Once the plane landed at Dublin International Airport on a cloudy Thursday morning, I could feel the damp Irish air and I knew I was in for a wild journey. Within one week of living in Belfast, I had traveled all the way from Navan to Glasgow. With hopes of playing and refereeing upon my stay, I know I’m in the right place for both. My favorite part is that rugby is the reason, my life is now 100% revolving around rugby and I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED.
Walking into the Belfast International Airport I was not fully prepared for what the Heineken Cup game in Glasgow would hold. In line for security, I noticed all the red, black and white support of the Ulster fans making the trip across the pond. Little did I know that we would be in the airport much longer than on that little flight over.
Naturally, we found our way to the bar and I ordered a Guinness, of course! Sipping down my delicious brew, Philip, Jennifer, John and I reminisced about the Panther Rugby Tour with my college team back in 2008. After coming to the conclusion I was their favourite American, we then discussed our love for the Green Bay Packers… and how only Packer fans would wear cheese on their head in support for their team. Comparing Ulster comradery with The Pack, I now realize that both fans are in it for the long run and will do anything in loving support of their team.
Soon enough we made our way to the gate to get on a plane to Glasgow which would last less than 40 minutes.
Wohoo! Land ho! It was exciting to see the sun above the clouds in flight, reassuring me that the sun does still shine over here. However, once we passed back through the clouds to land the sun disappeared once again. Making our way towards the Central Station for some lunch, I held up my American end of the deal and took some pictures of this remarkable place. Finally, two hours prior to kick off we headed to the game. In America, we would call this “tailgating” (you have to make sure to get to the game in plenty of time so you can be at least two beers deep before kick off). To my surprise, I was welcomed by The Famous Grouse mascot into the bar at the pitch! This is an inside joke to some of my American friends and they will forever HATE that blended scotch whisky because of me. However, I was so excited that I drank that pre-made Famous Grouse and cola in a can ALL NIGHT.
Meeting more and more enthusiastic Ulster fans as the bar got crowded, I bargained my way into purchasing an official Ulster beer carrier with whatever the coins I had in my wallet were worth. I don’t think I paid more than 3 pounds which I thought was quite a good deal… it was used anyways!
The game isn’t the highlight of my story, but only because we all saw it and I don’t need to tell you about the only try scored in the whole game. Plus Ulster won! That’s all that matters, right?! Post game beers in the bar at the pitch was even more rowdy than before. Ulster fans outnumbered the Warriors as we waved our flags around and step-touched across the dance floor. Hard to believe, but the band eventually stopped playing and we were given the hint to get out. We were going to hit up a pub on Sauchiehall Street, but I guess they’re all dance clubs and apparently Ulster jerseys don’t make the dress code. So after a night cap Guinness at the hotel bar we finally stopped celebrating and went to bed.
Saturday morning was a little rough I have to say, but nothing a little water and ibuprofen can’t fix. We found a great restaurant on that famous Sauchiehall Street so I could get a meal to soak up the rest of the Guinness left in my stomach. With a little extra time to kill we contemplated going to the mall or a pub… I’ll let you guess which one won. In conclusion to my wonderful trip to Glasgow, I just want to reiterate what an awesome time I had and how much fun rugby always is. I thank John, Philip and Jennifer for being such wonderful hosts and I can’t wait until next Friday to do it all again!
Here’s my photos from the day!