There's really nothing like experiencing an AFL game live, and the opportunity to farewell an AFL legend is even more incentive to get along to the Gabba this Saturday night. Triple-premiership player Jonathan Brown announced his retirement this week after over 250 games and almost 600 goals, and will be honoured at half time with a lap of the Gabba.
Getting along to the stadium can be a pretty painless exercise - Brisbane public transport is free if you have a ticket for the game and given the limited parking in Woolloongabba, this is really the best way to get there.
There are some great activities pre-game in Lion park - meet the players, animal petting and merchandise stalls. The attractions change from time to time so you never know what you might stumble across. It's well worth arriving early to take advantage of the free fun on the way to the gates.
Once you're inside, the expanse of perfect green grass dotted with players, trainers and refs fills your vision as you find your seat. The Gabba looks best at capacity; the stadium seats 42,000, but even on a quieter night the first sight of a live AFL game is exciting.
There are passionate calls from fans to players, big screen pictures of team lineups, close up replays and thousands of punters proudly in their colours. Sometimes the crowd calls and banter can be more entertaining than the game - there's a lot of creative word play in action after a questionable ref decision, keep an ear out for it.
Stadium food is pretty standard fare - hot dogs, chips, pizza and pre-packaged sandwiches. All of which are fairly pricey, certainly more than you'd pay at any takeaway store. The venue does permit food and drink brought from home, but note that there are limits on bag and esky sizes and all bags are checked on entry. BYO alcohol is not permitted. There are coffee stalls and a bar of course, to satiate the thirst that only being at the footy can build.
After most games there's a chance to feel the Gabba ground under your very own feet when the gates are opened up for kick to kick - so don't forget to bring your footy. Who knows; you might even kick it through the big sticks just like Browny has so very many times.
The next home game is Saturday 28th June vs North Melbourne. Check out the Lions website for more info on tickets, dates and transport.