Fan-tastic support's Joe Drabble soaked up the atmosphere with the Barmy Army as England grabbed a draw at the Gabba

Last Updated: 30/11/10 11:15am

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A big moment as I met Barmy Army ring leader 'Jimmy'

A big moment as I met Barmy Army ring leader 'Jimmy'

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They call themselves the best supporters in the world, and after the scenes at the Gabba on Monday, few will dispute that statement.

While Australia's fans stayed at home for the fifth day of the first Ashes Test, England arrived in their thousands yet again to see their side seal a draw from the opening salvo of the series in Brisbane.

An England fan asked former Australia opener Michael Slater earlier: "Is it fancy dress day here today?' Slater: 'er, no why?', fan: 'I thought all the Aussies had come as plastic seats'.

The ground was half full at best with both results still possible, if admittedly unlikely.

But that allowed fans to sit wherever they pleased, with England fans all grouped together for the first time in the match thanks to Cricket Australia's absurd ticketing policy.


That system meant I had restricted access to the designated Barmy Army section on days one to four, but I placed myself bang in the middle of the action here today. And what a day it was!

After meeting the likes of Richie Benaud and David 'Bumble Lloyd already on this tour, I was delighted to add another legend to the list in the form of 'Barmy Army Jimmy'.

He is a cult sports figure worldwide now and I had the pleasure of sitting with him and the rest of the 'Army' to learn a little more about these hardy followers.

The Jimmy Saville lookalike, whose real name is Vic Flowers, is the ringleader of the group and actually has his tours paid for out of the money the organisation makes. I can now say he is worth every penny!

I know it's easy to sing when your team are on 500+, but even when times have been tough here in Brisbane the Barmy Army are doing their best to lift spirits in the hope of influencing the on-field action.

The orchestration of the chants and the wit of the content is inspired with 'Billy the Trumpeter' keeping everyone in tune with his melody. It's shameful to think Billy was banned from this venue on the last tour down under.

The boys even have hymn sheets! It was fantastic to be a part of it and I can't wait to get back amongst them in Adelaide, the venue for the next Test.


England gave their fans plenty to cheer too, as Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott took the game away from Australia with a record, unbeaten stand for the second wicket.

I had to look at the scoreboard at least three times when we reached 500-1.

The character and togetherness of this group of players and the management team is there for all to see and I am convinced England will go on and win this series now!

It's a well-earned day off tomorrow, then on to Adelaide to go 1-0 up. Let's hope the pitch may be a little more bowler-friendly there!

For more updates from Down Under follow me on Twitter @DrabsDownUnder.

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