Tuesday, August 27, 2013

London Part 1 - Egg Chasing

So for the first part of an un-missable double-headed weekend in London.

Saturday was the 7th or 8th time my rugby league team, Hull FC, had got to the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.  For those not familiar with rugby league, which I guess is all my friends and readers not from oop north, this is the rugby league equivalent of the FA Cup.  Except it is arguably the most important trophy in rugby league because if you win the league (sorry, Super League) then you haven’t actually won the league – all you have done is finished top.  The top 8 teams (of 14) then have a play-off to decide who is the grand champion.  How English.

We have never won at Wembley.  We did win when it was in Cardiff, and we won a replay at some random ground up north once.  For my Dad in particular, it was of the utmost importance.

We were not favourites - for comparison Hull FC vs Wigan is like Hull City AFC vs Manchester United.

We started brightly, for the first 2 minutes.  Then Wigan who have won the trophy approximately 598 times, came back strongly, but couldn’t break our defence until later in the first half, with a try and a conversion to go 6-0 up.  Yes, we have tries in rugby league.  Tries and tackles – none of that kicking it down the other end constantly shite in the gay whisky-drinking land owners version of rugby down south.

6-0 at half time was commendable and we were still very much in the game.  A quick pint to replenish our thirst which unlike the hooligan game of football, one can drink in one’s seat as nobody at rugby fights, except the players.

However the second half was one of constant frustration.  Again, a bit of explanation for my southern friends, you get a set of 6 tackles in rugby league – once the team has been tackled and held to ground 6 times consecutively, without making an error such as dropping the ball forward (a knock-on), the ball is handed to the opposition for their set of 6 tackles.  Normally after the 5th tackle the ball will be kicked down the field to gain extra territory.

Hull decided to drop the ball consistently on the 2nd or 3rd tackle during the second half, which meant that Wigan were kindly given the ball far too often.  They struggled to take advantage but did get two penalties to make it 10-0.

Defeat was inevitable as we were crap.  Wigan scored a very late try to seal it – but not before roughly 15-20 of our fans a few rows back decided to have a decent scrap to liven things up.  No stewards and no police (rugby fans don’t fight so not required), it was eventually sorted out by other fans.  Apparently someone spilled someone’s beer.

Other typical Hull traits was every single person in front of me at the bar questioning the cost of people and fellow Hull fans all dripping with sweat on the Bakerloo line.

It was still a really enjoyable day out despite defeat, plenty of beers were sunk and some nice pubs around Baker Street discovered.

A surprising discovery was that Strawberry & Lime cider has gone from a poof's drink to a man's drink in just one year.

For those with some interest in rugby league, the World Cup is in this country at the end of 2013 and England have qualified along with Australia and a load of countries nobody has heard of such as New Zealand and Wales.  You can still buy tickets for all of the games I believe, and there are two semi-finals on the same day at Wembley with tickets from the bargain price of £20 for both games.  I have tickets for the final in Manchester – cannot wait to say I have been to a World Cup Final (as I will never have £10million to afford a football World Cup Final!).