Despite having a totally soccer-obsessed 10-year-old, the thought of dragging the entire family along to a Newcastle Jets Football game has never been high on our weekend to-do list. Having seen the fanatics walking the pavement to McDonald Jones Stadium on a Saturday or Sunday, ready to passionately cheer on their home team, I was nervous that our four kids, ranging in age from 2 to 10, plus their energetic cousins, wouldn’t sit through the entire game, would bother the truly dedicated fans or would cost an arm and a leg to feed at a sporting outing like this.
But after biting the bullet and kitting our kids out to support the Red and Blue at a family-friendly 5pm match one Saturday afternoon, I’m pleased to report, that heading along to a local sporting event like a Jets or Knights game, was a fun and exciting experience for us all!
What To Expect at a Newcastle Jets Game
Whether you can recite all the past scores from every Jets home game since they joined the league in 2000, or you like sport as much as ironing a bunch of school uniforms on a Sunday night, the fun and excitement of watching a live event is enough to have even the toughest crowd getting into the spirit. A soccer match goes for two 45 minutes halves with a 15 minute half time break. That’s about as long as most kids can endure in one outing but the bonus of heading along to the stadium, is that there are places to sit to suit everyone.
Where to Sit With Kids
Older kids might prefer to sit up in the stands to watch the action or get close to the fanatics group who chant and beat drums throughout the game to add that extra level of entertainment to the day. Another great kid-friendly option is setting up camp with picnic rugs on the grass hill, especially if you have toddlers or young children like our group did.
At any one time, we had a few kids practising their somersaults, a pair colouring in with paper and textas that I’d luckily thrown in the bag, others watching the game intently and waving their flags like mad, while the Mums and Dads could sit back and relax (or catch up on the latest gossip!). The crowds are mixed in ages and very understanding and seem just happy to be all together watching some sport. There was a great vibe in the air!
What to Eat at a Newcastle Jets Game
The best part about seeing a game at McDonald Jones Stadium for a family is that you have the option of buying hot food like fish and chips, hot dogs and pies and sausage rolls at the game to tuck into, or to pack a picnic hamper from home. You can’t take any opened drinks or water bottles but the security are pretty lenient when it comes to letting kids take their water bottles in. Of course, no glass or knives in your picnic set, but most other items are okay. We packed a couple of BBQ chickens, salad, cheeses, olives and wraps and enjoyed a cheap, healthy and cheerful kid-friendly dinner without having to fork out more money after our tickets. Beware, the on-site ice cream vans are a persistent temptation for little ones and if you’d like an alcoholic drink, you’ll need to sit in the appropriate areas.
There are a bunch of clean, easy to access toilet facilities which is a bonus for young kids who can’t wait. Beat the queues and head to the rest areas whilst the game is still on, instead of at half time.
Getting to a Newcastle Jets Game
Bus 27 is the best route for those planning on catching public transport to McDonald Jones Stadium or the Broadmeadow train station is an easy 10 minute walk away. If you’re taking the car, there is limited parking on site for a small cost or if you don’t mind a short walk, we have never had any worries finding a park in the surrounding suburbs. This is also a great option for when the kids are ready for home and you can make a quick getaway!
Look for Family-Friendly Game Days
There is usually around 13 home Jets home games and once this season ends, the Knights Rugby League season is soon to kick off, so most weekend, families can find a sporting event to head along to. Keep an eye out for family-friendly afternoon weekend games that kick off at either 4pm or 5pm, making it a nice afternoon out for all ages. Tickets start at just $10 for kids and always check the Jets social media accounts in the lead up to a game, as they often have kids-free days with jumping castles and face painting out the front for the little ones.
Not only is heading along to a local sporting game a great social get together for families wanting to experience the sporting community that Newcastle is passionate about, but local sporting events promote active, healthy kids who move their bodies and enjoy being outside. Why not get amongst the action, wave a flag, bang a drum or be a part of the local patriotism and join the chorus of “Newcastle! Newcastle! Newcastle!” It’s a bit of family-friendly fun!
For more information about home games, visit the Newcastle Jets website.
When Odette Tonkin isn’t writing, she’s chasing after her four kids on their Newcastle urban acreage, surrounded by her veggie garden, chooks and bees! Odette has worked as a newsreader, public relations officer and spent over ten years as a writer and editor at Pacific Magazines, writing for a bunch of magazines including TV Hits, Girlfriend, K-Zone, Total Girl, New Idea and Famous.