Born into a dyed-in-the-wool Port Adelaide supporting family, Mr Saterno has travelled with 10 other men from the extended Saterno clan with the intention of sharing their own brand of very vocal support for Port when they take on the Gold Coast Suns in the first AFL premiership points game to be played in China.
He was at the ground to witness the Power’s first AFL game in 1997 and was determined to see the first game in China along with 5,000 other Port Adelaide fans who have tickets to the Shanghai clash.
Mr Saterno said his group would be doing their best to give Chinese spectators a taste of AFL supporter culture regardless of a massive security presence, with alcohol banned at the game and a planned open training session today closed at the request of the Shanghai police.
“From a spectator’s point of view I think we’ll be even more passionate showing the rest of the world or China how we barrack and support,” Mr Saterno said.
The game at the Jiangwan Stadium, which has a capacity for 11,000 spectators, has been sold out and Mr Saterno predicts that Power fans will dominate the barracking during the match against the Suns.
“We’re a special bunch, so I think we’ll make a little dent but I’m sure they’re used to seeing a few Westerners get a bit rowdy,” he said.
“I’m expecting a lot of expats from around Asia to come up and view the game, as well as a lot of locals to see what the hype is all about.”
Showcasing Australian culture
Watching the football game is the primary goal for Mr Saterno’s travel companions but they will also take in some of the tourist sites including a trip to the Great Wall.
There will also be a bit of business done on the sidelines.
Mr Saterno’s cousins run a winery in the Adelaide Hills that has been selling direct to the Chinese market, and they will be take their Chinese agents along to the game for some Australian sporting culture.
“It’s a good reason to get back over there and see their agents and promote their wines in China as well as seeing the football,” Mr Saterno said.
Port Adelaide Power are hoping to make the China match a regular part of the annual AFL fixture and Mr Saterno is also keen to make a regular pilgrimage to China, although he would no doubt prefer there was cold beer available.
“If we’re allowed back after the weekend … I think if it all goes to plan for us on the weekend winning and the experience of it all, why not, absolutely.”
And Mr Saterno’s game prediction? “Yeah we’ll smash ’em, easy.”
By Michael Coggan