Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Team Of Banahans

Yesterday combined two of my favourite pastimes; going to watch sport and going to a gig. The sport in question was Bath playing at home against Newcastle Falcons. The gig in question was Ginger (from The Wildhearts) playing an acoustic gig with some of his friends. I think I got lucky in that my travel between Portsmouth and Bath, and Bath and Southampton cost £10 in total. What I didn’t factor in was how boring a near 2 hour train journey can get when you are by yourself. The journey started off somewhat badly when I got near to my reserved seat on the train to see that someone was sitting in it. Now, I would have been well within my rights to ask them to move but I opted not to. I figured it would be easier to wait for them to get off the train and take my seat back, or wait for the guard to sort it out. The guard checked the tickets and didn’t seem to care I wasn’t in my reserved seat so I stayed where I was, as I had a table and I was comfy. The only annoyance was the stranger on the table had a travel bag on the table (because it’s not like train companies provide places for you to put your luggage....oh right they do). I was accompanied on this journey by a comedy podcast called Nobody Likes Onions. So there was at least one good thing to come out of the long journey. Well, good up until the point where something is said that in private surroundings, would have attracted a massive laugh, but when you are on the train you have to stifle laughter until it hurts. One line caught me completely unguarded and I lost it. “Porn stars have Amazon wishlists? What do they want, a father?!”

I got to Bath just shy of 2 hours after leaving Cosham. I didn’t actually realise it was such a long journey until looking at train times when booking tickets. But that’s ok because the journey is worth it as long as at the end of it, there is a game of rugby. I got out of the station and looked around and immediately thought “shit, I have no idea where to go”. Having only 25mins till kick off, this wasn’t a good thing to not know where I was. I eventually started following people in Bath shirts and I ended up at the ground. It was fairly close to the train station but not knowing where I was, it was a daunting journey. I hadn’t been to The Rec in about 10-11 years, and I’ve slept a little bit since then. Anyway, I walked the long way round to the stand and tried to find a spot. After accidently ending up in the children’s area (hey, it wasn’t marked!) I located a spot and stood there for the game. Terracing is something which I’ve rarely experienced, and the last time probably was my last visit to The Rec. Before that it was when I was a kid, going to Pompey games with my Dad in the early 90s. I did not expect the terraces to be as busy as it was. I would get a different spot next time I stand at a Bath game and would try to arrive earlier.

The Rec is exactly how I remember it. I moan and bitch at Fratton Park being a shit stadium (and it is) but I feel The Rec has character. It’s very strange how I am so biased. Especially considering I have been to Fratton Park many times and The Rec only twice (actually, I might have answered my own question there). Anyway, I got a place in the terraces just as the game was about to kick off and I felt I was in a reasonable spot. I mentioned above about not knowing what to expect from terraces. I did think there would be less people in the stand than there were, so personal space was abandoned during the game. There were a couple of funny chants during the game; the one which sticks in my mind goes to the tune of The Beatles – Yellow Submarine:

Number One, is Banahan.
And Number Two, is Banahan.
And Number Three, is Banahan.
And Number Four, is Banahan.

The main annoyances came from the guys standing in front of me (one of whom was pretty large, more so than me) leaning back. I accept you need to move but constantly leaning back into me isn’t going to win you favours. What made the entire situation better was the reason I was there – the game. Bath had a dominating first half and went 29-0 up. An amazing start! Half time came with the score being 29-5 (Newcastle’s try was pretty good but the missed conversion pretty much explains why they are going down – because they are shite). Half time bought one of the most random, but probably one of the best things that has happened to me in a football or rugby ground.

During the first half, I was near some Newcastle fans. I’ve mentioned on posts previous how rugby fans all mix together so this wasn’t an issue for me (although one of them was a football fan and had no idea about rugby. He was deeply confused). Anyway, there was one guy who I mostly interacted with. This included some banter (despite wearing a Bath shirt, he said I was one of the Newcastle fans, and announced that to the crowd), him leaning on and hugging me as well as trying to use my shoulder as a coaster. He was pretty drunk I thought and he didn’t spill beer on me so fuck it, no problems as far as I’m concerned. Half time came; he patted me on the shoulder and walked off. I thought nothing of it and looked around contemplating movement. He came back with his friends and then he handed me a beer. We toasted the beer and he said to his mate, gesturing at me “he’s got your beer!” I thought that it was a practical joke and all a part of earlier banter. Actually it transpired he got the pint for me for being a dick in the first half. I’ve said this in private conversation and I’ll say it here – he wasn’t anywhere near as annoying as the people in front of me. This just adds to my argument that rugby crowds are so much better than football crowds. Interestingly, the football fan I mentioned earlier was actually asking his mates questions like “when does the violence start?” and “don’t you guys want more agro?” – these questions were met with responses such as “that shit doesn’t happen with a rugby crowd. Awesome response to a really stupid question.

The second half was slower for a Bath fan. We got a penalty to make it 32-5 which was a much nicer position to be in. At this stage, Bath scored, or appeared to score a try. The ref called for it, or seemed to call for it. The play went back to the middle of the pitch but no points were awarded. Newcastle scored another try and scored a harder conversion than the first one they missed and the score was 32-12. Over the course of the second half, there were a lot of sloppy errors, but also another Bath try, penalty and conversion taking the score at full time to 42-12. A superb and well deserved result as far as I’m concerned and I was very pleased to have travelled to Bath for this game. I’ve not mentioned it yet but this was the last professional game of England World Cup 2003 Winner Danny Grewcock. He was superb in this game and I am sad to see him retire. I couldn’t hang around for the entire goodbye as I had a train to catch so I could get to St Denys, where the Talking Heads is. I briefly dosed off a few times on the train before I wasted about 30mins of my time and lost about 10 years off my life. I got off at Romsey, to change for St Denys.

The first thing I noticed when I got settled on the platform of Romsey station was there was nothing on either platform informing train users of when the next trains were due. Another thing which caught my eye was that at 18.50pm, everything was locked and there was no sight of another person (staff) anywhere. That to me is shocking service. This makes this station worse than Hilsea train station (and for anyone that knows Hilsea station, it is pretty terrible). As there wasn’t any way to find out at the station when the next trains were due, I decided to go smoke and boot up the National Rail app on my phone – thinking that this would have the most up-to-date information and could tell me when my train was. It did – 19.07 was when the train was due. At 19.07, no train arrived. I waited a minute then rebooted the app to see if it was delayed to find that the entire service had been removed from the listings – cheers! Then after another minute, a one carriage train pulled up at the other platform. I darted over to this platform, assuming this was my train. I was told that it was not and it was heading back to Salisbury. The train then proceeded to leave the station the same way it entered. I’ve not seen that happen before (aside from at stations where you hit the end of the line). Eventually another train turned up which was my train. No idea when trains are coming, trains just don’t arrive, unmanned from god knows when – Romsey station is a fucking disgrace and I would advise you to avoid it if you can.

Anyways, eventually I got to St Denys station which meant that gig times were a coming. I knew exactly where to go this time as it was a simple straight path. However I decided to be smart and buy myself a sandwich. So I went off the road I know and walked off to hunt food. After getting lost, I found the venue and somewhere to buy a drink and a sandwich. It is somewhat annoying when that happens, but hey, at least I’m not still lost. The rain at this stage was a right arsehole, so getting to the shop was a nice relief actually as it meant being inside. There were people coming in after me to buy alcohol and one looked about 10 – I felt old. Anyway, I bought my sandwich and left. I stood outside in the rain to eat it which on reflection was a stupid idea, but oh well. I walked away from the shop and entered the Talking Heads. It was gig time!

To read my review of the gig, grab that mouse of yours and click this link! REVIEW – GINGER @ THE TALKING HEADS.


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