Saturday, 21 January 2012

Rugby story...


When Scrobs was much younger, more agile, more amenable to life in general, more athletic (that's enough 'mores' - Ed), Mr Scrobs Senior used to have a good friend who was well into his eighties.

Now this elderly gentleman was a charming, funny man, with a gorgeous, chuckling Swiss wife and a little dog whom they sometimes called 'Pisspot'. He lived in a lovely house straight out of Country Life, and had been a successful business man until the years began to dictate his time and regimen.

Now Mr Elderly was a rugby man though and through. Not for him the pathetic squealings of gormless footballers on increasingly large wages which were squandered in night clubs and boutiques (pre-flared trouser days these), he wanted to support the amateur game with no exception, and delivered homilies on how gentlemen played rugger, etc etc. He also held two season tickets in the old West Stand at Twickenham, almost on the halfway line and halfway back. They gave a magnificent view of the action, except for the small problem of a large pillar about 12' in front, which meant that he had to keep craning his head either way when play was about central, but that was a minor issue.

Because the years were beginning to tell on him, he was often unable to go to watch the matches, because it was a very draughty old stand, and was no place for arthritis and aching limbs over 90 mins, so he used to ring up Dad and tell him that the two tickets were his, for the face value, if he wanted them. They would cost about three guineas each.

More often than not, we would get a call around Friday afternoon with the offer, and we'd frantically collect warm clothes and scarves, Mrs Elder Scrobs would cook up all sorts of picnic items for the car journey, and a general feeling of excitement was felt by all at a time about now, when the Five Nations Championship matches were starting.

Dad always planned to park in a church drive close by, which always worked. They charged just a few bob, and we had a quietish spot for the pre-match picnic, maybe a couple of beers when I was old enough, before joining the festivities.

I went to lots of these matches, including the 1969 South Africa game, with the orange faced Peter Hain trying (and failing again), to vilify the sportsmen, and I also saw the All Blacks with their giants in action. We usually hated the French, love-hated the Welsh, (I'd spent several years in a Welsh boarding school, and therefore had two hats, both of them English...), we wondered if the Scots would ever win anything, and loved - occasionally - the Irish because Dad worked for Guinness. We had heroes such as Bob Hiller, David Duckham (whom I email occasionally, as he runs a Sporting Dinner Club), Ron Jacobs etc. They were all up there with God.

So fast-forward to nowadays, and when I get a chance, and when someone is generous enough to call with an invitation, I get just as excited about the trip, and begin to reminisce about the Old West Stand bar, and how nobody really wanted to leave until well after dark. And, another reality check also arrives in the equation.

I've just checked on the prices of tickets, and those same seats (or at least the same positions in the new stand), would cost £357.50 each!

Pisspot's Master would not be too happy about that, and neither would Dad actually...

12 comments:

Philipa said...

Lovely story, Scrobs and you must be well placed to know the differences between the English and the Welsh.

My fave Max Boyce is 'I Was There'. I used to have it on a CD in the car but can't find it on Youtube :(

rvi said...

Agree with Pips, nice story and the video made me giggle. But I think I still prefer Flanders and Swan's version: The English, the English, the English are best. I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest.
*dives under table*.

Notwithstanding (or indeed notwithsitting!) I think that anybody who is daft enough to pay over 350 quid to sit for a couple of hours watching grown men grope each other and chase a peculiar shaped 'ball' around must have had all their common sense knocked out of their heads playing rugby as children.

Did I ever tell you I was coming down in a lift in a hotel in Brisbane a few years ago when it stopped half way down. Six GIANT youngsters, not one under at least 6'5" got in and we continued downwards. I am not exactly short, but my eye level was at about belt buckle level with these guys. There was a coach waiting for them outside the front door and, in answer to my question, the driver informed me that it was an All Blacks team on tour. They sure grow 'em big in NZ. Must be all the lamb and chips they consume.

Philipa said...

Agree with @rvi - the Flanders and Swan version is better. Thanks for that :-)

Thud said...

Working on a night club door many moons ago we considered refusing entry to the under 21 Samoan team, now at the time I was pretty handy but I do know my limits!...as an aside gong hey fat choi from us anglo Chinese here to you and family.

The Lakelander said...

If you think that's expensive, buy tickets for Bernie Ecclestone's little circus.

Seating conditions - wherever you are - are usually disgraceful and you are ripped off at every opportunity by people selling cold drinks and food.

Still, it all helps to keep his daughters in the style to which they have become accustomed.

Will I be signing up for Sky so that I can watch it all in 2012? No chance!

Philipa said...

Suddenly seats at the ROH don't seem bad at all.

Scrobs... said...

Ha ha Pips! Marvellous, and much cleaner than the 'Welsh Christmas song...'!

Scrobs... said...

Colin Meads used to train by running up a hill with a sheep under each arm Reevers.

That's enough sheep stories...

£350 notes is far too much.

Scrobs... said...

Thank you Thud! Enjoy your New Year!

Apparently, Willie John McBride was with the Lions on tour somewhere South one year.

There was a knock on his door, and the harassed manager stood there complaining about the team who were making a huge noise and wrecking the place downstairs, and he was calling the police.

Willie looked up from the book he was reading, put down his pipe and said "And how many policemen will that be be coming here then...?"

Scrobs... said...

And also he keeps a mean ship in Biggin Hill too Lakes!

We were trying to get a dev going there, and he was nearly at the top of our list to tap up.

That is, after talking to all the Arabs who have their planes serviced there, in hangars with floors off which you could take your repast...

Nick Drew said...

gad I remember the old West Stand: when the crowd really got going you thought it would collapse beneath you

but that was the drumming of feet on wooden boards: the lack of 360-degree roofing over the terraces meant the shouting & singing didn't reverberate like it does in the new concrete monstrosity and for that reason (as well as not needing to fear imminent collapse) I prefer the new

provided someone else is paying ...

(and if the carpark lunch is good & the hip-flask is successfully smuggled in, one can collapse over a 'coffee' in the carpark afterwards)

Scrobs... said...

When we went there in the sixties Nick, there was only an open terrace to the south.

I well remember a pal rushing out several minutes before the final whistle, going up to the West Bar, and ordering 20 pints to jump the queue! He usually was left with several and little return as well...

People just didn't want to go home after these matches!

But that bloody pillar was a nuisance...