The frenzy started last Saturday night. Sydney Football Club played Melbourne Victory Football Club in Sydney’s own Allianz Stadium. The Big Blue rivalry intensified what was already a hostile game. From agony to ecstasy, Terry Antonis redeemed himself in the most dramatic of fashions. He scored the winner with only a few minutes left of extra time, after being at fault for an agonising own-goal in the last few seconds of regular stoppage time.
A heart-jerker of a game, Melbourne Victory fans had one tab open on Webjet ready to fly to Newcastle for next week’s Grand Final. To their delight, their beloved team secured their place in the pinnacle game of Australian football. This night Saturday, the Newcastle Jets FC will host Melbourne Victory FC at their home ground.
Victory fans didn’t have long to celebrate after the final whistle blew. They refreshed Webjet, only to realise flight prices had soared higher than the adrenalin they felt after the winning goal. With the celebratory mood still in full effect, the first three flights were booked out before the tickets for the Grand Final went on sale for members. As soon as 10am struck, Ticketmaster was inundated with Victory fans, eager to secure their seat. Last night, Fox Sports reported that Victory fans had bought 5,000 tickets within the first 12 hours of their release.
But soaring prices and limited direct flights to Newcastle, mean Victory’s loyal supporters have to go above and beyond to get to McDonald Jones Stadium in time for the night time kick-off. The five sold out direct flights prompted Jetstar to release a sixth flight, which sold out within the hour. This led Victory fans to get creative.
“We have a 7am flight from Melbourne to Sydney, followed by a two-and-a-half-hour train ride to Newcastle. My other mates are driving 12 hours. We are hoping to meet in time for pre-game drinks at the nearest watering hole,” said loyal supporter Zak Marshall.
Supporter forums and Facebook pages are inundated with posts asking if anyone has a spare seat in their car or if they would like to split fuel money for car hire. The club organisers have been overwhelmed with interest in hiring buses to take enthusiastic fans to Newcastle. They are offering a bus trip which departs early Saturday morning and returns straight after the game for a mere $240 return ticket. It seems like Victory supporters will do anything to watch their team lift the A-League trophy that was taken from them last year.
Finding a way to get there was the easiest part. The next hurdle for Victory fans was the issue of limited accommodation. “We’ve given up on finding accommodation. Our plan is to party all night after the game and then catch the earliest possible train,” said Mr Marshall.
According to Expedia, 90% of Newcastle and its surrounding areas were booked out by the following morning. Fans were left scrambling for the last beds available in the Hunter Valley. Sleeping in cars and tents in local caravan sites seems to be the only remaining option for fans, according to the forums and message boards.
There will be waves and waves of navy blue supporters flooding the streets of Newcastle, creating an atmosphere that the Hunter Valley region has never experienced before.