Friday 9 August 2013
The Recreation Ground, Bath
When the fire alarm went off in the Bath Travelodge at 8.25 this morning, my immediate thought was “Ouch!” My head was quite sore from an epic night out and needed another two hours of dozing to sort out.
Finally putting feet to floor, a pain shot through my right knee. Spacehoppers should be illegal.
Finally, the £15 in coins in my pocket indicated that a good night had been had, and over pasta salad and orange juice in the Parade Gardens wor lass and I managed to piece together our memories.
Matchday almost had a disastrous beginning. No, not because I was in the office in the morning, but because we arrived in Bath at midday and went straight to the Rec to get some tickets, only to be told they had sold out!
I was speechless, absolutely gutted. After a little pleading, the nice lady in the ticket office said she was about to go around the ground testing the entry systems, and had five tickets to do it with. After that they could be sold, and so an hour later she came back to the ticket office and sold us two tickets for the sheep pen in front of the clubhouse! Success!
So all looked good until after a couple of pints in The Boater, we tried to get into the ground but the tickets wouldn’t scan properly. Back to the ticket office. Of set of tickets two, only one would scan. Fortunately the stewards’ gaffer took pity and let us in anyway.
The less said about matters on the pitch the better I think. We definitely missed Mayhew’s power and Hodgson’s creativity – York and Catterick couldn’t really compensate – and some lax defending was punished by Gloucester and Saracens.
Still, at least the Falcons scored some tries against Saracens, having been nilled by Gloucester.
Still, if we play in this tournament next season I’ll be happy as it will mean survival has been achieved.
At least there was fun to be had off the pitch, with some good banter with Gloucester fans in particular. We also ran into a couple of guys from Sussex who were eager to hear about which of the Falcons’ young players they should watch out for.
Oh, and of course there was the fan challenge obstacle course. As soon as I was asked to participate, the missus took away the rest of my two-pinter (the Premiership Rugby lady said participants had to be sober) and took me to the bar for a pep talk. I was not quite so serious, playing a few notes from Eye of the Tiger on me phone.
Nobody at the bar answered when I called “Can I get a bowl of Frosties over here please?” but then I didn’t ask too loudly.
Having not used a spacehopper before, at least not since I was a nipper, I thought it wise to get some practice first. It was going well until I got a shooting pain in the right knee. That’s both of them knackered then. Still managed to complete the course though and despite finishing last it was fun!
So Gloucester went on to win the title and come midnight the Rec’s clubhouse was sparsely populated and the bar closed. Some Falcons and Premiership Rugby officials had turned up and we tagged along to a nightclub near the train station.
The entrance being in a small terrace building, the club was surprisingly large and labyrinth-like inside, and not a bad place. More officials were there, including the night’s event manager who asked me my opinion on the entertainment. Good I thought, but as I was only there for the rugby (and the beer too I guess) then maybe I wasn’t the right person to ask.
Come 3am, I ran into a Falcons player who saw my shirt and immediately shouted “Gannin’ along the Scotswood Road, to see the Blaydon Races”. After a lot of beers, I just smiled and decided that since I could not think of an appropriate response, it might be time to hit the hay.
Until the fire alarm began.
The headache is now gone and although it probably not quite Cross Keys, last night was a cracker. Often the least-planned ones are. This is one big reason I love rugby – everywhere you go, you will make friends and meet some very nice and humble people.
Now that wor lass and I are planning how we’re going to do Brive in October, can’t wait for more of the same over there. It’s been a short summer but rugby is back!