So, the weekend that British Football had been waiting for – Giants vs. Dolphins at Wembley, needless to say that for the Gladiators it got of to an inauspicious start…
As I sat in the kitchen, waiting for Mark to pick me up ready to head for the school, and the pre-arranged minibus, the clock ticked on… and on… and on… It was already 7.25, and we were due to meet at 7.30. I ring him… “I’m just having some breakfast, trying to work out what to wear” he says.
“Mark, we need to be there in 5 minutes”.
“Why? What time is it?”
“My clock says 6.25”.
“No, you’re wrong…”
Many expletives followed as he grabbed a coat and rushed out of the door. Turns out dear old Mark had turned his clock back 2 hours, rather than 1, and so was in fact more in tune with the people of the Azores, or of the Cape Verde Islands, than he was with us in jolly olde England.
So, we rush to the school, and to our surprise (well, not really, to be honest we expected some kind of cock up!) there was no minibus. Apparently whoever used it the day before hadn’t returned it. Needless to say, Chairman Dave was less than pleased. So, we crammed into cars, Simon Wilkinson played BA Baracus in the Gladiator van, hauling all the speakers and DJ equipment up to the Green Man. I stayed with Mark and was joined by Paul Brunsden and Steve Pinner. So, we venture down the A12 and on to Wembley.
At least 4, possibly 5 illegal U-turns and a dozen annoyed motorists later we locate the Green Man and park. I say park, what actually happened was that Mark moved his car onto the grass as instructed, got stuck, and in true Gladiator style uttered the immortal words, “Sod it, that’ll do”.
Now, at the Green Man there was work to do. We set up a large outdoor bar, a large stand for SPPSS, a kit supplier run by a very enthusiastic Aussie, all the DJ equipment, the bucking bull, the Gladiators stall, and watched some Germans unload box after box of stuff for their clothing stall. Germans, seem to get everywhere.
Anyway, the party was a big success, and saw players from Sussex, Bedford, Farnham, Hull, Ipswich, Essex, Coventry, Edinburgh, Oxford, Kent, East Kent, Andover, Plymouth and an entire bus load from Shropshire, and that’s just the shirts I recognised! People ate, drank and were merry, (particularly so when the Kukri Allstarzz came on) and the event served as a fantastic warm up to the game itself.
There were a couple of golden moments – Chairman Dave interviewed by Nuts TV, and now apparently we have pre-game entertainment at Broad Lane, including professional singers belting out the national anthem. Hmm… Also, credit to our very own Leo Beckford who took second place in the bull riding competition.
So, on to the game itself. Fairly wet and wild, loads of running, mainly because not a single New York receiver knew how to catch, and it turned into a good old fashioned game of muddy smashmouth football, loads of running between the tackles, and lots of hits going in. Ted Ginn Jr’s TD catch was a definite highlight though, especially as it happened right in front of us (I’m in the picture somewhere, so you can see how close our seats were!).
So, all in all a good day, rounded off by Brunny and I having to push Mark’s car out of the mud to get it moving again!