Perth has been the theatre for plenty of Test drama between Australia and England … Malcolm Quekett reflects on 43 years of history.
There were gracious old wooden stands and wobbly wooden bench seats, and newspaper sellers did the rounds.
It was possible to sit on the grass around the edge of the boundary and towelling hats were as thick on the ground as the flocks of seagulls.
Long socks and one’s best shorts marked out a well-dressed man, there was a marked absence of whacky outfits or English flags and standing up the back on a milk crate was a good way to make sure of a good view.
It was 1970 and an Ashes Test was under way at the WACA Ground.
As the 70s wore on, shirtless blokes in Stubbies (for the younger reader, that is a brand of shorts) along with girls in bikini tops, made their marks out on the hill.
It was the days before the emergence of serious spectator misbehaviour and a time when running on to the ground at an appropriate moment was still tolerated.
Afternoon chants of “Liiilleee, Liiilleee” were as regular as the Fremantle Doctor, and as the day wore on one thing you could rely on was long lines at the bars and ice-cream vans.
As the times moved on spectators in the outer began to make their views known with home-made signs and banners, the more amusing the better.
Perhaps inspired by the arrival of one-day cricket, its coloured clothing and high-octane atmosphere, or the controversial World Series competition, Test match fans increasingly joined in the festival-like fun.
During the 90s, the ever-growing involvement of travelling and fun-loving English fans, now well known as the Barmy Army, began to be seen and heard, and local fans have since responded in kind.
And so to today, when the wonderful WACA Ground outfield, always lush and green, is sure to be ringed by big pockets of flag-waving Aussies in green and gold, along with the Barmy Army in red and white, holding high the flags marked with names of their villages and cricket clubs across Britain.
While crowd fashions and feelings have evolved since 1970, there has been one ever-present and vital backdrop to all the action — a big, blue, West Australian sky.