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Baking Matilda




Greatest sporting spectator moment!!

1991 Rugby World Cup, quarter finals, The Green and Gold versus Oyirland at Lansdowne Road. About 2,000 Aussies in one part of the stands, the rest of the stadium full of extremely well behaved but slightly inebriated Irish rugby fans, out for the craic.

As the teams warmed up, the whole of the Irish stadium turns to the 2,000 Aussies and sings Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. It was the start of a continuing trend throughout that momentous day.

Australia seemed to be all over the Irish green warriors yet every time we looked up at the score board, it was close, much too close. And then the unthinkable happened... Ireland from their own quarter line ran the ball (what?), put an innocuous grubber kick through (so what, David Campese was there?), somehow they muscled Campo off the ball (bloody hell!), picked it up (ummmm...) and their number seven (Gordon Hamilton) came charging through (the bloke's never scored a try before, surely he couldn't, could he?) and ran all the way to the try-line to score one of Ireland's most famous tries (farking hell, he could and he did!).

The whole stadium goes batshit, fans run onto the field, no-one cares, it looks like Ireland are going to beat Australia at home and go on to the semi-finals.

Then, with seconds to go, Australia run the ball, Campo looks like he's scoring his third try of the game, but he's tackled just short of the line, the ball bobbles out of his grip, it looks like someone has picked it up, the ref's arm kinda goes up, is that a try or is it a penalty, no-one knows, we are all looking at each other in the stands and you can hear a pin drop.

Then Michael Lynagh comes out of the scrum of players, holding the ball, going back to kick the conversion, he's done it, he has somehow, nobody really knows how, scored the miraculous winning try!

As my mate and I leave the stadium the Irish are incredible. It must have been so disappointing for them but you'd never have known. They are slapping our backs, congratulating us on winning one of the great Rugby World Cup games. We come out of the stadium, it's total bedlam, so we blag a lift on a bus that is going somewhere unknown. We see a pub that looks busy, jump out and stroll into a pub with O'shea in the name that has a covered beer garden out back.

The Irish are going wild, cheering madly and we look up at the TV screens to see why. They have the video on and they are replaying Gordon Hamilton's try, time after time after time. Gordon Hamilton scores his try, the crowd goes wild, we watch him running backwards, we watch him steam onto the ball, we watch Campo get pushed aside, we watch the grubber kick through, we watch the Irish running the ball from their own quarter - all backwards. The video stops and then we watch it forwards again whereupon Gordon Hamilton scores again.

He must have scored twenty times before they had to stop the video so the Irish band could start up.

The band are incredible and it is one of the great nights of my life. I imbibe a bit too much of the amber liquid, grab the microphone and insist on singing all four verses of Waltzing Matilda. The whole bar, it seems like the whole country, sings along to the choruses.

But the Irish have their own unofficial national anthem. They respond with a version of Molly Malone that still haunts me to this day, it's magical, her ghost seems to seep through the walls.

So, when I figured I needed some sort of Chief Baking Officer, something that would let people know immediately from a quick look, they were dealing with great Aussie pies, there was really only one option.

It had to be Matilda, the baking kangaroo, in memory of our greatest outback picnic, down by the billabong, under the shade of the Coolabah tree.

And if you put our pies up to your ears, you can still hear the ghost of the Jolly Swagman singing his most famous song, to everyone across the world (including Molly Malone) "you'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?".



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