Mark Heenan 8 August 2006

By Mark Heenan Having arrived on the Gold Coast in Queensland on the morning of Friday August 4 for a short break, I was ready to lap up the sun and surf on Snapper Rocks – a renowned world class surfing break and home to the Quiksilver Pro – Event one of the ASP world tour.

The weather was pleasant and the surf was average, but it certainly wasn’t boiling. Enough to guarantee a good sun bake though!

It wasn’t until Sunday August 6, I was ready to make the journey north to the GABBA, where I was staying at the Bay of Palms resort (located behind The Pines Shopping Centre) in Elanora on the Gold Coast. I left my studio apartment at 9am that morning to catch the first of my four buses and two trains rides to the GABBA from the Pines Shopping Centre.

I waited for another bus up the road at Palm Beach, before being transported on that bus to Robina Railway station – the last train station on the Gold Coast to Brisbane line. It was about 10:30am now and the train departed several minutes later.

To my surprise I saw lots of AFL fans on the train to Brisbane, particularly Cats fans. The train made its way through nearby Nerang, Helensvale stations before it reached Kingston station further up the line – a town on the outer fringe of Brisbane. The train eventually stopped at Kingston due to maintenance works on the way to Brisbane and hundreds of commuters were forced to quickly to get on a coach bus before making its way to Coopers Plains station – an outer southern suburb of Brisbane.

Then it was onto an another train that took me to Southbank, in Brisbane, and it was getting close to midday by now. Jumped off the train and then took another bus to the GABBA – a couple of minutes away, with the help of some trusty locals!

I had my luggage with me too, so I thought it may have been a problem in getting into the GABBA for security reasons – but I eventually I got in and was quickly whisked up to the media area of the GABBA.

Enough about the game, it was tough, fierce and competitive, although I was in a glass confined press media box next to Dermie and the Channel Nine boys. I even bumped in Dwayne Russell in the toilets at quarter time and he gave me a nod. And was even surprised to see Aker at the game as he was on TV at half time being interviewed by Channel Nine's Michael Roberts. I couldn't see K-Rock on the press side of the ground, they must have been on the outer side commentating the match.

But I felt the need to get a feel for the atmosphere and I wanted to get into the stands and watch the game and took some photos. I watched part of the game from the stands of the GABBA, it's a bit like the Telstra Dome, only a bit smaller. The ground can be deceiving on TV because of its coloured seating right around the ground, but there were 28,055 fans at the game.

And more importantly the Cats won to keep its slim finals chances alive, which made the trip all the more worthwhile in the end.


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