One of the downsides of living for so long in Australia as a patriotic, sports-loving Brit was getting used to losing. Pretty much all the time.
Sure there were some glorious exceptions – the 2003 Rugby World Cup (13 years ago!) and the triumphant Ashes tour of 2010-11 – but by and large it involved eating a great deal of Green and Gold coloured humble pie.
Cricket, Rugby, Rugby League. It seemed that every time there was a match-up between Australia and the Old Country, it was the aggressive, competitive Aussies who would ultimately triumph.
Despite the fact I have been back in the UK for nearly 4 years now, I still keep in regular touch with all manner of news from down under: general news, sporting news, celebrity news, popular culture news….
But every so often a piece of Aussie news finds its way onto my radar which strikes a particular chord and reminds me vividly of some aspect of the time I spent there.
During my time in Australia, I became an Australian citizen, thus making me a dual national and the proud owner of two passports to boot.
At my citizenship ceremony, us new Aussies got to sing ‘our’ national anthem (‘Advance Australia Fair’) for the first time – not as part some kind of test (“Get it right or there’s no certificate for you mate”), but more as a celebration of our newly adopted nation.
About 10½ years ago, on November 22nd 2003 to be exact, I joined 82,956 other people at Sydney’s Olympic stadium (I’ve lost track of which sponsor it is named after at the moment, maybe ANZ? …or possibly Telstra?) to witness the final of the Rugby World Cup.
The game between Australia and England was a classic – truly one of those ‘had to be there’ moments. It was eventually won by England, 20-17 in extra time, courtesy of a drop goal from the right boot of English fly half, Jonny Wilkinson.
Today it is March 28th – a date that will be forever etched into my mind.
The reason is that it was the date, in 2012, that I zipped up my suitcase and headed off to Sydney airport for a flight to the UK … only this time, clutching a one-way ticket and lugging all my remaining possessions with me.