Saturday, 18 February 2012

For the love of rugby

This afternoon, number 3 and I are headed north to Newcastle to watch what may turn out to be one of the last Premiership matches in the North-East with our beloved Falcons holding up the entire Premiership by some margin. We're off with our Irish chums, Declan and his lovely daughter as Newcastle are playing London Irish and we are very excited.

My love of rugby goes back to my teenage years with my father. As the youngest of four - the other three are boys and older than me - it became my duty to go with Dad on a Saturday afternoon to watch Coventry who were the Leicester Tigers or Saracens of their day, topping the league most seasons. A few matches in and I was hooked.

In the years that followed, I played a bit at college before our team fell apart when the captain went off with a photographer from the Sun (for all the reasons that are probably springing to mind!) and then I met and married two men (not at the same time) who were not interested in rugby. In fact, the first one turned out to love Bradford City more than he loved me and romance in the Shed End was something of a struggle.

Anyway, years went by and I only occasionally watched rugby on the tv and then in 2003 the rugby bug bit me again. England were immense - some of them rather long in the tooth but nonetheless immense and I ironed my way through the World Cup in Australia, nearly burning a few shirts at key moments, and numbers 2 and 3 started to get hooked too.

After the joy of the famous World Cup winning drop goal by you-know-who, I wrote on the downstairs loo blackboard that I wanted to see the best fly-half in the world play at Newcastle. Of course, I hadn't factored in that he might be injured most of the time for the next five years, after which he would quite rightly move to sunnier climes but number 2 bought me tickets to Kingston Park, home of the Falcons and actually by the time the great one did play we were huge fans of the whole team.

In better years, Kingston Park has been a fortress - Newcastle might not have been able to win away from home but on their own ground they were impenetrable and we watched them beat some of the best. One time, it was a whole family outing to see Northampton, not least because number 2 had a bit of a thing for Ben Cohen. The sound of the home crowd - including us - singing the Blaydon Races when they score a try is absolutely epic.

So today number 3 and I are going to have a brilliant time, sing the Blaydon Races - even though we only know half the words, the rest being in Geordie - and fingers crossed Newcastle will make a miraculous escape from the drop at the end of the season and we will have another winter of rugby to look forward to.

And in the meantime, there'll be a whole summer of tennis for us to enjoy!

PS Number 1 plays rugby too and I am sure much better than I ever did. I did a lot of running down the wing, mostly without the ball and only occasionally with it. Number 1 is really good and having looked at her team, hopefully no photographer from the Sun will want want to run off with any of them - fine though they are!

Later: Just back and Newcastle won so definitely worth the trip. Off to celebrate with a glass of red and some good friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment