The upcoming Ashes series is understandably generating much interest amongst sports fans across the country, with Australia and England resuming their battle for the oldest trophy in world cricket in Brisbane on 8th December.
Yet this summer’s series is set to be slightly different, with Border restrictions in Queensland meaning that the famed English Supporters group 'The Barmy Army' will be unable to attend in large numbers as in previous years.
'CHEATING IS CHEATING': Cricket great hammers Steve Smith move
Loved and loathed in equal measure by Australian fans, the ‘Barmy Army’ have become a fixture on our shores every four years with their humorous songs and passionate support for their team.
So, does this mean that there won’t be any English fans at the Gabba on the 8th of December? Not exactly - enter the Brisbane Barmies.
Stepping into the breach vacated by the official ‘Barmy Army’ this summer is a Brisbane based England Supporters Group – the – who are a group of English expats currently living in South-East Queensland.
The group was formed 5 years ago, prior to the previous Ashes series in Australia, and has now grown to nearly 800 members. We caught up with founder George Gallantree recently to found out more.
For Gallantree, who originates from Newcastle in the UK but has lived in Brisbane for the last 15 years, the ‘Brisbane Barmies’ is not just about supporting the England cricket team.
Although this is understandably a key component, George explains that the group have also raised over $40,000 for local Brisbane charities since forming in 2016.
Their most recent efforts included a Golf Day for members, an event he is keen to mention.
“We had 144 players at our Golf Day in early November, which raised $14,500 for Hummingbird House” he tells us proudly. An Englishman with a heart in his local community.
The charity element to the group is something they inherited from the Official Barmy Army in the UK, who also raise funds for good causes when on tour following England.
Gallantree is regularly in touch with the leaders of the UK organisation in the run up to the Ashes, and as he explains:
"The Official Barmy Army mentioned our group on their Facebook page recently, and our membership numbers have been rising by 20 a day since then.”
With their membership numbers swelling, the Brisbane Barmies have been allocated 3 bays at the upcoming Test at the Gabba, having sold over 1000 tickets to this section (via a special code issued by Ticketek).
Although this number is lower than what would be expected to arrive from England in the pre-Covid era, it’s still a significant body of support, and one that is sure to be intent on making their presence felt.
Songs with Humour and Dignity
So, what can we expect from the Brisbane Barmies at the Gabba? According to Gallantree, it will be much of the same as what the UK Barmy Army dish up, which is generally good humoured and witty songs delivered in a football (soccer) style chant.
Interestingly, he explains that the group had several songs written for ex-Australian captain Tim Paine, but they have shelved these in respect to his recent .
It’s a noble gesture; but doesn’t mean other members of the Australian team won’t be targeted with witty banter during the game – far from it!
George and his friends are already rewriting many songs, although he refuses to be drawn on their content at this stage.
Finally, we can’t let him leave without asking for a prediction on the outcome of the First Test.
“Given the weather forecast, I’d say 4 days of rain and England will cling on for a draw!”
It’s the kind of witty retort we should expect from Gallantree and his merry band of men, and we anticipate hearing a lot more from his merry band of men over five December days in Brisbane.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.