On March 14, a warm Autumn night in Leichhardt, thousands of men and women – young and old, all decked out in various shades of orange – are making the annual journey down Glover Street.
There is excitement in the air, mixed with the smell of a barbecue set up on the street. Fans queue up to buy a sausage before rejoining the sea of orange on their way into the stadium. And then, you enter the ground.
It is everything I’d imagined and more.
You see, Leichhardt Oval isn’t just any old ground. There is something magical about it. Leichhardt Oval is all that the traditionalists love about rugby league.
From the old scoreboard to the general admission seating that isn’t so much seating as an array of worn and weary benches, forcing you to cram in with the person next to you, it has it all.
Watching the Wests Tigers run out on to Leichhardt Oval takes you straight back to the glory days of Balmain. As Aaron Woods leads his side into battle, you can picture Wayne Pearce walking out with a fired up Laurie Nichols by his side.
As the game starts, I am in awe of how close we are to the field. Sitting in the third row, we are just metres away from the sideline. You can almost feel the impact of the bone-crunching tackles.
The game rolls on, and the Tigers’ forward pack provide the rhythm, but the melody that three try hero James Tedesco and his halves partners produce is footy at its finest.
The atmosphere is electric, with the crowd on the hill so big it is a struggle to move through it. Supposedly just over half-full on this cloudy night, a capacity crowd would surely spill over to the playing arena.
The hosts skip out to a commanding lead, enough to secure the two competition points. As the siren sounds, the crowd roars.
A final lap of honour from the players sees the fans start to flock out of the gates, and head back up Glover Street.
“Go you Tigers!” roars a die hard fan. And with that, this footy fan could tick something off the bucket list: See the Tigers win at Leichhardt Oval.