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Monday, September 10, 2007

The Storm, final-ly

Hopefully, this post marks a more consistent return to the blog. The last three weeks or so have been plagued with ill health in the form of a severe case of the flu - in spite of the annual injection back in April which usually keeps the nasty stuff away.

Yesterday was a boost because it marked the 1st Qualifying Finial for National Rugby League (NRL) Minor Premiers, the Melbourne Storm who played the Brisbane Broncos at home at Olympic Park in Melbourne. How prescient then is the Photo Friday choice of a topic, Purple.

If the Storm had lost yesterday, this would have been their last game in Melbourne this season. This meant that this could be the last time that we would get to see Matt King play in Melbourne before he leaves for England to play for the Warrington Wolves. If the Storm were to win yesterday, then they would be rewarded with a week off and then yet another home final in Melbourne the week after.

And the purple, blue and gold won yesterday in no uncertain terms - defeating the much-depleted Broncos 40-0. This was the grudge match after Melbourne, 2006 Minor Premiers, was defeated by Brisbane in the Grand Final. This was the opportunity to have a finals play-off between Melbourne and Brisbane and Melbourne made, as well as scored, its point. For Melbourne supporters, the atmosphere was pure grand final. Most of us won't get to Sydney. If things had gone awry, it would have been the Storm's last hurrah in Melbourne for this season. So Storm fans made the most of it.

First, there was the waiting. The 4pm start meant that the game took place on a beautiful Melbourne spring afternoon - with a light breeze, enough to tip footballs over before the boot could reach them and flutter the tall, welcoming flags.

Olympic Park, Richmond, looking north-east

Olympic Park, Richmond, looking north-west

The crowd waits in the Eastern Stand

Purple, purple everywhere

The scoreboard welcomes everyone

The fans are ready...

...banners unfurled

The Brisbane Broncos warm up...

...and so does the Melbourne Storm

Storm supporters are warmed up too

Then there's the waiting: cheerleaders wait, the banner handlers are at their ropes, the crowd waits...

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At last, the banner goes up,

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

followed by the Storm

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
and at last the game is on, the crowd urges the Storm on and excitement reigns...

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and for one person it was all too much and he streaked across the ground from south-east into the arms of policmen at the north-west end.

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Daily Telegraph photo by Phil Hillyard

The Storm won in grand fashion - actually, grand final fashion.

On Sunday 23 September they will play the winner of the forthcoming Eels-Bulldogs match at Telstra Dome here in Melbourne, Storming to the Grand Final in Sydney.