Wow. This was an incredibly difficult one to come up with a top ten, let alone a top three. In a year where we went Olympic (and Paralympics don’t forget) crazy, there have been so many excellent days out away from football. Rugby Union, Rugby League, Cricket, Beach Volleyball. But after some serious thinking we have come up with a list of our top three events, ones that really stuck in the memory for a number of reason.
3rd best non football day out – Olympics Opening Ceremony
We can all remember where we were when Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony burst onto our screen and wowed the world. The hype had been building for weeks, even months but even so, when it eventually started, the world stopped and starred. For an event that was on our doorstep at TBIR Towers we were actually in Edinburgh, having spent the day watching the opening day in the Football tournament in Glasgow. We headed into the city centre, watching the events unfold on a big screen set up especially for the event. They had done themselves proud with numerous torch bearers there for photo opportunities, bars and food outlets set up and lots of comfy cushions. This was the first sign of the country uniting as one, and I was proud to be part of it, even 400 miles away.
2nd best non football day out – Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 16 Castleford Tigers 34
Passions run deep in the Rugby League towns in the north of England and local derbies are played with an intensity that is rarely seen these days in competitive sport. Castleford and Wakefield are separated by the M1, just a few miles apart. They are proud Rugby League towns and when they meet three times a season the local community stops and puts on their finest to support their club. The first meeting this season came on Good Friday and completed one of the best days of sport watching I had had for ages. Two rugby league games sandwiched Barnsley versus West Ham made for a great day of viewing, but this game was the icing on the Yorkshire sporting cake. Rugby League is a high-intensity non stop game. Add in the spice of local pride and you have a game and a half. Oh, and of course a few Stones Bitters.
Best non football day out – Olympics Day Three
This really could have been any day from our Olympic summer but for the fact we managed to squeeze so much in it has to be the best day of sport EVER. We had been lucky to pick up tickets in the general sale for multiple events on the first Monday and the sunshine came out to welcome us as we arrived at Horse Guards Parade for the women’s Beach Volleyball. Whilst everyone may have mocked the sport, everyone deep down wanted to be there to watch it. It was an excellent start to our Games and continued as I headed to Lords for the Archery, the girls to the Olympic Park for the Water Polo. At tea-time we watched the sports from the huge screens and then finished the day off with some Hockey as Team GB beat Argentina. Words cannot describe the day.
I wasn’t the only person who threw myself head first into the Olympics and Paralympics, searching out daily availability for tickets and willing to see everything and anything. Brian Parish, the brains behind the Daggers Diary went to almost an event a day. One of these was the final of the 7-a-side football on the last day the Park was open.
After the excitement and drama of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, arguably the best seven weeks of sports seen in this country draws to a close. Both events have created new heroes for the British sporting public to follow, admire and emulate, and after all of the fears about transport, security and almost everything else, I would say from what I have seen, that it seems to have gone fairly well.
From a British point of view, there have been new heroes created, some have re-enforced their higher status, and some have probably increased it. Expect an increase in the popularity of Bradley and Eleanor as babies names over the next year or so.
There were disappointments of course. The GB men’s football team suffered an entirely foreseeable exit on penalties, while the women’s team, having done the hard work by beating Brazil and topping their group, then blew their chance of a medal in the quarter final against Canada. Whether either GB side will appear again is a matter for much debate. Continue reading
So after ten different events in eleven venues it was time to head to our final Olympic session. With only two more days available before we headed to our pre-season football training camp in the wilds of Suffolk, and few new tickets appearing on the website (even at 2am when I set my alarm to check) this was likely to be our last session of the 2012 London Olympics. Eton Dornay had been the scene of some fantastic triumphs last week with Team GB proving once again that we were the kings and queens of the water and we hoped to see that continue with our trip down to Royal Berkshire.
After the success of the rowing it was now time for the canoeing and the kayaking. It’s quite confusing as to the difference between them all, especially as you also factor in the Canoe Slalom that had taken place at Lee Valley last week. So here is my explanation of the differences between them all:-
Sprint Canoe – a flat race over 500m and 1000m (200m and 500m for women) on still water. The canoes are propelled by people in a one knee stance.
Slalom Canoe – a race down a 300 metre course that has a 5.5 metre drop from start to finish and involves passing through up to 25 gates along the way. However, unlike the spring canoe, they are seated all the way down.
Kayaking – Similar distances as the Sprint Canoe but the people are sat inside, just like the Slalom Canoe
So, not confusing at all then. Continue reading
Legacy is a very popular word at the moment. It has become the political hot potato despite the fact the Games still haven’t finished. During the last week the one legacy I have seen already has been a change in the British people. No longer do we make small talk about the weather, but instead we talk about if we had any tickets for the Olympics. I have no idea what we will talk about next week when the Games have finished but I expect some embarrassing silences before we become comfortably enough to broach meteorology again.
When the question “Did you get any Olympic tickets?” raises his head you get two responses. A “No” will result in an almost patronizing “aahh” and a comment along the lines about the BBC showing all 24 events at the same time, and it’s better to watch Gary Linekar and Gabby Logan anyway. A “Yes” though almost certainly results in a second question…”Anything in the stadium yet?” The simple fact of the matter is that THE Olympics is really all about the events on the track.
Everyone wanted to see events in the stadium. I don’t think it was ever going to hit the heights in terms of jaw-dropping architecture of the Birds Nest Stadium in Beijing or the sheer size of Sydney’s stadium from 2000. The whole embarrassing fuss that has surrounded the future ownership of it has been unwanted and as we enter the final few weeks of its original designed “life” it was still no clearer than it was 3 years ago as to who would be the permanent tenant of the stadium. Bids had been received from West Ham United, Essex County Cricket and an audacious statement to turn the whole park into a Formula 1 track. Continue reading
My name is Stuart and I am addicted to pressing F5. There I have admitted it. Whether it be on my laptop, my desktop PC at world, my iPad or just on my iPhone on the train home. I was clicking on that “Search” button on the London2012.com site every few minutes. Ever since LOGOC surprised us all by releasing thousands of tickets in the early hours of Thursday morning I had been trying to fill my calendar on Sunday without much luck. The same events kept appearing as available, but of course we all knew those tickets didn’t really exist. Lord Coe told us to be “patient” and that over 10 billion people were searching the website for 3 tickets, or something like that, ignoring the simple failings of chosing the wrong vendor who had an incredibly poor reputation for managing ticket sales in the past.
But at 11.34pm on Saturday night I struck gold. I hadn’t been to ExCel yet and didn’t really fancy some of the events, but Boxing all of a sudden appeared. Not just any old boxing either. The first bouts of Women Boxing ever held in the Olympic Games. Amazingly, the event had been a demonstration sport back in 1904 in St Louis yet got no backing to make it a formal event. Just over a hundred years later it was finally given the recognition it deserved and it was to be an Olympic event. I quickly pressed “reserve” and I had a ticket in my hand – well almost. Unfortunately I could only get one, so I carefully broached the subject with CMF, playing it up that it was bound to be barbaric and unlady like. She simply raised an eyebrow like she does when she knows I am trying to justify something. Continue reading
There are subtle differences between the types of fans you get at different sports. Your basic Football fan is very different to your club Rugby fan. Your County Cricket fan is not your Rugby League type (with some exceptions “up north”) and you would rarely get a plastic Tennis fan declaring their undying love for Beach Volleyball. Of course there are some cross overs – a fan following England abroad at any sport seems to act the same way (find pub, drink beer, chant “Engerland, Engerland, Engerland”, fall asleep in sun, wake up with sunburn, repeat whole process).
But one sport that is a breed apart (quite literally) is Equestrian. You could argue (and I do, often) that it is not an Olympic sport as it does not involve much human endurance or effort. You could be the best horse rider in the world, but if your horse doesn’t feel up for it then you are as good as the worst rider on a great horse. Obviously, some will argue “yes but what about Formula 1” – well indeed, but a) that’s not in the Olympics (yet) and b) the skill of the driver is actually all important – hence why great drivers win races in different cars. Continue reading
“Earls Court will be transformed into a spectacular venue for the hosting of the Olympic Volleyball competition”
After the excitement of the Beach Volleyball on Monday, I was unsure about going to watch the standard game. The game is essentially the same but with a few big differences, if that makes sense. Firstly, instead of having just two players per side on court at any one time there would be six. Secondly, in the beach variation the initial “block” is counted as one of the three shots and finally skimpy bikinis are frowned upon. It is similar to the reaction of the members to the MCC sitting in the pavilion at Lords watching a floodlight Twenty20 game.
I had seen impromptu games played all over the world, whether it be in swimming pools in the Costa del Sol (well, ok, Centerparcs) to Greenwich Park. With the only equipment needs a net and a ball it was hardly the most technical game to play. Oh how wrong I was. I mentioned the simplicity of the game to a chap at work. Forty five minutes later, with my cup of tea still in my hand now stone cold I managed to pretend my phone was ringing to escape the lecture. Continue reading