The word that springs to mind is BIG. Remember this thing is 2.5 times the size of the Sydney FS. The walk from the Station was OK, it was the bloody hike to get around to the western side and Gate J (which seemed to somewhere near Silverwater rather than Homebush). Quite impressive with the 6 levels and the spiral walkways. We found the gate eventually and after a friendly Breakers or Spirit like bag check it was easy enough to slip the ticket into the bar code reader and be allowed access through the turnstile. Not many people going into that gate, esp. as the opening ceremony had started (more about that later). After the puffing panting climb (motorised wheelchairs only I would think!?) gave way to pointing percy at the porcelain - the toilets again weren't crowded - and a stroll along the fairly wide promenade to our aisle entrance. At that level there were fast food outlets and a merchandising stall. We came through the gate and an 'usher' was on hand to direct us UP. My goodness gracious me - we were in Gate J, Aisle 625, Row 32, Seats 56-59. This is Nose-Bleed Territory. Get an image of the roofs where they peak at the outside of the stadium - we were 30 or so rows below the highest point. The stairs are very steep. This was $69. The food was ordinary - from memory - chips $4, coke $3.20, Hotdog $4 - my daughter with the young legs for the stairs did the buying. There were some sellers of drinks, lollies, (and pies?) coming around. Next time - take your own but keep it compact. No problem with security bringing in food or plastic drink containers. No umbrellas, large bags, glass, etc. Didn't try to buy a beer - someone else can comment. The pitch was hard to judge from our height but didn't seem that bad - But should have been much better given where and for what it was.
On turning and sitting we could see the whole pitch, and the botton half of the two ends, the bottom 2 levels on the far (eastern) side, but not seating below the top level on our side. Men at Work looked like Ants at Work. The screen on the south west end, with a craning of the neck, could be seen, but only the bottom 2/3 of the north-east screen. The sound system seemed capable enough. I am not going to comment on the entertainment - I went fore the football. During the game it was hard to make out the players - yeah Jurgen the only blond on the Bore-Stars, and Vieri and a few others we could see. For Oz the camouflage kit at least had large numbers (but smaller names) so with those numbers remembered from the intro (the program had none) and the legth of name, plus familair walk etc., and glances ta replays, we made out most. The best thing at that height was that we had almost an aerial view - thus seeing the pattern of play really well.
Well without most of the marketing hype names the FIFA Almost World-Stars were mostly unknown to us, but they all seemed to be fine players and some of the individual skill was pleasing. The star as far as I am concerned was Lama (only 1 'L' Spirit fans!) from France. The half game he played was a blinder - keeping Oz out many times and stopping the Oz strikers from trying shots too early. Alas that was the problem as Kewell, Viduka, Aloisi, and Lazaridis all had good opportunites as we saw it from the air, but failed to put one on goal. Kewell was seeing a bit of the ball but was getting some heavy treatment. The World 1st goal goal was against the run of play but well taken by Yakin off a corner with the defence and Bosnich flat footed. Oz dropped off the pace and at half-time the points were pretty even. Our defence still seemed to be having formal introductions to each other. Fortunately some half-chances to Vieri and Klinsman didn't come off. Australia's goal just after the break by Zelic was the Zelic we know and love. Little free run through the middle - get in range - and 'ping' right into the top corner. Oz were well on top through the 2nd half until the usual last 5 mins sleepy-byes. The infusion of Aurelio Vidmar instead off Viduka saw much more mobility and variation up front, especially with Zelic coming forwward more. The Emerton goal was well worked, as were a few other plays that made Campos give his all (and led to an own goal). Finally the sheep scored from an acute angle on the ground (not Kalac territory!). Oz should have won about 6-2 but for Lama and the lack of firepower. The World was pretty disjointed of of course. I enjoyed it nevertheless. I will let others give the stats and player ratings. As Kasey relayed: Australia : 3 Zelic 46, Emerton 57, Margas og 66 World X1 : 2 Yakin 9, Rufer 89; Crowd 88,101
The atmosphere? What atmosphere? Leaving out the opening entertainment - bloody inflatable ballders for the so-called football codes - sheez! Half a dozen Mexican Waves before the game. We could hear singing coming from somewhere on the other side (east) but could not make out any words. Their was a small group in our tier doing the Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy, Oi, Oi , Oi chant. To the southern end there was some evidence of chanting and singing but we could really make it out. The sound level at Oz goal-scoring was not impressive. e acoustics (at least if you are in nose-bleed territory on the sides - is pathetic. The main abd consistent noise we could hear was a group of about 30 Spirit fans down 80m to the north and 58m elevation from us. Well done guys and gals. Tancred was that you? - you look so svelt from that distance! ;-) The only chant that the top tier west joined in was - "GIve us our ball back!" Love it! The national anthem was sung by many near us - you'd never know because again the bloody sound system was too loud! Also why couldn't they have done some sing-along stuff a la MCG? The crowd of 88,101 was 1. disappointing - I really wanted to see 110,00 there for football. 2. Not unexpected given prices. At say $100 for a family of myself, Joy and 3 kids I would have taken the 5 of us. As it was Lowenna was lucky it was her 17th birthday (and Owen his 15th for the Manu game!). There were almost no kids in nose-bleed territory. At the stations passing the lines of people - it was mostly Gen-X and Baby-Boomers. Few really young adults, kids, whole families, or retirees. Is this what the Stadium want? I blame Left-Behind-Promotions for stuffing up on ticketing myself! At least it would still have been to highest gats takings for some time to come. No free or $10 tickets for football!
Bowman's - did you ever make it? The Stadium had decided to open itself - not only 3 days after the grunters had their state of confusion game, but when the main northern rail line had track work. So we truned up for the Newcastle train at 5.16pm to get a bus 20 mins later which took us to Strathfield. Slipping past the crowd buying Olympic Park tickets we got to the platform and waited in a fair crowd for 10 mins. It was easy to get out of the station. Coming home however, we waited for the presentation, then checked the merchandising - pathetic - nothing other than the new Oz strip ($110, $90) - I don't count the Stadium Australia crap! Why no scarves )cold enough to sell well) or caps or flags? After another pee, we then walked to the station - arriving about 30 mins after the end of the game. There were long queues for eastern trains, none for western. Another planning stuff-up?! We waited I suppose 20 mins for a train. Then when we got to Strathfield we waited 30mins for a Northern line train. We left the stadium at 10.40pm and got home at 12.15am (to Epping - all of 8km).
Worth it for the occasion, to see a full strength Socceroo team, and for my daughter's memories. I wouldn't bloody pay $69 (+ +) again to see a match there unless: a) It was a full Socceroos team v. good opposition, b) It was a serious match.
PS. I didn't go to the Expo because - 1. I had a busy weekend (why not on Monday?) and because after the cost of the Game etc., it was hard to say the family budget should fork out for the 2 or rather it would have been 4 of us to go to the Expo. I would have sooner it had been say at the beginning of the EC season or something. How about a decent stand at the Easter show?