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On a pleasant July afternoon in Newcastle, I had the opportunity to attend the Newcastle versus Penrith match at Marathon Stadium and view the game from a box seat. Although my much beloved Broncos weren?t on show, I couldn?t pass up the option of seeing the game from a more cosy location than the old hill.
However, what I thought would be a quiet day at football turned out to be one of the most bizarre matches I?ve ever attended ? and it wasn?t what was happening on the field that provided the entertainment.
An aged, yet greatly passionate Newcastle supporter was sitting in the open-air box adjacent to mine. His name, apparently, was Max. Affectionately known to the regulars around him as ?Mad Max?, which I later found out why.
Max was upstanding in his box for the majority of the first half, screaming at the officials, taunting the opposition and heckling opposition fans. His consistent noise would break curfew laws in some areas and the theatrics for someone of his age truly had to be seen to be believed.
Try?s and goals to the home team met with a boisterous chorus of chanting and singing, accompanied by flying beer and wine angry fellow supporters sitting nearby.
Penalties against the home team were often moments to fear for your physical well being, as Max quite clearly detested the man with the whistle. Ballistic sausage rolls, chips and various other edible projectiles were the order of the day when the referee pointed his hand towards the opposition. Thankfully the portion sizes were relatively small, thus they were easily avoidable when randomly hurled in your direction and created minimal mess on impact.
After anticipating that the half time break would be a welcomed ten to fifteen minutes relief and relaxation, it seemed that we wasn?t going to be spared by Max and his unorthodox antics. Filled with what seemed like an endless amount of Hunter Valley Red, Max proceeded to the downstairs lavatory just underneath our boxes. What followed was a sequence of hideous, brain jarring choruses, tunes and chants, with the odd burp to boot, which brought on agitated moans from our section of the stand.
As many of us contemplated to ourselves how we would survive the second half with a lively and slightly intoxicated Max in our presence, we were pleased to see that he?d made a much more conservative start with his antics. The odd ?boo? or ?hiss? was all that left Max?s mouth, or at least all that was audible anyway.
But it didn?t take long for Max to return to his usual self, especially when Penrith was starting to gain momentum. He left his box and began pacing up and down the short but steep flight of stairs. His frustration was obvious and he began to turn as red as Ray Warren?s head on a forty degree summer?s day. The predictable obscenities were abundant and, through a touch of nervousness at what was unfolding out on the paddock, Max even threatened to return a sausage roll or two back into the world from which it came.
A tired and weary Max made his way back to his seat for the final stages of the match. It was a close contest, and it was having a severe effect on our man of the moment. As Penrith threatened to spoil the home team?s party time after time, Max put many of us on stand by for first aid, as heart failure seemed imminent. He sat bolt upright in his seat, arms cocked with elbows pointing at both sets of uprights at either end of the field and gradually rotated himself on an axis from the hips as the tension built. When the opposition appeared to have come close to crossing for a try, Max?s body ? minus the head and lower limbs ? was 180 degrees from the action. This twisting action was often accompanied by a few delicate ?ooh?s? and ?ahh?s?.
Eventually, Newcastle sealed the win with a field goal and Max looked a relieved man.
That was until the siren, which was located only metres above us, sounded for full time.
Max?s seat, originally yellow in colour, may have changed to a much darker if his reaction was anything to go by.
Despite his ?out there? antics, he really was outstanding entertainment.
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