A surprise guest appearance by the legendary Manic Street Preachers was the highlight of Lions Rugby Travel’s first official supporter village in Melbourne.
To a rapturous reception from 3,000 fans at Atlantic Wharf, lead singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield wowed the crowd, after being whipped into a frenzy at the news that the iconic Welsh band were to entertain them.
For 30 minutes the band delivered a spectacular show at an exclusive performance only for Lions Rugby Travel clients. Decked out in a British & Irish Lions shirt, James got the entire audience singing as one to a raft of hits.
Event host, former Lions and Scotland scrum-half Andy Nicol, said: "The Manic Street Preachers – just being on stage to announce them was incredible – what a performance and what an exclusive for fans in the supporter village – it was sensational."
For three and half hours, Lions Rugby Travel's supporter village was the best place to be part of a genuine Lions experience. Fans from all corners of Great Britain and Ireland gathered for food, drink, music, videos, live Q & As with Lions legends – and of course the Manics !
"The whole experience has been unbelievable but the Supporter Village was something else – the best pre-match build up I have ever had," said Scott Randall from Cornwall.
"To be around so many Lions fans having a great time was fantastic but when the Manics came on stage there was nothing to describe it. I wasn't sure if Andy Nicol was joking to start with but it was 30 minutes of music and rugby I will never forget."
Fans streamed into the venue from the moment it was open and heard from Lions legend Jerry Guscott, who re-lived the very best bits from a glittering career with Nicol, while the audience also heard from legends Roger Uttley, Tyrone Howe, Simon Shaw and Peter Winterbottom, while 1989 Lions man of the series Mike Teague was also present.
"Nothing beats this – it's been amazing," said Sue Stevenson from Cardiff. "We are here in a party of six and we have all had a wonderful day. To see so many red shirts, see people from home and meet new friends sums up what The Lions is all about – coming together, meeting people and supporting the same team.
"I am not sure what will be planned for Sydney but this was fantastic."
After the second Test at the Etihad Stadium, fans returned for more entertainment from local band Déjà Vu, who poured out a raft of classic tracks – and not even a Lions defeat could dampen the mood completely.
"We are here for a party – it's a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are going to make the most of it," said James King. "It's just been a very special day for everyone in the supporter village and I just want to say thanks to everyone, to the fans who created the atmosphere and to Lions Rugby Travel for staging it – fantastic."