The Olympics Diary – Day Three – The Fast and The Furious

Fourteen years ago to the day I stood in front of my close friends and family and agreed to wed the Current Mrs Fuller. Despite her claims yesterday that going to watch the Tennis at Wimbledon was the “best day of her life”, it was a day full of fantastic memories for me and one I look back on every 1st August with fondness. Every year we try to celebrate it in a different location. In recent years we have had the excitement of a day on Barry Island, the canals of Birmingham and even a trip to see Cardiff City v Valencia. I know how to spoil a girl.

But this year what better way to celebrate our XIV Anniversary than a trip to the Olympic Park to get our daily fill of history. The ticket gods had been kind to us and we had manage to snaffle a couple of Water Polo tickets to go with our Handball ones (many thanks to the Daggers Diary team who had procured those for us last year).

Handball – now there is a game I would love to see more of in this country. I had been lucky enough during my time spent in Copenhagen to see the game played first hand in one of the best domestic leagues in the world and had loved watching the fast flowing game. I may have been slightly swayed in my admiration for the game by the fact the two teams I watched were young, female and blonde but even so it was a great event. Hopefully the packed arena in the Olympics will kick-start an increased interest for the sport in this country.

Water Polo on the other hand I had no idea what to expect, neither did any of the Fuller girls. I must have looked convincing when I told the Littlest Fuller’s that the game was basically Handball played on inflatables in the pool. They believed me and an idea for a new Olympic sport formulated in my head. Everyone I spoke to about the game told me it was “nasty”….The girls had seen a couple of games on Monday afternoon and confirmed that the female version was in no way ladylike.

An early start saw us drop the Littlest Fullers off at their child minders before we made the very easy journey to the OIympic Park via the DLR from Woolwich Arsenal. It seems this was the route into the park that the public ignored because every time we used it it was empty. Just over thirty minutes from leaving the house we were walking through security into the Park and heading for the Copperbox. Continue reading

Here comes the girls

Mike Miles brings us his adventures from the Olympics.

Like countless thousands of others I applied for Olympic tickets. The usual suspects: athletics, swimming, tennis, ladies beach volleyball. And what did I get…. Football at Old Trafford. This meant I didn’t get the chance to re-apply in subsequent ballots as I had got something. ….

But grumbles against LOGAC aside, the number of unsold football tickets across the country has been well documented, so for a football –fan at heart, here’s a chance to see some real football at a reasonable price.

There is a programme on Radio 4 called “I have never seen Star Wars.” The premise is that a “celebrity “is invited to see or do something that they have managed to avoid so far in life. Imagine Private Eye editor Ian Hislop buying a pair of jeans and you will get the flavour.

Well I have never been to a women’s football match, and this time around Team GB are fielding a women’s as well as a men’s team in the Olympic football tournament. They were down to play their second Group game against Cameroon at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. And what made for a more enticing prospect was that the preceding match set Brazil ladies against their New Zealand counterparts. Continue reading

The Olympic Diary – Day Two – New balls please

I hate tennis.  I must be one of the few people in this country who will not watch one single minute of the Wimbledon championships.  On the day when Andy Murray took on Federer I went to cricket.  I hate the plastic fans who are Murray/Henman/Rudeski’s biggest fans today, yet pay no interest in the sport for the other 50 weeks of the year.  Attendances at Davis Cup matches when held in the UK bear this out.

So I wasn’t really interested in the whole Tennis competition in the Olympics.  In some respects I do not see why it should be included (similar reasons to Football), but then again the Olympics is designed to celebrate the best sportsmen and women in their respective events.  What I do not understand though is why Tennis and Badminton are in the Olympics, yet Squash doesn’t.

I am married to a wonderful women.  We are compatible in so many ways, but in some aspects we are poles apart.  She is a Northern lass and so has some strange ways which over time I have managed to cleanse her of, and fortunately neither of my children have picked up words like booook, say phrases like “now then” instead of “hello” and avoid chips with gravy on.  She also loves watching tennis.  Every year she pleads with me to try to get Wimbledon tickets.  And every year I tell her that I tried but they were simply sold out to those “bloody corporate suits”.

With our 14 year wedding anniversary approaching I was stuck for a suitably lavish display of my ongoing affection. That was before a knight in shining armour appeared.  “Would I know anyone who was interested in a £30 ticket for Wimbledon Centre Court?” popped the message up on my PC.  Bingo – that was the answer to all my prayers.  I could send the Current Mrs Fuller down to SW19, fulfilling her fantasies of drinking Pimms from the naked belly button of John McEnroe whilst I look like the best husband in the world.  Everyone’s a winner.

She was delighted and showered me with affection as any good wife should.  She then told me who she would be seeing.  Venus Williams (lots of grunting), Andy Murray (lots of sweating), Djokovic (no idea) and Maria Sharapova…..Woooah…back up there.  Hang on a minute – now that wasn’t playing fair. Continue reading

The Olympic Diary – Day one..It wasn’t about the football

I have to admit.  I was an Olympic skeptic.  In the run up to the start of the games I doubted our transport system could cope (especially after the disastrous attempts to handle crowds over the Jubilee Weekend in London, and of course any game at Wembley Stadium), I was certainly firmly in the “very disappointed” camp with my meagre allocation of tickets and had experienced first hand the shocking tactics of certain hotels in hiking their prices to obscene levels.

When major sporting events take place overseas, we (and by we I mean the Daily Mail) try to suggest that they are representing the nation in their disgust at the way we are being “ripped off”, yet when it is on our own front door it is seen as something we should get behind.  But more of that later.

One month before the games we had manage to have tickets for just the football in Hampden Park.  Then, as slowly but surely, ticket were released to the general public I was determined to attend as many events as possible.  This in itself was (and still is) one of the most frustrating processes known to man.  I think it is fair to say that anyone who buys tickets on a regular basis in this country does not have a good word to say about Ticketmaster, and for the Games it was (and still is) no different.

But as I made the long long walk across Windsor Racecourse on my way with the Fuller clan towards Eton Dornay, I was about to take my Olympic Games viewing to eleven different events.

All of these tickets had been acquired by daily (hourly in some cases) searching on the official website over the past few weeks, overcoming the frustrations of the crappy website saying there are tickets, when clearly there isn’t.  Tickets were acquired for the Athletics at 2.30am for that morning, a ticket for the first ever British female Olympic boxing match popped up on my screen at breakfast time after dozens of searches for the event had been fruitless, thanks to the power of the F5 button and finally, thanks to a Spurs fan who decided to head over to the US for their summer tour, the Current Mrs Fuller had the “best anniversary present ever” with a day on Centre Court watching Venus, Murray, Djokovic and Sharapova for less than the price of a burger and Coke at the Emirates. Continue reading

Olympic spirit

Last October I wrote about the farce of holding the Summer Olympics football tournament in such ridiculous venues, grounds that were too big and come the start of the games would be half empty at best.  Last Friday the organising committee (Logoc) announced the results of the public ballot for tickets for all event.  Well, actually most people knew if they had tickets or not because of the farcical way in which the process has been handled.

In their email to the unlucky million plus applicants they said:-

“Demand for tickets greatly exceeded supply in the sessions and price categories you applied for. Where sessions were oversubscribed, we undertook a random ballot to allocate tickets in the fairest possible way. We had applications for more than 20 million tickets, seeing huge demand across many sports. Two-thirds of all price categories were oversubscribed and went to ballot.”

The initial statement the Logoc put out at the start of the application process was that there was 6.6million tickets up for grabs. This proved not to be exactly true.  In fact 5.5million were available in the first public ballot – a staggering difference that in other circumstances would see our media crying “foul”.  Out of these 5.5million, 3.2million were allocated in the ballot leaving 2.3million left ready for the second phase that is a “first come, first serve” with priority to those who missed out first time round from Friday 24 June.  As if that wasn’t a hard enough kick in the teeth, it was announced that it would be via Ticketmaster, a company who had not exactly covered themselves in glory in the past in having enough bandwidth to handle the demand for tickets.

The statement seemed fair enough until to investigate what sports are left to try and get tickets for.  Of the 2.3million tickets left you have a choice from twenty three events, but a staggering 1.7million tickets still remain for the Football. By 1pm today (Friday 24th June) only tickets for Wrestling, Weightlifting, Boxing and  Volleyball remained….oh and of course the Football. So it looks like your only chance to see anything of the Olympics if you haven’t already got your tickets is to apply for tickets for the football*

July 2012?

Out of the 58 games to be played in the tournament in six randomly distributed venues on 13 days, how many do you think have sold out?  One – the final of the mens tournament.  In total there are 137 different pricing segments in the football, of which only 14 have sold out.  In fact if you still want tickets you can apply for a maximum of 30 still in all but 6 games. Continue reading