Last night I attended the Toronto Downtown Dingo’s AFL Grand Final party at the Sports Centre Cafe, an annual event organized by one of the local Ontario Australian Football League (OAFL) clubs. Surprisingly there is actually a full league here in Ontario made up of of ten teams, some of which pilfer names and logos from Australian cousins, The Ottawa Swans for example, while others conceptualizing their own colours like the Guelph Gargoyles.
This is my third grand final in a different country in as many years, last year I was in London, the year before that in Paris and whilst each year I’ve been surrounded by Aussie brethren, and the past two finals have been absolute nail-bitter games, this year’s Canadian round takes the cake. It’s not that there were more people at said event, not even close, but this year was the most fun.
At all three of my O/S grand final appearances I’ve been flying solo and going by prior experience I assumed the night to run as it had previously; a few too many beers, some idle banter between unknown punters and the unusually warm feeling of being surrounded by like accents but this time round was a level above and beyond. There was no option for solidarity last night, should anyone have looked to be alone they were quickly met with a smile and familiar “`ow ya doin’ mate?” to the point that I actually missed the entire 3rd quarter chatting with a couple of blokes from Perth & Melbourne, one of which freakishly lived about two blocks from my old apartment in Kensington!
As a now self appointed “veteran” of overseas grand final parties there’s one element common to them all that I feel every Australian needs to experience at least once. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an AFL Grand Final, nor does it need to be in a particular country (well as long as it’s outside of Australia), pick any major Aussie sporting event to attend at any particular bar, pub, or even house that will contain a majority share of Australian persons, stand proudly and sing our country’s anthem with the upmost gusto spurred on by the chorus of fellow ex-pats. Maybe I’m just a sentimental, slightly graying, late 20 year old but that experience alone makes you truly honoured to be an Australian.
Oh and as for the game. Meh. Hawthorn won, I honestly couldn’t have given two hoots who won. Good on ‘em I suppose? Next up; find a place to watch the NRL final. Ca’an the Storm!