Last night I headed up to Tripoli to catch a game of rugby league. The Lebanese national team was playing the Italians as part of the European Cup (don’t ask me why Lebanon is in the European cup). But given that 15 of the 20-man Lebanese squad are Australians, and a few of the Italians were as well, it was almost like being at home. I haven’t been around that many Australian accents for ages!
Of course this being Lebanon it started a bit oddly. As I drove up to the stadium 20 minutes before the game was due to start at 8pm, the whole complex was pitch black. I wondered if I’d picked the wrong night maybe, or perhaps the wrong stadium? No, just your run of the mill power cut – right in the middle of the under-16s warm up game!
The power was soon restored (it had been out for 30 minutes apparently, leaving the kids on the paddock to get up to god knows what kind of mischief) and I was into the stadium ready for some action. As kick-off occurred I was filled with fond memories of the old man and me standing on the hill at Leichhardt Oval, yelling our heads off to encourage Backdoor Benny (born in Tripoli), Blockhead, Sirro and the other Balmain cohorts across the try-line.
Sadly, there were no soggy hotdogs and plastic schooners of Tooheys New available.
Even worse, within about 30 seconds it became clear the game was a little one-sided. How shall I put this? Lebanon won 86-0. A close game by all accounts!