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British and Irish Lions Fans Are In Town | What to Expect

By Daniel Colasimone - 11 Jun 2013

The British and Irish Lions are in Brisbane for the first time in 12 years. They are here to play a couple of rugby games, against the Reds (did you catch it?) and the Wallabies on June 22. Last time they were here was a time known as 2001. 

The world was a very different place then. Bill 'Slick Willy' Clinton's term as President of the United States was coming to an end, Wikipedia was launched to change the way we avoided doing real research forever and a little film about illegal street racing called The Fast and the Furious conquered not just the box office, but the hearts and minds of everyone on the planet to kick start what would become the most beloved movie franchise of all time.

You probably don't remember those heady days (I certainly don't) but the history books (Wikipedia) tell us that when the Lions came to town, they brought with them somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 supporters. In that winter all those years ago Brisbane was transformed from a big country town, to a big country town with heaps of British and Irish rugby supporters in it.

And now they are back. 

What does that mean for us natives? Well firstly, the small matter of a portion of the $100 million a Lions tour is estimated to inject into the Australian economy. So start spending that now. Been tossing up whether to splurge on those expensive Pradas or that speedboat? Just buy them, the Lions are here. Money is no longer an issue, we're all rich.

We can also expect our living space to be restricted for the next week. You will see these ladies and gents everywhere. Red and white are the colours to look out for. Sure, those are colours of the Lions' jersey, but more often than not our northern friends won't be wearing shirts at all. While the rest of us are tossing up whether a scarf is too much over three layers of clothing, for English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh folk, our grey winter days are the equivalent of the middle of their summer. They will soon have stripped away most layers of clothing and we will be surrounded by so much white, white skin that sunglasses will be necessary to protect our eyes from the glare. Within approximately 24 hours, however, despite the lack of sunlight, they will all be terribly burned to such an extent that their skin will match the bright red of their jerseys.

You will also be able to recognise a Lions fan because he or she will inevitably have a beer in hand and will be banging on about how far their British Pounds go in Australia. If you try to engage them in conversation, they will attempt to talk to you about rugby, and the Lions chances of beating the Wallabies on this tour. The Lions will lose, but don't mention that or things could get ugly.

Where will they be hanging out? I already said they are going to be everywhere! But to get an insight into their mindset, have a read through this article in The Daily Mail. They are advised to visit, along with the usual tourist spots like Lone Pine, Brisbane favourites like Alfred and Constance, the Powerhouse, The Story Bridge Hotel, and James Street. So yeah, expect those locales to take on a bit of a different vibe this week. The writer also seems to have a hangup about possums, but I'm not sure if that applies to British folk across the board.

In the end, Lions fans are similar in many ways to Brisbane's possums. Occasionally they will wake you up with their hellacious fighting noises but, if you don't rile them up by poking them with a broom, they probably won't bother you. And if you're nice to them by giving them food and drink, who knows, they might even join you in bed for a snuggle. 

The message here is: Take advantage of this week of festive mirth with our furry British and Irish friends. They won't be back for another twelve years, and we could all be dead, married, or in prison by then. 

TUL Note: After a six-year stint as a freelance journalist in Buenos Aires, Daniel is back in Brisbane to find that his knowledge of Argentinian football is of little practical value here. Luckily, his other areas of expertise, such as eating food, drinking wine, and writing about it, are applicable across most cultures. 

Image Credit: Gumtree

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