Saturday, 21 January 2012
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...