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.
This was to be the day of all days. The plan was to take in three (THREE!) Rugby League games, fitted around a trip to Oakwell to watch Barnsley v West Ham. Originally on the agenda was the Humberside derby as Hull Kingston Rovers took on their bigger neighbours Hull RLFC at Craven Park. As the ground (recently chosen as one venues for next year’s Rugby League World Cup) was a new one on me I was well up for this. However, at some point between early February when the fixtures came out, and early April when I got round to trying to buy a ticket the game appeared to have been switched to the KC Stadium and my interest waned a little as I have been there a few times already.
Game two became game one and just forty five minutes after leaving the TBIR Northern HQ in Lincoln I was pulling up outside the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster at 3pm. In fact I appeared to be one of the only cars there, and if it wasn’t for the sight of the London Skolars coach I would assume it was wrong place at the wrong time.
Doncaster is a football town. However, the opening of the Keepmoat stadium five years ago has breathed life into the rugby league team and they are now proudly trying to work their way up the Rugby League ladder, playing this season in the National Championship 1. The club have had an emotional life, which has seen numerous name changes, grounds, owners and flirtations with mergers, bankruptcy and the odd promotion. But today it is about steady progress and playing at an excellent venue such as the Keepmoat certainly helps.
The Skolars history by comparison to Doncaster’s has been sedate to say the least. They were formed in 1995 as a club for graduating students who still wanted to play the game. They have made steady progress up the leagues, and whilst they will always live in the shadow of London’s other rugby league side, the Broncos, they continue to play the game in the right spirit. Continue reading
Welcome to Monster Mansion
It is 12.30pm and we have been on the road for nearly four hours and covered over two hundred miles. We have just pulled up outside “Monster Mansion”, the imposing Victorian building that dominates the city of Wakefield. Inside these huge walls you will find over 600 of Britain’s most dangerous criminals, housed these days in single cells, with TV’s, kitchens and a range of recreational facilities on hand. Butlins has a hard job trying to keep up these days.
Why were we in the birthplace of Jane McDonald, Gail Tilsey and Henry Moore you may be wondering? It certainly wasn’t for any penal reform protests, although it was criminal to think that on such a public holiday there was no football being played south of Woodall services. Whilst the south had the Royal Wedding, the north had the final round of matches in the Evostik League One (North). Ask any respecting Englishman where they would rather be today, on a Cameron decreed day of celebration and I bet they would say Clitheroe, Harrogate Railway Athletic or even the exotic delights of Prescott Cables.
Dave gets into the spirit of things
It took me all of 2 minutes to decide to forego my place on the sofa with the rest of the Fullers with a long trip up north when the opportunity arose over breakfast last Sunday. There I was in full rant about being forced to watch millions of flag waving foreigners thinking the Beckham’s were actually royalty when CMF said “Nobody is forcing you to watch it. Go and do whatever you like next Friday”. I do not need second invitations and with my .pink slip signed, I put a call to the Lewes Lunatic Fringe and it was three yesses from the Hove contingent for a Royal Wedding Avoidance Beano (RWAB for short). The only decision we needed to make was where we would be heading. Two options jumped out of the pages of the Non League Paper straight away. Garforth Town and Wakefield. The former would be hosting champions elect and undoubtably a few thousand travelling fans from Chester FC, whilst the latter would be saying goodbye to their modest little ground. As an added bonus for either, we would be heading straight off after the game to catch the bitter local derby in the Engage Super League between Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos at the once known Jungle. So well appointed is the ground that it is known locally as Cas Vegas. Only way to decide where we would be heading. Bring out the dice! Continue reading