Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tubthumping





I have never been a big rugby fan, having tended to view it in class terms. We never played it at school and the first game I actually played was when I was about 21, when I started turning out for Witton 3rds. I only did it because my mate Len would ask me at about half ten of Friday night and, being more idiotic than usual at that time of night, and more than usually full of camaraderie and love for my buddies, I would agree to turn out. Plus, there was no all day drinking in those days but after the game you would get straight in the bar, which not only opened early, it was heavily subsidised.

It was OK. I was surprised that I enjoyed it, surprised by the fellow feeling and togetherness, but never exactly enthused and once I moved to Cardiff I never played again. I always found it a bit of a myth about violence on the field being followed by friendship off it; I always found that nasty buggers were just as nasty on or off the field. Maybe it was an anti Brum bias as we tended to play in strange places in Staffordshire like Cannock.

In one of my first games, when I barely understood the basics of the game some clown hit me with a horrible late tackle. Some bloke who happened to be walking around the pitch, with his dog, said, "oooh, that was late ref". He had nothing to do with either side, he just happened to be passing. The ref told him that he was in charge and ordered him from the stadium. Those were his words "I order you from the stadium ", he then gave a penalty against me because of the outsiders intervention, and no one gave a murmour. The "stadium" was a patch of shit, glass and brick laden greenery on some hellish estate, and this is why I have never really fallen in love with the game, for all the camaraderie and fellow feeling, it is pompous and servile.

Having said all that, the England Rugby team over the last week have been heroic and I am as proud as I can be to be an Englishman. I am proud of those sporting giants and all of us should be humbled by what they have achieved and the manner in which they have done it. They have proved that, no matter how bleak a situation seems, there is always another day, always a chance to put things right. Plus, Johnny Wilkinson must be the most self effacing, dignified man in any sport.

A bonus is, of course, that my Welsh family, friends and acquaintances can stick their anti English opinions up their collective arses. Never mind their own humiliation they have been telling me for the last two weeks how we are going to be hammered and how much they are going to enjoy it. I wonder if the buggers know how to spell hubris?

Not only that, I am now a published writer. My article for Community Care is in this weeks edition, heavily edited and anonymised, but what the hell............it ain't bad for a snotnosed kid from Balsall Heath who left school without even a CSE and who was advised, aged 16, by a man called Sparks, who I believe went on to lead the council, to knock any high faluting thoughts of journalism on the head and to seek work as a lorry drivers mate.

On a lighter not, Eyebrowy is superb, if you are disillusioned with the posh ghetto that is the British music industry, there is every chance that you might like it.
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