Australia 0 - Paraguay 0

I've been thinking about the fiasco at the Gabba on Monday, with reference particularly to the overkill of the security folk. They were,of course, practising dealing with inevitable Olympic football hooligans that the average person knows will be threatening the peace and well being of your average Brisbanite. I arrived at the end of an admittedly very short queue and had my two bags inspected. In the first were a couple of green and gold pom-poms made from crepe paper. The uniformed young women festooned with her credentials and ID badges glanced inside and called out "Streamers!!". Her superior rushed over and confirmed that streamers were, indeed, on the hit list of the inadmissible and went to confiscate them. I asked what would happen to them and was told they would be destroyed, clearly to prevent my menacing others in the future with an attempted repeat offence.. I explained that those very fading "streamers" had been admitted to many events in Brisbane since the Commonwealth Games in 1988 without, to my knowledge, occurring any injury to anybody. I said they were mine and I doubted they had the legal right to destroy them. One of half a dozen loitering police persons was asked an opinion and she referred the matter up to another wearing a couple of extra pips. He agreed it was very silly, but trotted out the Nuerenberg defence and explained that it was all down to the Olympic Games folk - now some perverse logic was emerging. He extemporised and suggested that my name and address and phone number (I wondered who was likely to ring me) should be placed on the bag and, after conferring with the civilian enforcers, made an executive decision on the run that I could return to that same spot after the game to reclaim the offensive pom-poms.

The first paramilitary inspector then looked in my second bag to discover my Socceroo green and gold wig and, to her credit, though it wasn't on her list, quite quickly perceived it unlikely to constitute a risk to either fellow fans or the structure of the Gabba and passed it. A bag of yellow balloons was not such a simple matter. "Balloons!" was called up the line of command, until the one with the necessary authority to do so gave a cheery nod, so that was OK. I dreaded the discovery of my rattle (temporarily bedecked in the Socceroo colours) as it had already been under threat from this young lady's ilk at Suncorpes a couple of times; but, and inconsistently so as it was the only thing in the bag that could have inflicted any kind of injury to another, it passed muster without any more than my identifying it, as did, to her undying credit, my raincoat and a few aged and lint covered mints that have resided in the depths of the bag for a couple of seasons. I suppose a well aimed mint, say to an eye, has more potential for damage than a crepe paper pom-pom, if you think about it.

By then one of the very junior minions had returned with a scrap of paper and a rather moth eaten biro. As this was a trial for the Real Thing, I hope someone noted this deficiency and has ordered appropriate quantities of paper and ball points for the Olympic football - if so then the trial run will not have been the total waste of time that it may have appeared to have been to the casual observer. I wrote all the details down and wondered if any of it would be entered into a database of hooligans such as has prevented some of the John Bull brigade from entering Euro 2000 venues, and just when I'd secured my tickets for the Brazil games too. I left the bag on the bench along with a small container of mobile phones - those aerials could be vary nasty in close combat - and proceeded through an electronic detecting arch such as they have at airports. It did not ring. Then a fairly large and insistent man ran over me twice, presumably as marked trouble maker, with an electronic paddle. I thanked for the second pass up my inside leg. To his great credit, he did not smile. I thought I was away, but, to my surprised delight, a very important person (he was in a well cut suit with only a small ID badge) came over to me and handed back the pom-poms and apologized for the whole affair. The senior policeman actually came and insisted that I witness him destroy and discard the little piece of paper with my details on it! Then I was allowed to enter the ground.

It had taken close to a quarter hour to enact this farce and the small queue had grown quite long with some little disquiet being express toward the back. Inside the ground I learned that some banners had caused similar anxieties to those generated my pom-poms and that the BSSA drum had been confiscated because it "contained metal", so if you are planning to take a drum to the Olympics, make sure it organically constructed.

By the way, if you can't get tickets for the Olympic football in Brisbane, but are looking for some entertainment on the first day Brazil are playing, why not make your way to the gate at the Gabba where their fans are to enter and watch the fracas as the security folk attempt to dissuade them from taking their usual paraphernalia into the ground - could be quite amusing.

Bad things -
The above
No publicity in Brisbane
$38 to see basically a NSL select XI who never looked like scoring and a Paraguay Don't Care Very Much XI who never loked like scoring.
The Gabba transformed from a lovely, tree lined cricket ground full of character to a failed mini-MCG concrete bowl look alike totally unsuitable for football.
A minute crowd scattered around a vast echoing empty bowl.
A $10 programme that didn't even list the players' numbers and so was totally useless.
Seats that were just above the level of the advertising hoardings so that there was no way of following any pattern on the park and even the ball was out of sight at times.
Only Fourex beer.
A large football that was pointlessly inflated and let down at half time.

Good thing -
No problem getting a place at the numerous hygeinic urinals.

Football was the loser.

written by David Marshall