Return of the Raiders

Optimism wears many disguises but none so utterly convincing as the start of a new sports season.

Last weekend, rugby league got back underway in Canberra and, amid a sea of green polyester merchandise and a flurry of beer-buying, we were back at the Canberra Stadium, among friends and toasting the heady possibility of a winning season for the Canberra Raiders.

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Raiders for life

It started with a phone call from the Canberra Raiders’ Fan Engagement office.

“The final home game of the season is Members’ Appreciation Day, and we’ve selected 40 members who have attended every home game this season to form a guard of honour as the team runs out onto the pitch. Would you like to be one of them?”

Junior rugby players line the way from the players' tunnel to the GIO Stadium pitch.

Excited match-day mascots wait for the Canberra Raiders to take to the pitch. The cheerleaders proved distracting to one little fan.

I would, but I hesitated, because I knew someone who’d like to do it even more.

“Absolutely,” I said, “but would it be possible for my son to do it instead?”

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Bleed green: A season with the Raiders

Luck is a funny thing. When we first arrived in Canberra, last November, one of the things I was sure I’d miss most about Europe was football and supporting my favourite team, Liverpool. More than that, I was concerned that I’d struggle to fill the gap that left in my life.

As a potential solution – and as part of my policy of ‘make the most of your new life by trying new things’ – I signed up for a season ticket (known as a membership here) for Canberra’s local rugby league team the Canberra Raiders.

A shot of a Raiders game, from pitch-side.

The Canberra Raiders in action.

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