Fan-tastic support

Skysports.com's Joe Drabble soaked up the atmosphere with the Barmy Army as England grabbed a draw at the Gabba

Last updated: 30th November 2010  

Barmy Army Queen

'The Queen' also leant her support to the cause

Joe Drabble and Barmy Army Jimmy Saville Gabba

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

Also see

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.

Legend

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.

Character

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.

Comments (5)

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Gareth Dowson says...

Hi Joe. Great article and an excellent insight into the barmy army. I've just been on and passed the umpires course with your dad who was telling about your exploits over there. Safe to say i'm extremely jealous, esp as you've met the legend that is Richie Benaud. I'd give 2 of my limbs to get to meet and talk to the guy.

Posted 07:39 30th November 2010

Frank Curtis says...

Hey Joe, great blog - just knew you'd love it with the Army! I have some friemds in Adelaide who want to take you and bro for a drink! Hope your liver makes it to Melbourne - see you there mate!

Posted 06:10 30th November 2010

Lee Munro says...

Well done Barmy Army, you did your country proud! You sounded amazing yesterday, all those empty seats amplified the sound. For years you've followed this team around the world, win or lose. Mainly lose until relativelty recently. So sing loud and proud, kids!

Posted 15:27 29th November 2010

Ian Rogers says...

good to meet you and your bro joe. keep up the good work and will def read your articles. had 3 great days at the gabba and delighted the way the team fought for the full 5 days. ian and terry

Posted 11:22 29th November 2010

Trevor Gibbs says...

Fantastic performance from the boys, wish i was out there with the army!!! Great article keep them coming

Posted 10:28 29th November 2010

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