If I had to present a paper on August, the weather would feature heavily in its content. To date it has played pretty much abysmal with only a brief spell of warmth at the end of this week enlightening the gloom.
Take today, Sunday 12th August, I had planned to follow up my Tour De Islandmagee on Saturday with Le tour De Drumlins, Co. Down the following day in the company of my younger brother and near neighbour Brian.
Crusin’ With Kingsmoss
Having seen an ad in the FRU site calling all pedalaires to fund raise on behalf of Larne RFC by pedalling their way round Islandmagee on Saturday 11th August, I immediately rallied to the cause.
Some forlorn attempts at recruiting my fellow FRU members seemed pre-destined to fail abysmally with the ubiquitous Mr. Love belatedly offering his apologies for a no show.
On a windy but warm Saturday morning I arrived in Glynn to find an almost empty Larne RFC car park. I might have went home at that point had it not been for the timely presence of Ivan Cooke, the organiser and Kings Moss CC member.
As it were, 26 hardy souls including myself set forth from Glynn on the Le Tour De Islandmagee. Our little peloton comprised mainly of Kings Moss CC members sparkily presented in their blue with yellow striped kits and a sprinkling of Yellow Arrow cyclists.
The Yellow Arrows appear to be cycling’s answer to the Red Arrows but without the smoke and acrobatic displays. The back of their shirts look like the Yellow Pages with a long list of tours printed out stretching back to the last century.
I think I spotted at least one FRU tourist amongst them, the Jim Carrey lookalike. The lap of Islandmagee was itself uneventful with a pit stop for sarnies and chocolate at Browns Bay and a nasty little hill just after it.
Upon return to Glynn and Larne RFC there was just time for a burger or two and a quick look at Larne RFC in pre season training mode. It seemed to be the usual mixture of youth and experience, de-rigeur in most junior clubs these days.
Well that was my minimal contribution to club rugby. I would like to thank Ivan Cooke of Kings Moss for all his efforts in organising the cycle which passed off without mishap given the coast road was busy and we had a few youngsters in our party.
Well done Ivan and Kings Moss, decent bunch of lads.
The Last Time This Season …
That you’ll see sunshine, shorts and sunglasses at Ravenhill?
Well alright a touch pessimistic possibly but given the rain, wind, sun and shunt weather we have had, it’s a distinct possibility.
Resplendent in my shades shorts and clasping a match ticket my first destination of the season was the beer tent.
We had been warned there are changes afoot and oh my gawd, what a difference a summer of damp weather makes to the level of expectation.
Gone was the seasickness brought on by an apple orchard flapping in the wind at the side of the tent.
It has been replaced by a panelled and laminated bar top and mod cons such as a tv screen. The final glued joint in this new and somewhat startling transformation was the standard of the beer!
As it happened I didn’t feel ill after a pint and that was the litmus test for the Heineken. Mind I had to wait for it to be poured, but given my rude health after imbibing I didn’t mind at all!
As icing on a small cake, the catering manager from my work restaurant arrived in full evening dress and promptly purchased a pint, a sure sign things have taken an upturn.
…and then there was a match
I can confirm a match took place, once the unfamiliar surroundings of the panelled bar had been accounted for.
I may be hyperventilating here but I seemed to think that was a close to full strength Tigers team out there with Ulster fielding a youthful backline and Niall O’Connor assuming almost veteran status, such was the baby mix around him.
In the forwards there was a neat compendium of veteran and youngster with Robbie Diack being one of my stand out players and Callum Black, catching the eye and a few Tigers players with his work in the loose.
Whilst one wouldn’t wish to read too much into this game, bearing in mind there were standout performances against Harlequins last season at this stage, there was still plenty to enthuse.
Surprisingly the scrum figured largely given the legend in his own lunchtime, Castro was propping for the Tigers and was once again second best.
The forwards seemed to be playing a slightly different game to last season and look far more readily to offload.
Unfortunately in the backs some were too busy offloading to notice that the opposition had noticed the same thing. The result was the Ulster forwards looked a trifle deflated to have to trudge back down the pitch after their good work moments earlier.
These are things that will be ironed out as the season gets under way and hopefully Ulster will utilise their full squad of players as the season progresses.
The Ancient Mariner Sails into the Sunset
I have just learned today, Saturday 18th August 2012, that the Ancient Mariner, aka Cables, aka Stanley has passed away. Cables as most of us knew was as crusty as they come but also likeable for it.
I didn’t know him well but we shared a few jokes over the years on such surreal matters as Lake Delia in the Ravenhill car park.
I’m disappointed I didn’t hear sooner of his untimely demise but the best I can say is, so long big man, black was white and white was black for you, there was no in between.
Getting a Leg Up
As some of you may have seen in the response section of my last blog.
Yes folks, some people actually read it!!
Le Paul has had the plaster cast removed from the leg and is now, even as I type, taking some swimming lessons.
He is hoping to take a party of them’uns over there down to Castres to hopefully meet up with us’uns from over here, for the latest instalment of Ulster’s Heineken odyssey.
Last time he did that was to Toulouse which saw Trevor Brennan lose it and an Ulster fan cop it.
Often wonder whatever happened to that chap Bamford. Apart from getting some compensation from the tabloids and Irish papers, did he ever go to a rugby match again.
Time to Take Responsibility
With the season still to formally warm up, in the competitive sense, it is left to me to reflect on issues which affect most of us.
The latest ad showing a drunk staggering on the edge of a kerb and an enjoinder to drive responsibly is taking the piss, pardon the pun.
When are some people going to take ownership of their lives and take responsibility for their own irresponsibility?
C u next week!