ve seen are heaps of Aussie rules footy, rugby, tennis and Motorsports. For weeks we casually searched the internet for ways to watch Michigan football in Australia. Using Skype to watch a TV in the US was one suggestion. Listening to live broadcasts on the Michigan website was another. A few fans posted on forums wanting to start a college football watch group with a slingbox, which links to your home TV in the states. None were Michigan fans plus we have 2 children in tow.
The first night game was only a few days away and still no plan. We knew this could be our only chance to see a game live. A 24 hour sports bar at the Crown Casino in the CBD most likely wouldn’t work with 2 small kids, but it was our plan b, c, d and e. Plan A was to find a sports bar open at 10am on Sunday in St. Kilda.
Sunday morning arrived. We spoke to my brother and sister-in-law who drove to Ann Arbor from Jersey. We could hear the excitement in their voices and in the background. How could we be missing this?
Yes, we missed something. Michigan v. Notre Dame was going to be on ESPN live in Australia. After discovering this fact my husband showered and silently snuck out the door in 10 minutes.
The kids put on their oversized Michigan gear. We packed up pb and j sandwiches, activity books and the portable DVD player, got the bikes ready and waited to hear from Daddy. He found a pub, the Village Belle Hotel.
Away we went, to the corner of Acland and Barkly Streets. We found my husband silently drinking a beer alone in a large corner section of the bar. He was watching a large TV without sound. (Apparently, he wasn’t alone as others were in the back room playing the slots on Sunday morning, but that’s another post entirely.)
We brought our kids (and their bikes) into the local, dingy bar and set up camp with a few raised eyebrows from the bartender and locals. The kids dove into their sandwiches and fresh croissants, chanted “go blue” and enjoyed the flashing lights of betting machines. It was 10:30am on a Sunday and I was drinking beer, a $10 Aussie pint to be exact.
No one else knew what was going on in our corner room in the pub, but those locals milling around the bar (waiting for rugby world cup play to begin) respected our love of sport, a true Aussie tradition. No one walking down the street in the sunshine knew we were witnessing Michigan history. Minus the plastic cups of Labatts, the lawn chairs, the bratwursts and the long waits for port-a-potties we still had a good time.
Without sound, we heard those Michigan fans from across the globe. We heard the band, the announcer, the gasps, the sighs and the fluctuating heartbeats of 114,000 people in the stands. We chanted. We stood up. We high fived. We stomped. Hopefully, those fans heard us too.
*Thank you for reading yet another long post. I am not a Michigan Alumnus, but a fan. My husband and brother are alumni. We have family in Michigan and my father grew up there as well. I’ve been wearing maize and blue since childhood and lived in Ann Arbor for 18 months. Here’s my shout out to my fellow University of Maryland Terrapins, “Go Terps!”