Warriors Proud, not so proud of the beer available though

The next few posts will comprise my travel/beer diary as Bill of Beer discovers more of Australia and the beers they are brewing. This is the fourth in a six-part series.

Well, the day we all came for was upon us, the NRL Grand Final to see the New Zealand Warriors take on the Manly Sea Eagles.

In our eternal wisdom we had opted to take the scenic route into Sydney. So with our free public transport (included in our Grand Final tickets) we were going to catch a bus to Manly where we would board a ferry for Sydney and then jump on the train to whisk us away to ANZ Stadium. What we didn’t really consider was the thunder storm last night and the high winds may have whipped up the harbour crossing a bit. Half way across we realised the error of our ways; the big rolling swell tipped the ferry from side to side as we hung on for dear life and vaguely considered the welfare of the beers in the bag we had brought to tide us over on the journey.

Once we were across the harbour mouth into calmer waters the progress was much quicker toward Sydney but the thought of drinking those beers was much less appealing. In fact the thought of drinking anything and keeping it down seemed a rather ominous task at that point.

We had left home pretty early with the goal of attending both curtain raiser games that New Zealand teams had qualified for. It seemed as though a lot of Kiwis had the same idea and the closer we got to the stadium, the bigger the crowds of people dressed in Warriors supporters gear. I have to say I have a lot of respect and admiration for Australian league fans. I picked this up on previous trips where I attended a State of Origin and some other league matches. The fans I have met are more than happy to give each other a good ribbing as well as take it in a good-natured manner too.

After more than two hours of travelling completed, we emerged from the train station to the welcome site of ANZ stadium and hundreds of Warriors fans. As eager as we were to get inside to experience the atmosphere, we still had a couple of ‘roadie’ beers in the backpack to consume. Looking around, I spotted the perfect food match and ran over to order myself a McDonald’s cheeseburger. (Ok, so I didn’t give the match any thought at all, I just felt like a cheeseburger).

So close to the stadium, the excitement of getting amongst 80,000 rugby league fans was almost too much to bear, so I wasn’t really into dilly-dallying about and deciding how good my beer was, so it went down pretty quick. For the record though, I don’t recall the Mountain Goat Hightail Ale being anything special, but it still beats a Tooheys New hands down.

Speaking of Tooheys New, one of our options within the stadium was Tooheys New mid-strength. The other was Hahn Premium Light.

Two nail-biting contests between the Vulcans and Bulldogs and then U20 Warriors and Cowboys set the scene for the NRL Grand Final. The fans were all pumped, each side trying to drown out each others’s chants. It was such an awesome sight to see so many Kiwis there to support their team. I have to admit that by the time the Haka and God Defend New Zealand had finished, a few tears had welled up in my eyes. I’ve never been prouder to be a New Zealander and a Warriors fan.

ANZ Stadium, amidst thousands of Warriors fans

The final result today wasn’t what we had come looking for, but the Warriors can be proud of what they achieved in 2011 and they can be proud of the game they played against Manly as well. By the time the Warriors players had paid homage to their fans and left the field our end of the stadium was a lot less crowded too and I could see that more than a few mid-strength Tooheys New had been put away.

It was time to catch the next bus home, crack open a night cap and contemplate next year. Go the Warriors.

‘Beer of the Day’ goes to my night cap beer; Sleeping Giant IPA by Gage Roads (what a fitting name for a night cap beer).

Beers by order of appearance:

  • Hightail Ale by Mountain Goat
  • Tooheys New (mid-strength) by Tooheys
  • Sleeping Giant IPA by Gage Roads

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