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A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
11 June, 2008 22:37
Watching too much sport on TV can seriously damage your health. It was the South Africa vs Wales game last Saturday afternoon that sent me spinning into a deep coma. If there had been the facility provided by the NHS then I would have been whisked away to a hospital bed where anxious nurses and doctors would have gathered around attempting to revive me with the theme music from Match of the Day, whilst a brain wave machine flat lined away.

"We've lost him Doc", one nurse shouts....."Re run Bristol City's play off finals against Hull....tho' on second thoughts, maybe not...."

In reality, I awoke from the comfort of my next door neighbours reclining armchair to see that several tries had been scored, all of which I had dozed through, and wearily vowed to never watch another game of rugby....for at least....a week?

Things had started brightly that day with me rising early, itching a bit and so deciding to do a dust busting shake out of my blankets and a bit of vacuming of my bedroom. The cleaner is a very old 50's job that sucks like some old granny and has a fearful grip. Along with beating my mattress this inadvertently caused my next door neighbour to be irately awoken, but I had to get things going so I could watch Ireland Vs New Zealand at 8.30 am. That game was interesting. Although the All Blacks will, no doubt, savage poor little Rob Andrew's England this weekend.

Afer the Ireland game I took a brisk trip up to Tesco's where I bought a beautiful mauve flowering potted plant for 10 pounds, whilst on the TV the cricketers were busy in a Test match. Then came that Wales game. At the end I stumbled back to my own blessedly limited five channel only TV and watched the opening game of the Ingerlunt free European Football championship. It looked as if a team in red, Switzerland, the hosts, were playing a team in white... but it kept resembling Bristol City in the play offs.... zzzzzzz.

However, I took no further interest in the rugby, The Saxons versus Canada, was it and the Scotland "A", ( what does A stand for?) How about the ....I give up....but there should be a heath warning about too much at Woodstock when they said "look out there some bad acid going around it's the brown tabs man....".

The next day was so sunny and warm that I decided to boldly leave my TV room and catch the train down to Weston with my bike, and cycle out through the woods and cliff top road through Kewstoke to Sand Point. How very very lovely, the flowers, the wind, the sea, the sunshine. I lay out on a secluded beach surrounded by driftwood and got a bit over roasted and got home in time to watch Jamie Hamilton in his racing car have a prang in the world's first traffic jam at a set of red lights in a Grand Prix and then yet another football match. Germany vs Poland?

I was, the next day, a little the worse for wear due to sun burn. Perhaps its safer being an armchair potato after all? Does any of this make sense? You tell me.

Re: A Health Warning
Bod (IP Logged)
12 June, 2008 08:59
Total bollox - in a very Billy Blessing style - are you perhaps related?

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
15 June, 2008 09:11
Following Bod's kind words of encouragement I thought you might like to read more of my further musings, although a word of warning, apart from a mention of Martin Haag, most of which I write is about the Summer Rugby Internationals, Bristol Rugby Club, Gloucestershire CCC, Somersetshire CCC and my potted plants. Feel free to express your satisfaction or otherwise. See you all at the Memorial Ground next season?

A poster on the unofficial website going by the nom de plume of Centenary Pete, informs us that the identity of the new Chief Executive Officer of Bristol Rugby Club is due to be announced, tomorrow, Monday morning. Centenary Pete had earlier speculated that this lucky man,( assuming it is to be a man and not a lady, and why not Moya, the widow of the late and lamented former CEO, Dave Tyler), shared the same intials as Centenary Pete, namely CP. This lead to frenzied speculation that the appointment would go to the redoubtable blonde haired and jutting of jaw "Head of Operations", Corin Palmer and was greeted with all the enthusiasm aroused in 1940 by the likelihood of Hitler invading England.

Personally I think that the greatest contributor to success is fear of being fired so that that might make sense, but then yesterday Centenary Pete joyfully informs us that it is not to be Mr Palmer after all , whilst another poster, One Eyed Jack, playfully suggests that it is to be Nic De Scossa, assuming the latter doesn't end up doing time in one of Her Majestys Holiday Camps as a result of his latest adventures into the world of alleged phony ticket touting on a grand scale.

So, I awoke this morning to the pale light of dawn, restlessly wondering what the latest nightmare I had been dreaming was about and trying to figure it out, and gripped by a strange mid summer madness, a sense of mild forboding. It was only 4.30am and a week away from the longest day, but it still doesn't feel like summer to me.

The best remedy to lift the depression is to get up and face the day, and just as the dreams are vivid on awakening, they quickly recede in the warm shower from one's conscious mind as surely as the next wave wipes clean the once clear foot prints from behind one as one walks along the sands.......of time......zzzzz...

But then, as one struggles to recall the dream and fails, and then attempts to remember what game of football one was watching the night before. Was it ......Russia....against.......Greece or was it Spain against Sweden... surely I should be able to remember that, or am I entering at the age of 60 into the early stages of senile dementia?

And then another thought gleefully enters my mind as I realise that there is a candidate for CEO that has the intials CP and that is of our previous Executive, that long in tooth and tobacco stained grisly old campaigner Colin Portch, who no one could argue did not have a successful track record. I imagine Mr Portch featuring in that memorable pop video by Michael Jackson for his song "Thriller" where an army of corpses have arisen from the grave and theatrically dance en masse in an seemingly unstoppable manner. Can I see Colin in the backgoround, skeletal of frame, smoke pouring from his pipe, mad eyed and glinting with two bottles of vino in either hand? Anything could happen and it probably will.

Meanwhile on the sporting front, Friday night at the County Ground sadly confirmed what we already know, and that is that Gloucestershire CCC, also known as the Gladiators are a very poor side who almost snatched victory from a strangely anonymous Warwickshire "Bears", until Glos construed to give away 75 runs in five error strewn overs to end in an unsatisfactory tie. One bowler sent down two beamers in a row and got banned from bowling for the innings, namely Anthony Ireland and Carl "Garbage" Greenidge lived up to his nick name sending down a series of long hops and full tosses and no ball wides, although he manfully bowled his next over or two on a reasonable line and length to restore his reputation somewhat.

Yesterday morning Saturday, in the rugby from down under in New Zealand, as predicted, after a bright start, England gallantly folded, despite the game breaking try being ten yards forward, something no one seemed to comment upon, as if it made any difference. I left out the Australia Ireland game. Anyone know the score, but returned to the TV to watch, surprisingly, not a bad game between Wales and South Africa.

Returning to potter about in the garden with my recently rediscovered succulent that had been enveloped by the encroaching monster hedge like bush beneath my bedroom window, and having been eaten down to its very stump by an army of "Thriller" type snails, it was back to the TV to slump through two more Euro Nations Cup matches, which is better than anything else on the box, which seems to consist of re runs of the Great Summer of Love followed by the Winter of Discontent and Overflowing Dustbins, courteousy of the Wicked Labour Government and The Evil Trade Unions.

Does nothing ever change? Haven't we been here before? Good old Crunchy Credit Crunch for breakfast, as share prices, house prices and repossesions, jobs, pensions and savings go "Snap Crackle and Pop". Along with Supertrams, Super stadiums and everything else that is Super. Yet why are why still surprised?

So its down the County Ground this afternoon for another 20 20 game of "Hit and Giggle", as our Somerset supporting friends disparagingly call it, or should it be, "Miss and Moan" considering their equally unaccountable lack of success in the commercially rewarding format of the game?

And as for who will be the next CEO of Bristol Rugby Club, who knows? Perhaps Alan Sugar will announce it on TV with a new series of the Apprentice? We've already had a string of "you're fired! Perhaps it's time for "you're hired!"

If my phone rings at 7.30 am tomorrow and it's Sir Alan, just as I get on my push bike and leave for work, my heart will be racing. "Could it be me afer all?" For someone, for sure, as Sven Erricson might say, it will be the start of a whole new "thriller" type ride, no doubt about that. Sit back and enjoy the ride is my advice.

Finally, on the future of our Captain of the Club, Matt Salter, surely he should be aiming to extend his career through the role of coach in some form or another. Could there be room for him at Bristol? He's too good a man to let go, but then Ben Sturnham and Martin Haag have fallen on their feet after their unexpected departures. Matt is a man who will be a hard act to follow. The team is in such a state of flux following our remaining at the Memorial Ground perhaps it would be better to pick the team and then announce the Captain. Things can only get better as Tony Blair gayly sang away to the popular hit tune of the day. Or can they?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 15/06/2008 09:27 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
wineman (IP Logged)
15 June, 2008 13:20

You got too much time.

Remember the saying, I didn't have time to write a short letter - so I wrote a long one.

Nuff said!

P.S. what was your point?
Matt Banahan 2010-11 adoptee
Focusing on the backs after 3 years of successful front row adoption

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
20 July, 2008 20:54
There's a fairy at the bottom of my garden....

....I was watching the latest game in the Tri Nations series between Australia and South Africa on next doors TV and it was, of couse, being played under the much maligned Experimental Law Variations, or ELVs, as the pundits abreviate them, and normally, as soon as I see the word ELVs, my brain just switches off in an act of self preservation, a bit like when someone tries to explain things like pensions, digital television , Ipods or downloading "tracks" etc. to me.

I leave it to the experts to understand. I just like to watch a game of rugby, as long as it isn't rugby league, which I promise, I have tried very hard to like but having actually seen a couple of games live, sorry, it's as dull and repetitive as the thing on the TV. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a vastly entertaining rugby union encounter from Perth, Western Australia, and, apart from a lack of endless pick up and drives and rolling mauls, I couldn't see the difference from our stodgy staple winter diet in the Northern hemisphere.

So ELVs or ELFs, or FAIRYS as I would prefer to call them, are welcome as far as I'm concerned, fairys being, "small supernatural beings with magical powers", as opposed to Elfs who are "mischievous". I use the word Fairy because it sounds nicer and slightly comic, and it is a variation of the verb "to vary", so I hope we can call them the Fairys, and anyway, it's nice to be "away with the fairys" isn't it.

So fairys it is? We shouldn't be so stick in the mud, literally, about improvements to the game. Rugby needs to evolve to compete in the market place with all other codes, not only rugby league, but American Football and soccer. Take cricket and its rapid embracing of the 20 20 game. Viewers vote with the on and off switch, and if you take the awful fare served up at Lords and Headingly in the last two Tests, you will see why crowds can desert a game quicker than Scotch mist. How many times have we got to see the obscure LBW law requiring the ball to pitch in line with the wicket to be out, even though the ball would have hit the wicket? How many times will batsman occupy the crease all day scratching around for a draw and suceeding? Why are Test Grounds always empty on the last day when a result might be served up? Even in tennis now, players have the right of appeal to Hawkeye. Why not let a batsman have the right to one appeal during his innings and a bowler similarly? That would stop all this jumping up and down and attendant sulking as the poor umpire is massively embarassed by the replay on the screen for all to see that, no, he didnt touch the ball, or no, the ball was missing the wicket or vice versa. Why be so luddite about things? Blazers adapt or die.

And so, as in the use of technology, rugby should embrace change to avoid the trench warfare that modern non fairy regulated games can, and has produced recently, notably in World Cup finals of late where the game is exposed to a crucial Global audience open to persuasion. Just because we are less likely to win isnt a good reason not to adopt the rule changes. By keeping the ball in play longer, those forwards run out of puff quicker and leave space for runners with the ball.

And talking of running, on a personal note, I've taken to jogging around the common in an attempt to lose weight. I was prompted to do so by a bit of a scary incident when I awoke a month ago to find I couldnt move my right arm and leg. "Oh dear" I thought, after shuffling around for a couple of hours none the better, "I'm a basket case". But Praise the Lord, I recovered within about four hours, and my doctor advised me to lose that blubbery fat.

And so, a few days later, on a bright sunny Sunday morning as I went walking, I began to run, slowly, for the first time for about 20 years and I kept going for a whole thirty minutes. And since then I've jogged every day around the common and started doing press ups. At first I could only do 6 press ups before collapsing, now I'm up to 12 a time, and I've actually started to "run" rather than jog. I have only a bannana for lunch and walk for 40 minutes around the river during my work break, and my weight has dropped miracously from a peak of 16 stone 12 pounds to 15 stone 5 pounds. I have at least another 3 stone to go. I went for a check up from the neck up at Frenchay and got a clean bill of health. Lovely gardens out there by the way and an interesting walk up the Frome valley whilst I awaited for the Doc to assess the results. So I may see you jogging around the common?

Cue Bod for mention of "dogging session"......

Re: A Health Warning
annie blackthorn (IP Logged)
20 July, 2008 22:46
William, I know its the off season, but can't you find something constructive to occupy your time?

You have been hoodwinked by those medicos into thinking that exercise is good for you! You'll be needing knee replacement's next!

Re: A Health Warning
Bod (IP Logged)
20 July, 2008 23:48
"I went for a check up from the neck up at Frenchay and got a clean bill of health."
I'd ask for a second opinion Bill!
Pah pah,.............wibble!

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
28 July, 2008 21:13
Thanks for the psychiatric advice Bod. Perhaps you could use these thoughts for further analysis. Do you charge much?

Stephen Jones remains in a state of denial

by WilliamBlessing
28 July, 2008 20:51

When I heard that the Bath game was being played at the Memorial Ground and was guaranteed, therefore, to be a sell out, getting a season ticket seemed the easiest thing to do so I went down to the Club Shop in the Arcade, Broadmead last Monday. I bought a club house end, season ticket, for 185 pounds.

The shop opens at 9.00am and the young lads down there were very helpful. The prices go up by 30 pounds a ticket by the 1st August, a Friday, so it made sense to buy early.

I gleaned the following information from them. Season tickets are going well, and including the 600 twenty year tickets at 2,500 pounds, the total stands near the 4,000 mark, the same as it was last year.

The Board are selling an unlimited number of 20 year tickets, so the offer still remains open to all.

The Shirt is to be unveiled, I believe , I could be wrong on August 1st, when prices go up, and with the new Sponsor. I presume the new name will be on it. It could be hoops, but the lads couldnt say yes or no.

Whilst you are there I recommend you buying a copy of Mark Hoskins's latest book, describing 50 great games that Bristol have been involved in starting with Swinton RFC in 1895 and bang up to date.

Mr Hoskins's displays his customary talent in illuminating the past with his well chosen words bringing the rich history of the club to life for us all.

Last Saturday morning, after having completed my 30 minute jog around the common I was able to settle down in front of next doors TV to watch a feast of sporting entertainment. As the opening overs were being bowled in the first of the 20 20 semi finals from the Rose Bowl Hampshire, on the other side of the World the Australian Rugby Union side were facing up to the intimidating spectacle of the All Blacks "haka" in front of a 51,000 crowd in Sydney.

I feared for the Aussie's as they sheepishly and respectfully acknowledged this, as ever, vulgar show of threat and animosity which seems to be losing its so called magical powers. Legitimised on the faux reasoning of it being "ethnic", I think it is demeaning to see a civilised person such as Ali Williams behaving like a drug crazed lout. Why ape the natives? The underlining sentiment is one of an evil threat despite whatever it's apologists might say, and it has no place in any "sporting" contest. However it seems to be tolerated by the majority which doesn't stop me from saying exactly what I think of it.

Therefore I was very proud of the way Australia matched and then trumped the All Blacks with a marvellous display of courage, fitness and skill. Like all bullies, the All Blacks and their equally venomous supporters and press are poor losers and they were, soon after their ignominious defeat, demanding their coach's head on a platter. They couldnt even blame the ref this time which makes a change.

To be fair to them, they did provide Australia with the ultimate challenge and this made the victory all the more meaningful. And the game was played under the Elfs, or Fairys, as I would prefer to call them. When you have two supremely gifted rugby teams such as these, no matter what rules you play under, the game is bound to be superb, but I thought the tap and go penalty gave the attacking side the momentum, and the game rose to a new level. There was no hiding place.

Stephen Jones and Stuart Barnes in the Sunday Times remain in a continued state of denial about how the Fairys have enhanced the game for both players and spectators alike. They have taken a position and attempt to justify it against the evidence on our screens over the past two Saturdays. I would fully understand if the Southern Hemisphere, which includes the three top world teams, decided to go their own way and left us in the North to carry on with our endless pick and drives, rolling mauls, and penalty kicks to touch and to goal.

No one is forcing us to implement the fairys. They are being trialled and we will have our chance to assess them. We might be able to even enhance them. But the evidence is clear. The Southern hemisphere wont be going back to the old rules so we may as well learn how to play with them, if we want to stay in the World game. Just for once we might learn something from our Antipodeans neighbours who so regally entertained us last Saturday morning.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 29/07/2008 07:19 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
03 August, 2008 11:08
When an Irresistible Force meets a Moveable Object....

If Sir Issaac Newton had been a rugby coach and not the world's top mathematical genius he might have discovered the Law of Gravity by being flattened by a series of flying headbutts as the All Blacks cleared out the ball at the breakdown. Instead he was tapped on his head by a falling apple. This left him with his brain intact to ponder the Laws of Nature, and the rest is History.

Australia were not so lucky and they are still trying to work out what hit them. The referee and his "assistant referees", no longer touch judges under the "fairys", didn't help much either, with a stream of straight errors such as a misinrepretation of the foot in touch when fielding the ball rule, giving the throw in to the attacking side, and later failing to punish not only head high tackles by the All Blacks, but late head high tackles, and late head high tackles with the flying forehead, instead punishing an Aussie for some reason which was unclear.

I think we need sub titles from SKY for next season, so that we can all be vaguely clear as to what and what does not result in a free kick or penalty, and whether repeat professional fouls, at which the All Blacks with a home town ref are past masters, actually ever leads to a sin binning. Yesterday apparently not. The Comedy Act by the Officials peaked with a last minute "try" awarded to the All Blacks when a blind man with a stick could have seen the ball had not been touched down, but thrown at the line.

The only thing that can stop the All Blacks winning the World Cup which is so blatently theirs by right, as they are the best rugby team in the World, and I mean it, is if they get used to blustering their way around the Officials until they come up against someone like Wayne Barnes who is actually prepared to Enforce the Rules, whatever they might be. For example, the contentious sin binning in the World Cup semi final against France in Cardiff of the All Blacks centre for cynically taking out the man and so denying the French a try was a "travesty" as far the All Black pundits and camp followers were concerned. In a World Cup final they could be unsettled by correct refereeing so what not invite Wayne Barnes to officiate in their Tri Nation games? The guy and his assistants yesterday were a joke.

That doesnt change the fact that the All Blacks yesterday put in a near perfect performance and the Aussies did well to keep the score down if not avoiding permanent brain damage. The only thing missing was any doubt about who was going to win.

And so to the cricket and the Test Match at Edgbaston. My two next door neighbours, both sporting pundits of the highest order, at least in their own minds, were convinced that after England had folded leaving South Africa 280 to win, England were now firm favourites. Having watched Glos at Cheltenham and knowing what a poor team looks like, I betted them 5 pounds each that England would lose. One of them, wisely on second thoughts, backed out, the other took on the bet and I am now sadly 5 pounds better off, although I would willingly have lot the bet, if I could have.

And at at Cheltenham Glos folded up on the fourth day, which was not a surprise to say the least. So betting wise, the big one armed weather bandit in the sky seems to be coming with two rains and one cloud for the next week. Searching on the Internet for bus and train time tables for a planned trip to Minehead and beyond leaves me staring at timetables for buses for the year 2005. I wonder?

The marvels of the internet permit me to see that Glamorgan second XI are at home on Monday August 4th in the stunning new SWALEC stadium, previously prettier named Sophia gardens in the Semi Finals of the one day trophy. It could be worth a visit if the sun is shining.

But all is not doom and gloom on the sporting front as I can report to my amazement that on consecutive days I have broken the World record for the Horfield Common Run, shaving 55 seconds off the previous record, set by me, a few weeks ago of 26 minutes and 05 seconds, coming in Saturday morning at 25 min 10 secs, and this morning, without particularly trying a further 15 seconds at 24 minutes 55 seconds. My next door neighbour is talking of taking up the challenge, but as of yet I'm the only one competing, so I remain undefeated champion. Thats what I call true sporting greatness!

Re: A Health Warning
Bod (IP Logged)
03 August, 2008 11:18
Is there a similar event in Peking where you might apply your newly found athletic prowess for Team GB?
Is there a Tienemen Square course you could compete on with other similar olympians? Although, given your amazing improvement recently I'm sure you'll be up for a dope test!

Re: A Health Warning
wineman (IP Logged)
03 August, 2008 22:51
Anyone else finds the WB postings so long and rambling they can't be bothered to read them?

The idea of the internet boards like is to promote rapid discussion - as in a pub - not listening to some guy droning on.

Now WB if you can start some decent concise postings which can make your point more succinctly I might respond on your subject.
Matt Banahan 2010-11 adoptee
Focusing on the backs after 3 years of successful front row adoption

Re: A Health Warning
Bod (IP Logged)
03 August, 2008 23:59
Leave him be wineman - he's our village nutter!
Because we live in a fast-food, quick fix, rapid response society does'nt mean that the long winded old dodderer should'nt be accomodated!

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
04 August, 2008 08:02
Dear Dr Bod,

Thankyou for your kind support and for your latest free diagnosis. It really has been a tremendous help to me in these difficult times. As for mr Wineman, my sincere aoplogies for indeed no doubt boring you, but my thread is entitled "A Health Warning", as I know my rambling style does not entertain everyone if anyone but myself, so I keep my comments, if I may, on one easy to avoid thread on this, the most illustrious, diverse, informed, literate and populated of rugby sites, with thanks to Coochie Coo, Bod, Gareth, Annie and oh so too many to mention...I hope this isn't going on too much like an Oscar awards speech.

However, regarding the refereeing and interpretion of the Elvs, and the use of the phrase in ERE's website name is "Every time ref, every time" giving us a clue as to their significance, a poster on the Saracen's site makes some well judged comments to my posting there.

I think it really is important in all seriousness that SKY consider giving us sub titles as to what ELVs are in force depending on the game and what leads to free kicks and what leads to penalties and sin binnings.

He writes, describing me as a "polemicist" which is an improvement on a simple "nutter" I believe.....

Re: Oz vs ABs
by TonyTaff Date: 04 August, 2008 00:31

The polemicist is right that illegal clearing out by the ABs went unpunished.

The farce with the line-out award was down to a Fijian being given his first two outings at this level - back to school.

Also, Lawrence, the South African referee, paid only partial lip-service to the edict of allowing a fair contest at the breakdown, both teams often got away with a bloke flopping down to 'seal off' the ball - though, occasionally, Lawrence DID ping it, and both sides were caught.

He also gave two full penalties (one each) when this version of ELVs mandate only the non-deterrent free kick, unless it is deemed intentional offending - Smith may have been guilty of this, but it wasn't clear that the ref had so decided, and there was even less excuse when the Blacks were so sanctioned.

What stood out, in this game, was the AB's ability to disrupt the Oz line-out. It seems the combination of two ELVs (both of which will be in use in the NH), no need to match numbers, and permissible pulling down of the maul have made a big difference. Not only is the defending team able to put as many guys in as they see fit, the emasculation of the driving maul as a threat has emboldened them to actually compete - some teams, with the throw in, seem to have forgotten how to win their own ball, during the years of mainly uncontested line-outs. I'm warming to these two ELVs.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
12 August, 2008 22:29
I know you are all facinated to hear about all things Bris and my own personal battle for fitness so I thought I would give you all a special treat with my latest thoughts and adventures on the common. Bod, please refrain from any comments about dogging, just for once.

A New Season Begins.......
Date: 12 August, 2008 22:00

I'd like to recommend to you the facility on the Official Bristol Rugby Web site provided by clicking on the "Bristv" option where it is possible to either listen or watch a series of interviews by the TV channel, Bristv, dedicated solely to Bristol Rugby Club. I was very impressed by the insight our Head Coach Richard Hill gave into the frightening intensity of pre season training. He has always had the unusual ability, not always shared by all in the sporting world, of speaking candidly yet with diplomacy, and not being afraid to share his knowledge with the rest of the world. This makes anything he says of interest. He's made some tough decisions and we are all aware that there isn't much room for sentimentality in this business.

So we stand at the threshold of a new era. A new captain, in a freshly painted Memorial Ground, so I am informed by the Gas Board's newsletter to us local residents. The new Footy Chairman, Mr Higgs, is determined to get the redevelopment back on track, so that means virtually anything can happen

Listening to our new captain's interview on Bristv confirmed my assumption that Joe El Abd is better doing his talking on the field than to a microphone. He mumbled away at a fearful rate of knots and I couldnt decipher more than one in three words. Fortunately we dont care about how he speaks to the press, as it's the score on the board at the end of the game by which we will judge him and his team. As Matt Salter steps down into the ranks, most pundits on these boards quietly and politely leave him out of their pre season selection. Perhaps he might surprise us, and not for the first time. But nothing will change the History Books which will record his unparalled success as Captain in these most difficult of times. He is, and will always be, a legend and we salute him for his achievements both on and off the field. Let us hope he can continue to do so.

So the new season approaches with our sending, for the first time ever, a specially picked team of 12, including our star player David Lemi, to attempt to win the Middlesex 7's, whilst at the same time taking on Exeter Chiefs this coming Saturday at their wonderful new ground Sandy Park. If you are thinking of going, and you arent on the Pope Mobile run by his Hilliness Father Chilly Mick, then catch a train perhaps. The ground is close to a branch line that leads from Exeter St David's down the beautiful banks of the River Exe estuary towards Exmouth. Why not make a weekend of it and stay in the picturesque coastal resort?

Richard Hill talks with insane intensity of the fat body mass ratio tests on returning players from their ten minute summer holiday. To us that means that spare tyre hanging over our trouser belt. You may be aware that I have been attempting to lose 4 stone in four months and return to 12 stone 12 pounds from an all time high of 16stone 12. So far in two months I have lost two stone, but the waist measurement has only fallen from 44 inches to 41. I am now using the half worn trousers that I had to discard on the way up. In 60 days I have run for 29 of them for 30minutes, my best time coming down from about 29 minutes 30 seconds to 24 minutes 40 seconds. However last Sunday I blew a gasket and went into an energy deficit crisis situation , so I am resting hoping that a creaking knee will recover at the same time. During my holiday period coinciding with the Cheltenham Cricket festival I have "beasted" myself up a Welsh mountain on a discarded railway line,converted to a cycle path from Abergavenny to Bryn Mawr, rising 1000 feet in eight miles, and also cycled about ten miles up the Taff Trail from Merthyr Tydfil to the resevoirs northwards, in the Brecon Mountains. I hope to describe these adventures in my "Rural Rides", if the muse takes me. Apart from that, the Cricket Festival delights as ever, even if dodging showers and flying cricket balls, as the daily pilgrimage on the train took me flying through the lovely Gloucestershire countryside and through the elegant streets of Regency Cheltenham to the College Ground.

And so, as Autumn draws near, we turn to our rugger heroes to lighten up our lives. Listening to Mr Hill talk, they mean business. Let's hope we can keep ever so quiet and surpise a few people who are in the back of their minds, writing us off. So will I be at Twickenham to watch the sevens or Exeter to watch the First XV? Or will I be in the garden recovering from a run around the common? South Africa take on All Blacks in the Tri Nations on SKY. Whatever, next weekend rugby returns to our back pages, and we can't wait, and we love our brave rugger team, Bristol Rugby,and we can't wait, and we love our brave rugger team and the dedicated staff at Bristol Rugby Club, the greatest rugby club in the world.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/08/2008 22:34 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
Bod (IP Logged)
12 August, 2008 23:48
There are a few errors in your quite informative report - let's start with:- "Bristol Rugby Club, the greatest rugby club in the world"
I throw it open to debate.
Otherwise quite entertaining!
thumbs down

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
13 August, 2008 07:57
Well thankyou Bod for your kind words. That had me quite surprised. I have to admit that I trembled at the sight of your name on the reply and I feared the worst, so apart from being accused of being hopelessly misguided, I am greatly relieved at your generous endorsement of my posting.

As you probably appreciate, I was being slightly provocative, as this posting is really meant for consumption by my fellow Brizzlers, who don't quite have the Worldly awareness of such sophisticates as yourselves and fellow Barferonians. We all think our team is the best in the World, and why not? I'm looking forward to the clash of the true Titans of world rugby, South Africa and New Zealand this Saturday. And in the meantime we hope you all come to the Memorial Ground for the Bristol Bath derby, and may the best team win! i.e Bristol.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
16 August, 2008 22:38
The Honeymoon is over.... Exeter Chiefs 15 Bristol 6

So we've enjoyed the summer long, it has been a bit "damp" to be honest, gaily throwing brightly coloured beach balls to our lovely young bride, followed by long lingering walks, arm in arm along the sea shore, holding hands as the sun sets, and although that first night of marriage wasn't a complete success in that the action lasted all of about three minutes...well no one's perfect.

But we've spent long enough in the gym admiring our lithe torso's and gimpy little weight lifting gloves, perhaps that peroxide blonde streak of hair is a little too much, and "should I wear my white or my golden boots? I don't know, decisions decisions...." (Ed. Get on with it, Blessing you fool........You know you might be annoying those Tiger fans of yours....on the Official Board)

But rugby players and their coaches have their feelings too.... as well as us humble scribes...and no one can ever accuse us of not wanting to do our best...yet despite the best of intentions, this defeat by Exeter RFC was the most humiliating and embarrassing performance since......the last time we played them back in the year we won promotion.

We played them at their thoroughly wrotten dump of an old ground in the centre of Exeter. The pitch, I seem to recall, was circular, not square. It had for a perimeter a sandy beach for mangy old greyhound dogs to run around. Was it a dog track? And an insane harridan of a woman on the tannoy spent the whole game shouting angrily at us. I was plunged into such a deep depression by that game that it finally ended with me being fired from my job for SouthEastWater,prounounced, "Wharta", for being a complete loony, would you believe.

Which left me free, thank God, to do what I what I really wanted to do, and that was follow Bristol on their travels in the great spring offensive of 2005 and we turned things around at Plymouth with a sensational performance, followed up by a desperate win at Coventry and the ritual sacrifice of the Exeter Chiefs, their shell shocked fans looking on with splendid Indian Head sets and all, by 70 points in front of the SKY cameras at the Memorial Ground, Bristol.

It left me feeling strangely deflated and concerned for their evident suffering. We all know how it feels to fail. We all know we have to pick ourselves up and start all over again. Even as I write, one of our players, Darren Crompton is feeling the torment of a broken ankle and many more players tonight will nurse torn muscles, battered bodies and wounded pride.

These players put themselves on the line. Who am I to criticise? Not I. More to encourage. But let us not gild the lily. Let's be honest. Our Bath friends mock us as being the clowns of the "Cabot Circus", the soon to be opened Mother of All Shopping Malls, in the centre of Bristol's Broadmead. (Broadmead meaning, by the way, the wide meadow. A lovely name, is it not?). Would we be lion tamers or trapeze artists of the circus? At the moment all we are capable of doing is shovelling sheet. But then somebodies got to do it.

On the train home, I asked my fellow supporters what I could say about the game and not be cruel. They said..."Well, we turned up". And so we did. And we all had a merry time. It was a fun day out, despite the rain. For that I thank the Exeter Chiefs in particular and the World in general, and beg forgiveness if I offend, or worse, bore you with my ramblings.

As for the game, we couldn't control the ball. Our errant Kiwi Hooker, who last season so encouraged us with his fire and new found accuracy throwing in, once again had his radar on the blink. If he had been in charge of directing our missiles in a nuclear war they would have narrowly missed Buckingham Palace rather than hit the Kremlin... God forbid.

So what do we do? We go back to the training ground and look forward to playing Bath and fire into them with all the fury of a team possessed and then when we come up against the Leicester Tigers, who some of their supporters on their rather precious and slightly pompous Official Board, but not on the Unofficial Board I hasten to add, have, I suggest an over inflated opinion of their own literary merits.

Let us give them something meaty to "chew" over. Our heads in their mouth? We shall see.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 16/08/2008 23:49 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
28 August, 2008 21:34
"Out and About with William Blessing."

FAO Sir William Blessing
by: leonardsway
Date: 26 August, 2008 10:07

Hi William

Can't help but ask, did you enjoy your ride yesterday and your "free" visit to Noah's Ark Zoo up at Wraxall???



I replied....

Yes indeed, I was out on a cycle ride this Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, attempting to further shift the few odd ounces by beasting my way rather pointlessly up the nearest hill, mindful of the fact that I could get mown down at any minute by a car howling past me on the Upper Failand Road. The occaisonal burst of sunshine brought fleeting joy, but it was mainly done to kill potential monotony.

Avoiding sign posts to visit Tyntsfield House, this was a training run not a bun fight I muttered to myself, I continued on panting and sweating a bit, to the top of the hill, where I had a choice of descending 5 miles further on into Clevedon when I saw a sign saying "Visit Noah's Ark Zoo Farm....Rhinos, gibbons, meerkats...etc etc camels..."

I cycled down the rough and ready drive and came to a car park but could find no attendant. I looked in the hut but no one was there. I looked for a sign to the entrance. There was no sign except saying "Farm and Commercial vehicles". Supposing this to be the entrance, I followed the path to find it was the way into the rear of the complex.

I joined surruptitiuosly, if guiltily, with the throng of families whose the kids seemed to be having a whale of a time on various commando rides.

I was amused by two beautiful young gibbons, with jet black hair, delicate hands and a very comical manner. They would bring Gold to GB in the London 2012 in the gymnastics, without a doubt. Could they swing about!

I intended to pay on the way out but when I saw it would have cost me ten quid, I thought that perhaps I wouldnt have gone in at that price. They should invest in a clear sign.

I noticed as I toured the zoo, a model of Noah's Ark and some rather mind boggling scientific debate about "the Flood" and "Evolution". I'm a big enough looney as it is without getting involved in religious debates, so I skipped that bit as quick as ducking behind a net curtain when a Jehovah's witness knocks on the front door.

But I did notice the loving atmosphere and contented state of the animals. Get me on that boat anytime Doc!

My cycle ride back to Bristol, with a following wind brought late sunshine that lifted the spirits.

As for my attempt to visit the waterfalls last week with Ray, his complete lack of ability to catch a train on time coupled with any train I catch being delayed, meant we missed the last bus from Abergavenny and so stayed the night there.

The next day we got locked in for two hours in a church when the ladies took their lunch break unnannounced. The local grandee, a real knight and not a make believe one such as I, Sir Trefor Morris, a retired policeman of distinction, came to let us out.

I think he thought he may have at last caught the mystery toe rags who had been pilfering the collection box, but he instead ended up giving us an impromptu lecture, with questions, a tour de force of the History of the United kingdom from Roman Times with special reference to Wales and the Church and Priory of St Thomas, Abergavenny which is unique in having been saved from desolation by Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell. This church has a world renowned medieval wooden carving of epic proportions called the Jesse Tree.

A later visit to the castle left me all "historied out", and yet another visit to a tea shop put me in danger of re ballooning in weight.

Ray was game to watch the friendly at Pontypool down the line that night but given his propensity to get stuck in the middle of nowhere in a thunderstorm I elected to beat a retreat to Bristol.

The next day, Thursday, the third of my three days ostensibly to watch Glos play whoever it was, Ray and I caught the bus to Chepstow, did a walk, visited a museum had a "panninni" and caught the last hour and a half of pleasant sunshine at the County Ground Bristol.

As I sit at my desk writing at 9pm the floodlights from tomorrows Pro 40 day nighter are beaming fully two miles up the hill through my bedroom window. Has man ever invented a torture so cruel as to expect a cricket lover to freeze his nuts off in the dark watching a game just for TV whilst surrounded by drunks that normally come out only downtown after closing time, which is about 5am isnt it.

Ray will be there so I will make an attempt.

I should write this up on my "Rural Rides" thread, which I will try to do. At the moment there's an interesting thread on the Somerset Cricket Unofficial board, The Grockle" around Chapter One of my Rural Rides that I was asked to post on their board. []

By the way, Leonardsway, have we had the pleasure of being formally introduced ?

Re: A Health Warning
Go on my sonner (IP Logged)
28 August, 2008 21:43
Arnold from Dads Army

Re: A Health Warning
Dorset Boy (IP Logged)
29 August, 2008 08:53
The real health warning is:
"Do not read any threads started by W Blessing, unless you have hours spare or are an insomniac in need of sleep."

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
30 August, 2008 22:11
Get out your dictionaries please class and pay attention at the back!

Newport 14 Bristol 56....or more accurately....

Newport 2nd XV 0 Bristol 1st XV 42 after first 40 minutes
Newport 2nd XV 14 Bristol 2nd XV 12 after another 40 minutes.

Saturday 30th 2008 Rodney Parade playing surface.... gert lush... weather fab. crowd boozy but friendly except to the referee....number of chips on plate per hot dog 24.7.....time of ball in play.... no idea. rules? could have been ELVs but didnt notice.

Richard Hill played the first team for the first half and the second team for the second half. That much was made clear when we look at the scores achieved in each team's 40 minutes. In splendid sunshine played in ideal running rugby conditions Bristol First XV mesmerised a Newport RFC team that are the hosts of the regional side, the Gwent Dragons. Let us say therefore that they might be classified as a Newport 2nd XV.

So the score line of the first half was Newport 2nd 0 Bristol 1st 42. David Lemi was a class apart from all on show, but none the less Bristol handled the ball with skill and ran with strength and purpose.

At half time something very strange occurred. It seemed at first as if the 2nd XV would carry on where the Firsts had left off as they quickly scored two good tries, with Luke Eves and Greg Bardon running strongly, Linklater in the loose made good ground, James Philips and Pennycook have matured over the "summer" and look suitably beefy and unshaven. But scrappy play at half back seemed to encourage the Newport team and their bellicose supporters, who had spent the first 60 minutes wailing at the ref, suddenly found they had something positive to rave about, as Newport scored two tries, one a huge knock on that even embarassed the home fans, and as both tries were converted, whereas one of ours was not, Newport 2nd XV beat Bristol United 14-12 in the second 40 minutes.

So we learnt a lot. We learnt what was the First team. And it is....

Luke Arscott at Full back. Lemi and Tom Arscott on the wings, Kevin Maggs and possibly Fatiolofa at centre , Jarvis and Thomas at half back, Blaney, Irish and Hobson front row, Winters and Budgett in the second row and Blowers, El Abd and a fresh looking Ward-Smith in the back row.

Luke Eves pressed for a place. I presume that Alex Clarke may be not quite fit, but then I know nothing about the front row as I've never played there. The seconds were poor. Whether Newport brought on stronger players for the second half I cant say, as one Newport player seems to look like every other. Perhaps a Newport fan could fill us in.

I also learnt a bit about the History of Newport, as I visited an interesting museum situated amongst a derelict 1980's style shopping precinct on the way to ground. I learnt that all museums seem to have identical exhibits with only the place names changed. Is there some conspiracy going on here at the rate payers expense or is it a sensible economy measure?

So,in rugby terms, some pride was restored and we were given a glimmer of hope as the Mighty All Conquering Bath come rolling into town accompanied by their delightful set of sporting supporters, next Sunday week.

Game on! Bring it on!

p.s. The Bristol Evening Post informs me that Noah's Ark Zoo in Failand is planning to introduce five tigers next year. Let's hope it isnt still raining or it all might have floated away by then.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
07 September, 2008 20:54
Lucky win for Bath against the run of the play...ref robbed us blind....elvs are pants....

We Bristol supporters have paid the money for the season ticket so we may as well enjoy the rest of it, and despite the earnest attempts of our team it's pretty obvious that we aren't going to win many games. So let's be positive and admire the superb rugby that Bath played today. Butch James oozed class, as did Classens at scrum half, and the support play and running of the rest of their team was of the highest order.

I look forward to watching Bath against other teams in the Premiership that could give them a closer game. For the supporters of Gloucester, the prospect must be quite unnerving but they at least could hope for a win. We budgeted for an average crowd of 3,500 at Newport for two years. We've done well to hang onto real prospects like Tom Arscott this year, and David Lemi is a star worth paying to watch. But the Guinness Premiership is of a World Class standard, and as a result of SKY money is developing into the rugby equivalent of the English football Barclays Premiership, featuring the best players recruited from all over the World and as a consequence watched all over the world.

That Bristol managed to provide a hint of a challenge to the extremely talented and yes, entertaining Bath team today, warrants some applause. In fact Bristol in places played quite well. A full house, of mainly Bristol fans, although dissappointed at the result, I think acknowleged that Bath were by far the better side, so let's appreciate the game for what it was, a pleasant social affair and an opportunity to reaquaint ourselves, and see some very fine rugby by both sides.

I am now going out to the bottom of the garden with my old service revolver and put an end to it all.

Re: A Health Warning
wineman (IP Logged)
08 September, 2008 15:30
Don't feel so bad WB. Budgies are looking far from complete, Pests are away with the fairies since LBND went upstairs and Worcs have some work to do.

I'm sure you guys will still be here come May (and most Bath fans would hate you to be relegated as it would mean we'd only be able to play you in warm up matches).
Matt Banahan 2010-11 adoptee
Focusing on the backs after 3 years of successful front row adoption

Re: A Health Warning
Bod (IP Logged)
08 September, 2008 18:53
A bigger bullet required Bill!

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
12 September, 2008 09:20

Thanks for lending me that revolver, but I found out I was still firing blanks and so I live to continue to bore you all with my latest thoughts. I know you can't resist them really.

A poster on the Bristol Unofficial site, Barscott-Case,(the Arscott brothers, Tom and Luke are known as Tarscott and Larscott), has pointed out that I had been musing over whether it would be better for Bristol to play in Nat Div One, whilst away from the Memorial Ground as it was being redeveloped, a move now put in limbo by the dreaded "Credit Crunch" (pop whistle and crack).

Mr Barscott-Case asked me to make my mind up as to where I preferred Bristol to play. Another poster drew our attention to how the match statistics showed we were close to matching Bath. And another bewailed our crowd being quiet. I responded thus, and hope that it may be of passing interest to you Barfonians fans basking in the warm glow of yet another street mugging of Bristol RFC in the shadow of Horfield Prison. I hope no one had their cars stolen or towed away.

Dear Barscott-Case,

My reference to shooting myself after the game was a mere literary device to attempt to add some humour to what I thought, as I read my posting prior to pressing "submit" and sending it forth, was a rather dull and sober account of my feelings about our defeat.

But Bristol played their part in making Bath's performance all the more impressive. We didn't roll over, we gave them a game. We made them work for their victory

The only statistic that matters is the final score. Personally speaking, the rest is garbage, visual clutter like those headlines that fly across the bottom of a screen when you are watching an England World Cup rugby match on BBC TV, telling you that Forest Green are leading Ebbs Fleet United 1-0 in the Pound Pushers Plate Cup and that the number of chips per sausage at Newport RFC has gone up from 24.01 to 24.03.......

Astonishing.......not.......really.....zzzzzz.......zzzzzz... . I feel a phone call coming on to Geoff Twentyman's Football Phone in show tonight on Radio Bristol.....the in zzz....the ....West......zzzz.

As for complaints about us not cheering the team on against Bath last Sunday, what do you expect us to do when sporting-wise we were swinging on the end of a rope. Silence, and a polite silence at that, mixed with appreciation for the superb play of our opponents, was the natural response.

No one was surprised by the result. However, sport is all about ups and downs. Did not Bob Dylan say something like, "been down so long, down seems like up to me"? And as the surprise we all felt by England's unexpected win in Croatia on Wednesday, the good feeling it gave us was all the more enjoyable.

Teams can turn it around. Things can change. All Bristol can do is get their heads down and work hard. Results will eventually come. And then we can cheer, can we not? Maybe this Saturday at the Stoop? Unlikely, but nothing is impossible. Have hope.

I won't be able to go to watch Bristol this Saturday as I am working, someone has to do it, but that's why I am off work today, contemplating a train ride down to Taunton to watch Somerset's struggle against Durham in the County Championship.

But first must come my 60 press ups and 30 minute run around the common. I now weigh 14 stone 2 pounds and have had to start wearing a pair of 40 inch waist trousers, down from 16 stone 12 pounds and 44 inches. Perhaps a stone and a half still to go and 36 inch waist. Is anyone else on a keep fit and lose weight drive?

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
17 September, 2008 23:59
A Nice Day for a Swim.
by: WilliamBlessing
Date: 17 September, 2008

It was quite a weekend for sports lovers, and as I was working Saturday, I had the Friday off, which permitted me to take the train down to Taunton to watch the last day of the Somerset versus Durham County Cricket Championship match. At last the sun shone, if weakly, and the game drifted by like a silent river, as we chatted about various rumours circulating the terraces, such as that Craig Spearman, Gloucestershire's star veteran batsman, may not be able to play again as a result of a depressed cheek bone and eye injury.

An early end to the game as a draw, leaving both sides still in the title race, meant I was home in time to watch google eyed, on Eurosport 2, an extraordinarily intense and dramatic French Top 14 championship game between new boy big spenders Toulon and Gay Paree Stade Francais that reached boiling point in an all inclusive massive brawl where more clean punches were landed in 60 seconds than in the whole of Joe Bugner and Audley Harrisons combined careers. Stade held on to win.

So into work the next day and in the lunch hour I took a pleasant walk through the gracefully restored Queens Square, the scene of the Bristol Riot's of 1831, where a information board depicted scenes of burning houses and drunken pillage. It appears that the young Isambard Kingdom Brunel , newly arrived in Bristol, was immediately signed up as a special constable and escorted the Lord Mayor across the roof tops with his collection of valuable paintings and silverware. I expect he voted Tory then.

Onwards through the square across the new footbridge, named after a young 18th century black servant Pero, and into the now dated "Millenium Square", but newly enclosed and buzzing with sports activities promoting youth participation. Somwhere, amongst would be the kick boxers, basketball players, cricket and rugby pitches, was an ever expanding red giant of an exploding star, John Barnes and a Hollywood good looking Phil de Glanville. I was amused by a fabulous diving tackle by a very fat young boy on a tackle bag. Wow! Bris could do with him. He was the product of the grandly named Stockwood Sharks. This was the youth team of the more prosaically named British Gas rugby team or was it the Phones.? I used to support them back in the 70's when they played along the road at the Civil Service ground. Apart from the touch judge I was the only other person, not even a replacement of coach in sight. As a result I was free to give them every bit of advice under the sun.

The music in the Millenium Square provided by GWR was good too. When did I last go to a disco? Saturaday Night fever about 1976 was it? Rave on! Where's my loon pants and mullett wig?

All too soon it was back to work for the afternoon session when things go quiet and I took on a wager with my boss, who is permitted inter net access, on the scores of the three Guinness Premiership games being played as we toiled away. He's of Irish descent and both canny and knowledgable on rugby matters, being a Munster supporter from Leinster, and I bet that Quins would beat Bris by 20 clear points, he said only by 5 points, I guessed that Bath would win by 15 points, he said by 3, and I had Leicester to beat Irish by 10, he said Irish would win.
So I got two out of three closer than he, and picked up a pound coin as my winnings.

It doesn't take the rugby brain of Brian Moore or the analytical mind of John Maynard Keynes to see the reasons for Bristol's current downward spiral, and it's quite unfair to criticise the coaches or the board for the uncertainty over playing arrangements that has put us in such a spin, but that doesn't change the fact that if we do get relegated, and it's looking even now to be us rather than Newcastle, there would't be much point in keeping on 90 per cent of the squad and 100 percent of the three coaches.

So Bristol are playing for their collective skins starting this Friday against big bad Sharky Sale. I can hear the ominous music to the film "Jaws" and those big fins threatenly sculling about beyond the surf.

I think it's a lost cause personally, even this early. Still Penzance, Plymouth and perhaps Exeter here we come. Nice day out on the train. Walk around the ground. Watch new young players coming through, maybe get promoted and then watch them all get the chop again. Life goes on and it's so UNFAIR!

So Saturday evening I watched the Tri Nations decider on video, without knowing the score. Drat. The All Blacks won. Must have been a forward pass somewhere the ref missed. And Barf lost to Glos. Oh dear. Butch James was howling at the moon. Even then, Barf nearly won.

What happened next? Sunday morning. I did a run around the common, watched the Grand Prix, was there a footy match somewhere in there? I tried to watch Munster beating up the Dragons at 6pm but too one sided and too late in the weekend and restlessly watched the new ITV 4 rugger highlights program, but all I could see was endlessly repeated adverts as I skipped channels and some chap from a boy band kidding around with Lewis Moody who was trying to pull down some chaps ruggers shorts during an interview. Laugh..the things they get up to!

And so Bristol's support seems to be like Paxo's underpants, not up to iron ball's requirements. It was with some relief that I could get back to work and ask the first angry caller of the day how I could help them. "You can help me..." shouted an irate elderly Glaswegian gentleman.."by SODDING OFF......" "Thanks for calling" I replied merrily which seemed to upset him to the point of hysteria, so I got a result there.

Bristol Rugby Club have their chance this Friday night, at the Memorial Ground,at home to the Sharks. Dum dum dum dum dumdumdumdum,,,,,,,,arrrrrrgghhhhhhh..........will there be blood in the water? And if so, whose?

By the way, where's Gareth?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19/09/2008 07:43 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
22 September, 2008 09:46
Little Bo Peep, Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Football Club and sunshine. What more could you want?

When the half time entertainment, consisting of a contest in rugby skills, between Little Bo Peep and Brizzly the Bear, is the highlight of the evening, one has to wonder what the 30 players on the pitch were doing. There was no shortage of bump and grind of a most ferocious nature, but the tactics of lumping a long ball down the middle made me think I was watching the Rovers on a good day. When the ball was sliced into touch I became even more convinced, reminding me of a famous right back from the 1960's, Bummy Hillard, who, with an ample backside, in rather tight little satin shorts, as was the fashion of the day, was guaranteed to launch the ball without fail into row Z of the enclosure, to the groans of the Eastville faithful. Doug now runs a sports shop in Kingswood.

We all spend most of our time slumped in front of the TV waiting to be surprised, with diminishing returns, and cliches abound in every genre. One of them is Channel Four programs about "Killer Sharks" or "Canadian Bears", and it's a truisim to say that predators will always go for an easy meal, and that they "rarely attack human beings". The bear will go for a "trash can out the back of the trailer home", and if he can find a jar of honey, so much the better. And the same applies to Sharks.

In rugby terms, Sale were truely the wild animal, only doing the minimum required to bring back the bacon. They didn't need to attack, just sit back and let Bristol cough up an easy meal. Which, despite much huffing and puffing, they did. The one chance Bristol had of winning, when their ferocious battering on the Sharky front door endangered a transformation of the Sharks into Little Red Riding Hood, was squandered when Bristol retreated 40 yards for an hopeless long shot pot at goal which would have only brought a flakey 9-9 scoreline, with plenty of time for Sharks to get their fins flapping and score a try, which they nearly did, purely out of anger, at the end.

Bristol fans, of which I assure you I am one, seemed to be encouraged by the welcome return of a rampant Alfie To'ola, and a dynamic rebirth of Big Desperate Dan Ward-Smith. Neil Brew showed why he is the one back with guaranteed go forward, and the return of Roy Rogers, Roy Winters on his white horse trigger, gives us a glimpse of hope. But the shocking misjudgement of not going for a winning try makes me certain it is time for Joe El-Abd to return to the ranks and play for his place. Without doubt a good man and a decent rugby player, it's not fair to make him a fixture. Blowers, Grieve, Pennycook, James Phillips, even Matt Salter, should step in and give him a break. We need a win if we are to survive. And it didnt look very likely Friday night.

At half time, Little Bo Peep was summoned from the crowd, and from a long way off she looked to me to be rather an attractive busty young lady with long blonde hair, short ra ra shepherdesses frock and low cut blouse, nice silver rubber wellington boots, complete with a golden crook. She was up against Brizzly the Bear, who is impish by nature and very fit, so the task of running the length of the pitch, dodging plastic poles in a slalom, was made easy for him by his adopting the dubious practice of running straight through them. Little Bo Peep, bless her heart, playing fair and very ladylike, bounded curvaciously in and out, and although Brizzly in cheating had won at least a 30 second adavantage, in having to complete the course by dropping a goal, was struggling, as Bears, as we know, do not have good eyesight, and by the time Little Bo Peep had arrived, he had missed not only the posts but the ball as well with his clawed great foot.

However, the lady in the dress found kicking a rugby ball in wellies equally impossible, and I think David Rose ended the contest by sin binning Brizzly for punting a drop goal and Litte Bo Peep for being a girl, or was she? This was par for the course in a series of mysterious decisions. But I think, could detect a long blonde beard somewhere, and I think after all he was a chap out on a stag night. Thank God I'm in bed by 10pm.

On my way home, I contemplated what I would do the next day, and ovecome by a spirit of adventure inspired by Little Bo Beep, I noticed in the Bristol Evening Posts Rugby Column by the excellent Matt Cain, that Dings Crusaders RFC were playing away in National Division Three South to Ealing Rugby Football Club, or Ealing Trail Finders Rugby Club, to give them their correct title. I started to make plans......the weather forcast promised a glorious sunny late Autumnal day.....and Lee Best star full back ex of Richmond, Bristol, Bath and Worcester was playing. I started by googling Ealing Trailfinders RFC. "What was that all about?" I thought.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 22/09/2008 09:47 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
26 September, 2008 08:33
The story so far...

The weekend had begun on a clear cool night under the bright lights of the Memorial Ground where Bristol "entertained" Sale, losing 6-9 in a match that resembled the Battle of the Somme, lots of casualties but precious little breaching of the oppositions defences. It was settled by a display of long range artillery, some more accurate than others. The "management" were "surprised" that all of 8,000 fans decided to come, and as they have decided this year to only take money at 4 box office ticket points and not at the turnstile the end result was a queue out onto Filton Avenue, and a wait of about 30 minutes to get in, in some cases 15 minutes after a kick off that had already been delayed 10 minutes to allow the crowd to enter. Like Basil Faulty of Faulty Towers, running an hotel would be so easy if it weren't for customers wanting to stay there....

The next morning. Saturday 20th Spetember.

The Internet is a wonderful place for making plans, least not "Holidays", and many people devise their own. But sometimes it pays to be advised by a professional, especially with things like foreign travel, where things can go "pear shaped". Don't we know. I think that is where the independent traveller might find Trail Finders useful. Personally, I don't "do" holidays. Too much like going to war. So a day out raving away to some unknown spot on a whim with Dings Crusaders playing, appeals. With the promise of a glorious early Autumn day I went on the Ealing Trail Finders Rugby Club web site and searched for a map as to where it was, always helpful to know if you want to get there. (Ed. Get on with it Blessing...please).

The map showed the ground to be next to a suburban railway station, Castle Bar Park, and consulting my old Ordnance Survey map of the whole of West London, I could see that the way to get there was a train to Paddington and then another train back down the line for ten minutes before the branch line curved off North through Drayton Park station and onto Castle Bar Park. "Cross the footbridge, walk along a road for five minutes, turn left and left and into the ground", said the web site.

Game on! Next, the cost of the fare. By paying 24 pounds a year for an over 60 rail card, you get one third off all journeys after 9.30 am week days and all day weekends. So the normal off peak and weekend fare is reduced from 41.50 quid to 27.40. If you buy a return ticket to Didcot and a return ticket from Didcot to Castle Bar Park at the same time, perfectly legal as long as the train you travel on stops at Didcot, no need to get off, the standard fare is reduced to 32.80, and with a rail card this comes down to 21.75 about. Realistic for the lowly paid call centre worker I am proud to be.

More to come, I must go for a run and then down to Taunton to meet Ray and watch Somerset versus Lancashire in their now difficult attempt to win the County Championship for the first time. I've booked two days off to herald the end of summer. Tomorrow, perhaps we may go to Glos vs Essex second day, depending if I feel like sitting in a cemetery surrounded by tombstones, or are they spectators?. Keith, after a whole summer off watching cricket, every day, has been asked by Computershare to return to work for the winter. He is both very relieved and pleased!

Yesterday began with me setting a new World Record for the Horfield Common Run, of 23 minutes and 50 seconds. Waist size down from 44 to 39 inches, weight from 16 stone 12lbs to 13 stone 13 lbs. Then I watched Glos and then Somerset at Taunton as planned.

But back to last Saturday and my trip to Ealing. What a wonderful day. What joy, in the bright sunshine, speeding across the Berkshire Downs, as fields of wheat were at last being harvested, in one case by a tractor with the tracked wheels of a tank, to stop the still wet soft soil being compacted.

Arriving at Paddington Mainline Station, I noticed the glass roof was a bit grimy, but this was "the Smoke" after all. I walked across the concourse to platform 14 and jumped on the waiting suburban train back out to Ealing and Castle Bar Park. Alighting and crossing the track by footbridge I wandered into a deep green corridor and heard the sound of a choir singing "Jerusalem". "How inspiring", I thought, imagining it to be some sort of Saturday mid day West Indian religious out door gathering. I opted to explore the path alongside the line and soon I could see the modernistic club house of the Trail Finders sports ground. A gate to a sun lit glade to the left invited me in, and seeing it was the sports field of the local primary school, I turned to leave and was invited into the Trailfinders ground on the other side of the lane.

I spoke to the gentleman running the complex, David Robinson, who explained that the founder of the travel company had bought the sportsground of Great Western Railway, GWR as it was then known in 1996, on condition it was opened up to the community and could not be sold for development. And what a splendid job they have done. Cricket, hockey and tennis thrive there along with the rugby. The Sunday morning football team had been asked to leave due to foul language by players and supporters. To the North was Harrow on the Hill and to the east in the far distance, the huge arch over the new Wembley stadium. I must go there at least once.

Lee Best was injured on the first day of the season but he was supporting the team, and unfailingly courteous as ever, an excellent ambassador for any organisation. He's working full time in the city. And enjoying life.

Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club blew Dings away, 46-9, seven tries to nil, which is some doing as Dings were very, very determined opposition. Dings coach Alan Martinovic who as a rubgy coach and teacher at Colston School has provided English clubs with countless players, including Ollie Barkley and Tom Varndell, was quite bemused by his clubs demise.

On an adjoining pitch, my attention turned to Ealing Seconds contest a closer if equally fiercely fought battle with Blackheath Second's, the away team winning 17-19 in the last minute. These second teams play on a Saturday in the Canterbury Shield consisting of second teams from Cornish Pirates , Plymouth, Exeter and the like, so I am led to believe. The standard was remarkably high. Tough, fast, skilful rugby.

What a pity our unadvertised A games are hidden away on a Monday night! What a waste.

As I left the ground I could hear the tannoy playing Jerusalem. I realised that I had entered without paying the 7 pounds entrance fee. This is getting to be a regular occurrence. So here's 7 pounds worth of advertising in return.

So, back on the train at 4.59 pm back to Paddington and onto the 5.30 pm for Bristol Temple Meads, stopping at Didcot of course, and home by 7.15pm.

What a day. Praise the Lord and praise Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 26/09/2008 08:49 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
30 September, 2008 13:18
Loony Tunes!

Mother Nature drew the curtains on Summer this weekend and as the sun set in the west over the rolling countryside, Bugs Bunny, carrot in hand and with toothy grin said "that's all folks!" leaving us to contemplate what winter will hold. Fine crisp Autumn days perhaps. But stumps are drawn and the cricket season reached a dramatic climax worthy of William Shakespeare himself, with first one team looking like winning and stumbling and then another, for finally the victors Durham to emerge in Act IV scene IV. Thrown into the plot was a healthy dose of relegation, whilst at the very bottom of barrel, wooden spoon firmly in hand, Gloucestershire CCC bravely fought out a draw thus maintaining their unique record of not winning a game all season. The Bristol Rugby team look well on their way to emulating their fellow citizens.

Meanwhile, in the auditorium, there are signs of riot amongst the audience as various posters demand the heads of all three Bristol coaches on a plate, along with the Board and anyone else in the firing line including those players not even selected. Surprisingly, Dean Ryan, coach of Gloucester RFC, looks like a candidate for the tumbril as their forum members busily knit away watching their once heroes pass by in the cart on the way to the awaiting, gleaming guillotine. Unfortunately this is not the best of times to seek a return to a career in the City. So nervous times all round.

For me, the sporting week began with two days annual leave, Wednesday and Thursday, watching Glos at Bristol in the morning and then Somerset at Taunton in the afternoon. The new stand at the County Ground named after Marcus Trescothick afforded an excellent view of the great man himself getting a thick edge to first slip in the make or break second innings and this, followed by Justin Langer doing likewise and rearranging the furniture on the deck of The Good Ship Somerset CCC {sponsored by the Titantic} with his flaying bat, brought a few grimaces around the pavilion. Personally I always find it vastly amusing to hear the sound of spintered wood, perhaps a trifle cruel, but I can't help it. It's part of the game. Rage behind closed doors spilling out into public. Sport as a profession must be one of the most anxiety inducing careers imaginable. Apart from customer service in a call centre.

So, it was to Friday night and on the transistor in the kitchen to hear the homely provincial accent of a well informed Mark Hoskins of Radio Bristol reporting from the Newcastle Falcons game, and after a few minutes and a rapid tea,I I decided to go next door and watch Leicester versus Wasps. I slept through it mostly, awaking to become aware that somehow, Wasps had won. Tigers mugged again in their own back yard by those damned Pesties. Unfair! Perhaps those sensitive front row forwards need counselling, so that they can explain why they suddenly felt "unwell". I know the feeling and it's real. It always came on when I had to go to Sunday School. Earlier in the evening whilst still awake, I had dabbled with the Stade Francais versus Bourgoin game on Euro sport but I found I had become somewhat bored with those handsome chaps with long curly blonde hair in pink shirts and flowery shorts. What is coming over me? So switching back to SKY I stuck it out for a while with good old Anglo Saxon Roast beef from the heart of England until mercifully dozing off.

The next day, Saturday, and down the County Ground Bristol for the fourth and final day against Essex, in lovely sunshine, and saying a slightly sad farewell for the winter to my friends around the ground and off to watch Dings against Havant in Lockleaze. Entrance prices had gone up to 8 pounds, if not a member, or 3 pounds if you paid 40 pounds for the year. Gulp! So forking out the money, for once, I watched a complete turn around in fortunes for our local side from their pasting away to Ealing Trailfinders last week. Havant were good but Dings just ran straight through them all day, 55-14.

And so home on the pushbike, to watch the highlights of the Saracens Northampton game at 9 pm on SKY, but it was delayed, first by greyhound racing and then speedway which proved quite an interesting diversion when mixed in with the Hitler Channel, with familiar grainy black and white pictures of the Furhrer gayly walking around Paris in the Springtime 1940. Oh happy days. Finally at 10.30 pm the rugby started, but by half time, although awake, I wished I had been asleep, and anyway I had to be up early to watch Match of the Day, so I gave up and went to bed. Sunday morning, without knowing the scores, I almost got through to the end of the program but gave up on Middlebrough versus Wigan was it. Hull beating Arsenal was very good to watch. Drama! Anger! Jubilation! I had things to do.

A punishing run around the common was then followed by an attempt to explore Stert Point, 10 miles west of Bridgwater, by bike, and my plans to catch the Bristol to Taunton train leaving Temple Meads at 12.44am and arriving at Taunton at 1.15pm to catch the small train back from Taunton to Bridgwater at 1.20 began to founder as the fast train slowed outside the main station and was three minutes late.

Passengers running down the steps and along the underpass towards the other platform where the connecting train stood were assured that under no circumastances would that train wait, and so it didnt, pulling away as we struggled up the stairs and onto the platform. The young "dispatch officer", when I asked him why he hadn't permitted us to catch it, said he "wasn't prepared to delay the train", even though at mid day on a Sunday they are rarer than a copper at a mugging. I gave him a few colourful words of advice whereupon he accused me of being abusive and threatened to "throw me off the station". How very helpful. I rode instead back along the canal about 8 miles through the countryside to Bridgwater, in a mood, trying to thank walkers for permitting me to pass, not always succeeding, I regret.

And so to bed, ready for work the next day, and a brief glimpse of the Grand Prix from Singapore enlivened by someone trying to drive away from the petrol pumps without paying, was it? Sent me soundly to sleep. By now, anyone reading this must be feeling well and truly drowsy themselves, so happy dreams sports lovers, especially the Bath fans currently in clover. And oh yes, I forgot, Bristol are playing Saracens tomorrow night. A change into their new hooped shirts may bring a change in fortunes, maybe, but one thing is certain, someone, somewhere, is going to be very, very angry. And bored? Tell me how you feel. I'm off to the new Cabot Circus shopping centre to have a look at the new strip in the club shop in the Georgian Arcade. I wonder what the team is?

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
05 October, 2008 20:19
De Nile......the longest river in Africa?

As any skool boy nose, and there were plenty of them in the Bass Terrace last Wednesday watching Bristol play Saracens, encouraged by a bargain 5 pound entry price, swimmin in de Nile is all very nice, except for a few dodgy crocs here and there as one floats along past the pyramids, camels and palm trees on either side. But when our Head Coach, Richard Hill can't see what a poor team performance that was, made worse by playing an unfit place kicker, who then proceeds to prove it by missing a series of easy chances, then our coach really is in a Berlin Bunker mentality, and possibly on prozac as well as a remedy for depression. Delusion, or denial, (de Nile, geddit?), is the classic condition of the stressed out leader, and Richard is wallowing in it. And there are plenty of "crocs" around ready to snap.

I have never been so bored by a game as last Wednesday night. It was all so very predictable. I felt sorry for the kids in the crowd, most with apparent attention deficit disorder, who had to entertain themselves somehow or other by horseplay, and as I moved away to a more mature part of the ground, I found myself in the company of middle aged drunks shouting at our replacement kicker to go for the corner in the closing five minutes, when faced with a penalty right in front of the posts, which thankfully was converted, to give us a losing bonus point. Still, they seemed happy with their two pint plastic mugs, and so no doubt was "the management" with the bar takings. So no problem there.

As I walked away from the ground after the final whistle, safely negotiating a couple of shaven headed bouncers dressed in possibly the grubbiest pair of black Primark bri-nylon suits on offer, averting my eyes from their evil glare, as they posed like bodybuilders on sentry guard at the exit from the club house, I realised how charmless and downmarket the evening was. With some relief, as I was at last free from "Horfield Prison", this being the nearest equivalent of our wish to being a fortress, I struck up a conversation with an elderly spectator and asked him what he thought of the game and the team. "Poor", he said "very poor, I used to be a season ticket holder, but I won't be coming back after that."

I was too depressed to say much or even write on the boards, as there was no point in stating to me what was the obvious, but when I read that Mr Hill and several fans thought we played well and things would soon get better, I was prompted to comment. One piece of successful planning was the partial solution to the queues at the inadequate four ticket sales points. Unfortunately this was achieved by a drop in attendance of a thousand or so from the previous game, and even with two minutes to go to kick off there were at least 500 fans trying to get in. A bold executive decision was made from on High by a suavely groomed Mr Corin Palmer who instructed a beleaguered lady steward in uniform with a megaphone to announce that "attention attention! cash only will now be taken at the main collection point". A large movement of bodies didn't seem to reduce the queues, strangley enough. As I handed my season ticket to a surprised and underemployed young lad on the turnstile, who was passing the time looking at his glowing mobile phone, I found that the spaces on the terraces were coming back.

There was a time when I had freedom to roam the vast open spaces on all four sides of the ground, until Rovers turned it into a concentration camp. There was a time, as I walked around the game, encouraging our team, whom I all knew and they knew me, I knew everyone in the crowd too. Not now.

As I looked up last Wednesday night at the grim assembled faces of Bristol's finest I was quite impressed how en masse they looked to be, sober and sensible, but glum.

Will the good times return? Only after changes are either forced on the club, or someone with a new vision comes in and makes them him or herself. I await as ever, with anticipation. Things cannot get worse after the Saracens game. Or can they?

Re: A Health Warning
TrapissedMonk (IP Logged)
05 October, 2008 21:11
nah William I don't geddit. It ain't that bad...............


buy your 2009 Road Map early - you're goin some slightly different places next season. Much as I'd rather you didn't - its a sad decline.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
11 October, 2008 21:42
Recently I decided to post my ramblings on other clubs message boards with mixed results..

The rules of the rugby web site forum states

" This forum is for all rugby related discussions. Please note that families of all ages have access to this board so please show respect for each other!"

I am criticised by correspondents on the Bath Official, Gloucester and Newcastle boards, but not by all, for boring them to death. To them I apologise and ask them to simply not read on, and hopefully avoid having to express their annoyance. In contrast, the Leicester Tigers, Sale and Northampton supporters often chip in with witty good hearted and intelligent thoughts of their own. That's fun. So what's the harm?

To my friends on the Bath forum, are we only permitted to speak here about Bath Rugby Club? This "Letter from Bristol" hopes to give anyone interested, no matter that they may number on the fingers of one hand, an insight to things happening in other places. It's in no way disrespectful to Bath, in fact as a Bristolian I have the greatest admiration for their achievements. Thats why I read the Bath Board and post on it. If you're not interested, just skip it and read something else, or start up a thread on another topic.

We are all interconected, and our interest in rugby generally extends to all clubs, from the smallest to the most mighty, at all levels and extending across the world and other competitions, and of course at international level.

The club versus country battle, the future structure and finance of the game as a whole, I think warrants some interest in Bristol's particular state of affairs. That's what my letter is aimed at illuminating. Hopefully without too much heat. Let's enjoy the season as best we can.

Other readers express their appreciation of my Letter, and of course I am most grateful for their sentiments. So far almost 15,000 visits have been made to my weekly posting on the Official Bristol Message Board, with only the odd expression of complaint, so I assume most have been interested, and a few occaisonally express their appreciation. Why do I do it? Partly because I enjoy it mostly, but not the criticism, and partly to promote rugby in general and Bristol in particular, and also junior club and University rugby at all levels. I do have a gift for writing, which alas some of my critics clearly don't, so I do my best to use it. Others do likewise. For example from the Saints message board, Robbie Richmond writes with insight.

Re: Letter from Bristol.
Posted by: Robby Richmond (IP Logged)
Date: 05 October, 2008 21:45

I wonder if the bookies are offering odds on the first DOR of coach to get the chop?

Mr Hill is struggling at Bristol, but you wonder on how many levels it refers to...

He struggled to recruit anyone in the summer, splitting up the cant pass/wont pass brothers should speak boundaries to other clubs, other players and their agents.

He is struggling with the saga of the ground. Trying to keep the punters coming in is unfortunately always tough in bristol, Die hards of Brizzle, the gas or the robins will tell you that at the best of times a full house is a rarity.

He is also struggling with results now, as brave as his boys are there is only so far you can stretch a squad and get results. Also perhaps halfway through October is not the time to realize that the players might need to hear a fresh voice in the changing room.

I'm not implying that he or Brain have lost the dressing room, but I would look across at Wasps and wonder if they similarly need someone to say something different to the players.

Hill is more than talented enough that were he to lose his job, or fall on his sword, (should things really get that bad at least briz can cling to hopes that the falcons, wuss and wasps are all equally as ordinary as them) he will find work in perhaps a lesser role at many clubs around th country.

Far worse a situation would be Dean Ryan, for whom if he doesn't win something this season (let alone an away game against a half decent team, and Bath doesn't count, glaws didn't win it, bath lost it) will probably cost him his job and he will have garnered a reputation that when the going gets tough the cherry and whites look around for instructions on the Heimlich maneuver...

From the Northampton Saints Board, St Owen writes....

Re: Letter from Bristol.
Posted by: St Owen (IP Logged)
Date: 05 October, 2008 20:10

"Well, I enjoyed Mr Blessing's read nonetheless."

Also Broonie writes..

Re: Letter from Bristol.
Posted by: broonie (IP Logged)
Date: 06 October, 2008 09:21

"William posts his lengthy rambles on most of the other sportnetwork rugby sites and I confess to always reading them,

sometimes they are about rugby, sometimes about life , often a mix of the two, but in my opinion always worth a read.

there is also amusement to be had by reading the natives' reaction to his posts ; sometimes an excellent discussion ensues, other times he gets abused as a nuisance, but it never seems to perturb him.

I don't remember him gracing us with his presence before, so we should feel privileged.

Re: Letter from Bristol
Posted by: Ex-RAFshark (IP Logged)
Date: 06 October, 2008 08:29

William, your ramblings are reassuring me that there are worse things in the sporting world than watching Sale win, no matter how badly we play, and that I could be in Brizzle every weekend!!
I hope to hear more of your essays, as they are very entertaining, but will we soon be able to read a more upbeat entry after a Brizz win?

I'll eagerly await one....and EDF cup wins don't count!!

William Blessing replied... Tuesday 7th October.

Everything in the garden is now rosy as last night Bristol United THUMPED Barf United 50 points to 21 at Clifton RFC.

I didn't attend as I was feeling a little over tired from my mid day lunch hour run up the side of the River Avon, past the Dogs Home. In fact, today I had to walk rather than run as my knee is a bit dodgy.

The run takes me about 12 minutes and I recently purchased for 5 pounds a digital watch with a stop watch function. After pushing all the buttons about a thousand times each I finally worked out how to use it, and after my first accurately timed run on Friday of 12 minutes 18 seconds, my next run was in 11 minutes 55 seconds on Monday. A whole 23 seconds in the space of a weekend. Remarkable performance, if I may say so myself.

Today a pain in my left knee forced me to walk after three minutes. I hope I'm not giving you too much detail, but the run is a fascinating kaleidoscope of differing scenes, starting the run from outside the British and Commonwealth Museum at the foot of Temple Meads station.

This museum is housed in what was once Brunel's main Victorian Railway station, and it's theme is the Abolition of Slavery, which as any skool boy nose a good thing. However us common or garden Bristolians rather quietly object to constantly being told how evil we were, and probably still are by our betters in the Council, so I suspect no one goes there anymore so they are taking their show to London where everyone can wring their hands to their heart's content.

My run dodges past the taxis whizzing out of the station and continues for about 100 yards past bus stops where I try to convey to onlookers that I am not on the run from the police, but a sort of runner. I turn left at the River Avon and dash another two hundred yards into the darkness of a tunnel that takes me under the railway lines that cross the River, a bit like that tunnel in the Monaco Grand Prix, and out the other side one enters the untouched and unspoilt 19th century sort of Bristol where planners have yet to stray and develop. The rural charm of the river in various states of tidal ebb and flow, the remains of medieval wharves, the guillemot sunning itself before plunging and fishing and bobbing up a hundred yards down stream, are common sights.

And the barking dogs from the home and the carers walking the abandoned pets along the cyclepath gives it a crazy sort of Benny Hill Show feeling, the old railway bridges and steepling footbridges, the turning of the trees to autumnal reds and golds in the wind and sun, the various points along the run which act as landmarks and the final rush to the finishing line at the Park and the look to see if a new world record has been set....and it has.......extraodinary!

The next part of the exercise is to get back to my call centre office in time for a small snack of half a pie and soup and onto the phones to field all the dodgy questions the public throw at me for a living like "when is you gonna give me my money you ruddy bunch of feeves".

On the walk back I recover my breath and cool down and can appreciate the beauty of Nature, and I do a a sprint back through the tunnel and it's interesting how after four months of running my pace is returning. The levels of fitness of the modern professional rugby player is astronomically higher than mine, but actually attempting to get fit, even at the age of 60 is something I can heartily recommend, just to see one's body shape change from Humpty Dumpty to an Adonis type slenderness. One side effect is that I have retrieved a certain appreciation of the female form, if you know what I mean. That's got to be good hasn't it. I look forward to hearing of others taking the first timid step, the first 10 minute jog, which when repeated gradually grows and grows....until a knee gives out. Damn!

p.s. Bristol have since lost to Northampton in the EDF cup and Montpellier in the ECC. My computor adaptor conked out last Wednesday and my next door neighbour cleverly bought a replacement for 27.50. It was quite a relief not to log on for a while. The past week of lovely weather has seen me having to walk or ride in my lunch hour alongside the river as my knee continues to stop me running. Jonny Wilkinson, however, fortunately, I am not, and I feel another few days and may be alright to continue running. Once again my apologies if you have found this boring.

Re: A Health Warning
andreww (IP Logged)
11 October, 2008 22:44
Keep posting William. Always entertaining and interesting.

Re: A Health Warning
Bod (IP Logged)
11 October, 2008 23:19
Bill -you'm as barmy as Corporal Jones - don't panic!
Keep it coming.
thumbs down

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
12 October, 2008 18:00
Bod and Andrew,

Thanks mates for those kind words. I can't quite understand why those chaps on the Official Boards get so worked up. The latest posting by a fan suggested that they don't read it and if they do, don't respond to it. That's a brilliant idea, but I suppose it's a bit like scratching an itch on a healing wound and making it bleed again. Strangely irresistible. They've just got to go and say it,"boring, boring,boring." Maybe it is.

What was not boring was Bath's brilliant performance down in Toulouse and I was gutted almost as much as if it had been Bristol, unlikely as that may ever be. Perhaps not the seering hopeless pain of losing that only a true life long supporter can feel about his team, but gutted none the less. As I say I am proud of Bath RFC and their achievement, and defeat although glorious, has added yet another rich chapter in the history of Bath Rugby. That was a game that will live on in the memory and will encourage millions of young boys to take up the game. Sport at it's finest.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 13/10/2008 07:41 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
CoochieCoo (IP Logged)
12 October, 2008 18:16
Thank you for those kind words, Derek, have you closed the books for your fan club! winking smiley Yes indeed I am very proud of this team. They will learn from the experience and come the end of January we will win and deny them the losing bonus.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
14 October, 2008 21:34
Who would have thought it. Bod, Coochie and Blessing all kissing each others.....whatever is the polite word for it! Still very enjoyable never the less.

Could I bring your attention, if you havent already read it, to an excellent report by the gifted rugby correspondent Brendan Gallagher in which he describes a four match tour of the south of France over the last weekend, starting with Saints on the Mediterrean coast at Toulon, Bris at Montpelier, Clermont versus Sale and finally the magnificent game between Toulouse and Bath.

Apart from vividly describing the scenery he points out how the French stadia, super modern and stylish, are all Council run and owned. As for our Bris local "Arena", the nearest Bristol City Council got was a large pile of chippings that has now been levelled. Maybe it's best they didn't try. But hey! The Gas Board (the Bristol Rovers board nicknamed from their proximity to a gas holder in their old ground at Eastville) have announced it's all back on.....errr....if they can find someone with 36 million quid to spend so.... err.....maybe not. As for the Friends of the Rec......


Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
17 October, 2008 23:52
A night to remember.

What a great start we had to the weekend, as Bristol erupted, like a powerful gas central heating boiler ignited by a small bright flame, and thundered and rumbled in wave after wave of dazzling running and handling to the delight of the faithful five thousand at the Memorial Ground tonight. This was Bristol back with a vengeance, and when Toulon had the ball, they were smitten down by flying tackles coming in at every angle and height, and desperate though the star studded French side were to win, slowly they were worn down, so that by the end of the game, their exhausted bodies could offer only token resistance as their conquerors eventually plundered their victims palace.

As Toulon assembled together behind their posts after the game breaking try by Dan Ward-Smith, their bodies heaved and panted with exertion, sweat dripping off their tortured brows. This was no team giving up easily. This was serious competition. Jerry Collins, tall and slender in real life, did all he could to break the ferocious grip that Bristol en masse exerted, but his efforts were like straws blowing in the wind of hurricane. Time after time Toulon's backs seemed to show their pace and skill only to be knocked off the ball by Bristol's defence as the home team turned them over, emerging with the ball and attacking from deep.

On the terraces there was a wild delerium amongst the crowd as eventually the tries came, and the players joined in the celebrations as at long last came that win that could spell "lift off" for Bristol. One should pay tribute to the part Toulon played in such an entertaining game. Perhaps with time they will gell into a successful outfit. They played with spirit and fairness. But on the night Bristol were monsterous. They "had the bear about them" as the lady in the bright flourescent stewards coat said. Brizzly Bear, the mascot was doing handstands and cartwheels, Richard Hill was smiling like someone rescued from in front of a firing squad, and all the Prophets of Doom, myself included, were stroking our beards wondering what had happened to our pessimistic predictions.

Tomorrow's a brand new day, and for a while Bristol can heave a sigh of contentment. Next stop is a win in the Guinness Premiership and a climb off the bottom of the table. Newcastle may have to start looking over their shoulders. Things could be beginning to happen. Relegation might not be the foregone conclusion some pundits have thought. We shall see. What is undeniable is that tonight Bristol shone with vigour and pride. Hard work has paid off with the emergence at last of a fine rugby team playing brilliant rugby. A team that may, over the season, earn the respect of our neighbours and cousins as far away as even Newcastle in the North.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 18/10/2008 09:52 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
21 October, 2008 12:01
As I have mentioned, recently I have posted the fruits of my fevered imagination on other boards, evoking a wide variety of responses, the vast majority on the Bath Official Board, Saracens Newcastle and Glouceter boards being "buzz off you nutcase", only not quite so politely as that in reality. There's only so much abuse a poor fellow can take before he begins to believe his critics and I had wearily taken to read the latest insult which to my astonishment showed some appreciation, thank God!


bathvbrive Post subject: Re: A Letter from BristolPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:23 pm


Very entertaining posts I must say. As a Bath Rugby season ticket holder for many years I would like your opinion on something. Now before we start I would like to point out that I go and watch Bristol as well. When Bath are away at places I can't get to I've watched Bristol at home against Gloucester, Northampton, Newport, Sale, Wasps as well as those league one matches, Plymouth, Rotherham, Orrell etc. A member of my family, as well as many others left Bristol because of the poisonous atmosphere which was and is due to one individual. When they came 3rd in the 2006/2007 season many people were thinking a sleeping giant had awoke. However, it only takes one rotten apple in the barrel to make everyone, players included want to leave. One person has (allegedly) bullied back room staff and thoroughly antagonised almost everyone (apart from those favourites of course). When the person I know left the club Richard Hill apologised saying "I took my eye off the ball with him didn't I". I notice the guilty party no longer writes a long article ( full of self praise) in the Bristol Rugby match progarmme, and the "contribution" has been axed to a few lines. Man I was hugely pleased to see that in the Bristol - Bath programme on the opening day of this season. Again don't get me wrong, I'm a Bath supporter through and through, however, I still keep an eye on the Bristol results and still watch them from time to time. I would though like your opinion on the massive damage done to the cohesion of Bristol by C ( allegedly). It would be a huge shame if one man's actions where responsible for the demise of the second greatest club in the West Country. I think you know of whom I speak. I'm sure Haggy does. Comments?


I'm totally shocked! I had contemplated not to post further on this site simply out of respect to the only too clear and legitimate wishes of the majority of contributors.
But, after all, all I had written was a match report, and although of course it didn't involve Bath, some, but not all rugby supporters, are interested in what's going on at other clubs.

However, of course I appreciate your comments, and to answer your question, it's bit like living in the USSR during Stalin's reign. Criticism gets you only one place, and if not exactly Siberia, it's the next best thing, like down the road to the nearest employment agency. In most cases it leads onto something better, like Bath for example? Who can argue against that? Both Bath and Bristol have been decimated by uncertainty over their future. Both have lost key players because of limited funds. Yet Bath are top of the table, whilst Bristol languish at the bottom without a win in the Guinness Premiership.

The win over Toulon was like water to a man crawling across the desert dying of thirst. Pundits have argued that "Toulon werent interested". I contest that with the evidence of my own eyes. The French team were really gasping for breath. To suggest otherwise is an effront to their professional pride.

A week earlier I was leaping out of my armchair when Bath scored what looked like the winning try at Toulouse and was totally dismayed when Toulouse nicked it with a series of flukey errors by Bath and a swerving touch line penalty kick at the death.

The Haaga Saga is an unsolved "Murder Most Foul Mystery Story". The only thing missing is a detective and a court of law where the truth might come out. For some reason no one is prepared to talk about it. No doubt Martin himself is governed by terms of confidentiality, but we Bristol fans miss him terribly, and the unfortunate Mr Brain, who presumably wasn't involved in his predecessor's departure, now plays the part of the pantomine villain Widow Twanky, to which he is by nature best suited.

As for mr Corin Palmer, like Uncle Joe himself, he has his supporters. I've never plucked up courage to speak to him myself, which is a first, and I don't claim to have any inside knowledge. But what I have gleaned from various sources is that Richard and Martin had a bust up at half time around about the Christmas time in the dressing room when things weren't going well on the field, and I suppose in any heirarchy there has to be a top dog, and I presume that lead to the unfortunate string of events that resulted in Martin going and the consequent spiralling decline of Bristol RFC.

Martin was asked to present a "business plan" at the start of the new season by "the board", and he didn't have one. But why should he have had? He had just coached Bristol to third in the table. What the board should have had was a business plan of their own which would involve recognising Martin's achievements in terms of a longer and improved contract. They didn't. Danny the waterboy and Geoff the kitman were quietly shown the door, along with others in a purge of characters that gave colour to the club.

The rest is History. But of the Future? Relegation? Still on the cards. Bankruptcy? Possible if Bristol overspend which they won't? Going out of existence? Never going to happen. There are thousands of us Brizzlers just waiting to step into the ruins and start building again. We've done it twice and it's great fun!

I hope I havent gone on too much again, and if I have, I once again apologize. Best of luck in the Heineken cup. Bath's return match with Toulouse is the stuff of dreams for rugby fans, wherever they are, including me.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
26 October, 2008 19:18
A Night to Remember which I'm trying to forget.

The Nolstalgia Industry depends on a willing Meeja to stoke it's fires, with cub reporters urgently poking their microphones in front of the recently bereaved, hoping that the victim might blub for the cameras, prompted with questions like "and how did you feel when you saw your lovely son squashed flat by that run away steamroller? Did you....did you....feel like...crying ? did you? did you?"

Cue floods of tears, fake anguish by smug interviewer and back to the studio.......result! And so it was after a series of even fatter ladies singing, Phil Bennett was close to the critical blub point, as Stradey Park brought down the curtain. Excuse me, but if the place is so bloody marvellous why are they selling it? The answer probably lies between the two pieces of a prawn sandwich, so get on with it and stop the hand wringin' will ya me old Taffy mates?

Sitting in the dark in front of the TV in next doors unheated front room, clad in my overcoat, bobble hat and thick blanket, I was as snug as a bug in a rug, but as soon as the game began I was clock watching, wishing for the full time whistle to blow as Bristol's second team fell over when they had the ball, fell over when the Scarlet's had the ball, dropped the ball, kicked the ball away and threw it forward and generally fugged it up as in many ways as their imagination could create.

Coach Richard Hill was, none the less, very impressed with his team's performance. "We always knew it was going to be difficult down here....but I thought ....."

Well, yes Richard it is going to be difficult if your team is so ruddy useless. However, let's not be too negative, at least we can try and forget it if we concentrate hard on blocking out yet another dismal night out in Wales, one to go along with several thousand over the past 100 years or so. The very sad thing is that the Scarlets weren't a lot better than Bristol. Am I fed up with phoney Cup matches with "Group stages". A cup is a a cup. It is a knock out thing. You play someone you've never heard of at somewhere you've never been before. It's full of romance and surprise. It's magic. The underdog winning against the big team away from home.

The EDF cup is none of these things. It has as about much magic as Paul Daniels with flu. It's sole purpose is to string it all out and relieve the fan of their wallet.

Earlier, with rather more anticipation, on Wednesday afternoon, I had travelled over to Cardiff with my bike on the train to explore the secrets of the future of Welsh rugby and perhaps English too, by watching the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, known as UWIC, play Exeter University in a "group stage" of the BUSA (British Universities Students Association) Cup.

A lovely sunny autumnal day greeted me as I trundled past the mighty Millenium stadium, what a theatre of dreams or nightmares that could be, and the River Taff sparkled and gurgled as I coasted by the fabulously rebuilt International cricket arena at Sophia Gardens, the whole pitch a mass of brown soil as the surface is relaid for the Ashes next year. Lets hope the grass has grown by then.

The cyclepath alongside the Taff is the start of the famous Taff Trail which goes 60 odd miles up the valley into the Brecon Beacons, but I followed it as far as the first big weir where a long thin footbridge took me over the cascading river to the other side and negotiating a complicated series of side roads I made my way east towards the sumptious Roath Park, wandering around an excellent Botanical Hot House complete with huge carp, a sleeping fourteen year old duck that had just lost her life long partner and a mass of tortoises bobbing about under an umbrella of exotic jungle vegetation. Only 60p. That's nice. Further up the gardens, I circumnavigated a huge boating lake inhabited by 160 swans, so I was told, and eventually climbing through some very leafy suburbs, eventually came to the inauspicious entrance to the the Indoor Sports Centre of Wales at UWIC.

The architecture is 1960's low rise redbrick council estate without the modern embellishments of burnt out cars and heroin needles in the grass verges. The students were friendly and courteous, and everywhere I turned some sort of team in some sort of sport were warming up. I mistook the Rugby league squad for the Union, and the tennis and net ball were being practised by some very pretty young ladies.

Hastening on in case I wasnt arrested, I found the rugby chappies doing their frightening pre match drills.

The game itself began as in a ponderous version of their seniors, big packs grappling like boa contrictor and elephant, elementary handling errors, endless aerial ping pongs, and a ref trying to blow the pea out of his whistle.

It was no great surprise that UWIC, true to form, in a rare series of rolling mauls, took an early lead of 22 points to nil. But Exeter hung in and came back and showed some fire and skill to eventually lose 29-7. Last week UWIC, the mecca of sports studies in Wales, went away to beat Hartpury College 24-21, last seasons conquerors of Loughborough Students in the final at Twickenham.

A splendid day out in the splendid capital city of Cardiff. Could we learn some things from them. They have such a sense of community and civic pride. They plan. They are a nation and proud to be so. Perhaps that's why the closure of Stradey Park meant so much more to them than us dry eyed English. They've got feeling. They've got soul. We've got problems.

For further information of student rugby in your area see the Busa web site.


Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
12 November, 2008 08:23
Bristol University 10 Hartpury College 31
by: WilliamBlessing
Date: 11 November, 2008

A splendid game of rugby at Coombe Dingle entertained an audience that varied from the gilded youth of the University crowd to the approaching elderley, but far from infirm, of Bristol's rugby cognescenti, and as the action took place fast and furious before us, adorned with ravishing moments of pure invention and sleight of hand by the gifted students, the conversation was dominated by where Bristol RFC had gone wrong and who was responsible.

There were no surprises, except with the strength of feeling and the certainty that Bristol were doomed. If shooting in the foot was an Olympic sport, Bristol would have more mediallions than Burt Reynolds.

So we live for this Sunday to see whether Richard Hill and his merry men can prove us all wrong. More in hope than expectation. The general view was that Richard Hill's illustrious career that took Bristol to the very brink of success was likely to be taking him elsewhere pretty soon, unless, that is, he pulls another rabbit from the hat. That's showbiz for you.

As so, on the field Hartpury worked their magic whilst Bristol attempted to huff and puff their house down. Just when they seemed about to batter down the door, Hartpury found a way around them. Credit to both teams for a great afternoon, and for an insight into the inner workings of Bristol Rugby Club from people who know so much more about the game myself, if only I could share with you their confidences that discretion forbids me to exclaim.

And so to Saturday afternoon 12.45, where I sat by the SKY TV entranced by a splendid football match between Arsenal and Manchester United, so much so that by the time the final whistle blew it was 7 minutes into the the England versus Pacific Islanders that had just begun.

The contrast was so stark, the fare so stodgy and dull in comparison to the football, I fell soundly asleep and despite my best efforts to rouse myself by switching over to Auntie and tasting more collapsed scrums from South Africa against Wales, the whole thing left me nodding like a donkey in the back of John Precott's big Jag on the way to the fish and chip shop.

Still, tomorrow it's a day off again and a visit to Georgian Bath and up the hill to see the University play our good friends the Irish hooligan teacher trainers from St Mary's Twickenham. Sparks may fly.

Bristol University are away to Exeter University.

Roll on Sunday. Will the Saints come marching in? No doubt about that, but how will they leave? We can but pray that He brings us Brizzlers salvation and a famous victory. Sport. Don't you love it?

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
19 November, 2008 10:27
Bristol University vs Exeter University 2 pm Coombe Dingle Wed 19th November

The Autumn series of University games in the group stages of the BUCS cup continues today, and Exeter will be anxious to gain revenge for a surprising defeat last Wednesday at home, losing 24-21 to Bristol. No reports of this game are available at the moment so one can only guess Bristol were "lucky" to win. But having seen a rather ponderous Exeter side away to UWIC earlier in the season and in contrast having been impressed with the sheer animal virility of Bristol in a gallant defeat at the hands of Hartpurty a fortnight ago, perhaps Bristol may continue to surprise in what promises to be a fast and furious game. I shall be there to report, I hope.

Last Wednesday saw me catching the train to Bath and in an attempt to lose weight, I began the climb, on foot, up Bathwick Hill to the University campus on Claverton Down. In bright sunshine I soon began to shed clothing, if not pounds, and by the time I had sweated one third of the way up the never ending hill, I was looking longingly for a bus stop ahead and over my shoulder for an approaching big, long orange bendy bus to take me to the top for free, courteousy of my over 60 bus pass.

The bus, packed with the immaculately behaved children of the wealthy of Hong Kong and surrounds, cruised upwards with smooth decorum thanks to the Polish driver past the incredibly elegant Georgian houses, up the hill that even on a bus seemed to go on forever, before levelling out, and, in a series of disorientating roundabouts, swept into the 1960's style entrance, in stark contrast to the historic town below.

Arriving at 1pm, well in time for the kick off, I made no mistake, like I had done the week before at Hartpury, by going straight into the massive sports hall where a solitary student sat behind a computor, in a space age bucket seat and with security as tight as Terminal Five at Heathrow, I asked him "Are the University playing at home today and if so what time is the kick off please?"

"No problem....errr.... I'll just check with the computor....errrr.....(5 minutes later)....errrr....yes...yes... they are playing err.... St. Marys Teacher training College....kick off.... err.....oh....err....2pm.

Thinking that a piece of paper might have been more effective on a notice board, I asked "are they playing at the usual place just behind the Sports Centre?"

"Err... just let me see....(five minutes later...)...err.. no.... they are playing at....err.... the Sulis Leisure centre....its about a 25 minute walk down the road, out the entrance, turn left, down to the mini roundabout, turn right and straight on and you can go through a gap in the hedge......and it's on your problem "

"Thanks" I said muttering that it was already 1.15pm by now and I was determined to experience the oriental delights of the duck infested refectory in the Neo Brutalist Concrete Canyon of the University itself, surrounded by lakes, shrubs and curiously, an archery competition which, although roped off from passers by, seemed to give me the chance of being fatally wounded, as I tried an ill judged short cut to save time, by beating a path through the abundant shrubbery.

The meal itself, a Bombay Duck Curry, I wonder where they got the ingredients from, perhaps that's how the archery club earned a living, despite being very pricey at 4.45 pounds was insufficent to fill an occidental and I surruptiously augmented it with various scraps left behind by the overfed, overpaid and overhere students, before once again braving the outrageous arrows of misfortune and desire of the archery range to boldly set out for the great unknown of "the Sulis Leisure Centre".

I walked for about ten minutes past vast open spaces of flat wide rugby pitches which were until recently the training ground of the England Rugby Team, then coached by Granny Ashton or Coco the Clown as he is derisively known by Bathonians. On his sacking and replacement by Big Bad Jonno, Team Ingerlunt have moved to Bagshot, a pity the town of Leicester can't be towed down south for the sake of convenience.

These pitches didnt have the Essential Bar Facilities appropriate for the Rugby Club of Bath Uuniversity.... let's get the priorities right, and a double booking with the Ladies hockey club of the ice baths forcing the rugger lads to have to wait til 9 pm for their frosty plunges, precipitated a sulky decamp to aforesaid Sulis leisure centre. Marvellous. One would have thought that a budget bigger than California would permit the rugby to play on the campus, but no, so it was into a bright sun to the south that I finally reached the main road and turning left, set out for the ground and by now it was 2pm already.

For about 20 minutes I walked down a hill overlooking impossibly romantic views of an English countryside that hadn't changed since the 17th century, in the backgound the yapping and barking of a dog kennels and not a person in sight and no mini roundabout. "He did say turn left, didn't he" I thought and then I saw about 200 yards behind me a couple of Hooray Henry University dolly birds, arm in arm, walking my way. A ray of hope and, as I waited for them to pass, they were able to say to my plea as to where the ground was...."no problem...follow us...."

to be continued as I must go for a run.....

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19/11/2008 18:28 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Health Warning
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
03 December, 2008 09:25
Bath University 22 St Marys College London 14 Wed 12.11.2008

To leave my account of a splendid day out at the fine University of Bath and the thrillingly brilliant performance by both teams would be disrespectful on my part, so bare with me dear reader as I hurtle through the facts.

As I arrived at the ground, I could see the main game in play, with St. Mary's Strawberry Hill Mob in their infamous Blackburn Rover royal blue and white shirts, with one sock blue the other white and Roman Numerals for numbers on the back. At one stage the ref was heard asking the touch judge on their walky talky call centre type phones whether the prop, "number one hundred and eleven" was "not binding". This caused amusement amongst the serried ranks of RFU assessors with their dreaded note pads. Knowledge of Roman numbering, if not the alphabet, being an unusual requirement for a ref.

The predominant accent of the visitors was "Sarf Landan", so apologies to the absent Irish Hooligans, and in fact, the St Mary's team seemed bordering on the educated. Good at rugby too, but, to my surprise, a fervently motivated and astonishly skilful Bath side took the lead and held onto it, despite a whirlwind attempt by St Mary's to win the game.

In an idyllic setting, framed on one side to the north, by an unending row of towering trees in Autumnal colours illuminated by a golden sun of late afternoon, and to the south giving views far into the distance across unending dappled greens of woodland and hills, these were truly elysian fields.

The game itself was observed by a collection of devoted fathers and adoring girlfriends overseen by a low key Jonathan Palmer, ex Bath rugby centre great. He must have been quietly pleased with his charges, and the prospect of Bath playing Bristol at Coombe Dingle a week later wetted my appetite.

As the final whistle blew 22-14 with a win to a jubilant Bath team, I took my chances back through the hole in the wall and seeing a little mini bus hurtling towards me at a bus stop with a young school girl with her hand out, I jumped on board as the very wound up, old bus driver shouted some sort of abuse at the young girl profferring her fare.

Anxious not to ask a silly question as to the destination of said bus, I got on and hoped it would be going back to Bath, which thankfully it did, stopping off at breakneck speed at the campus, via a sleeping policeman bump that threw us all out of our seats by about a foot, risking permanent damage I feared, to my back and causing me to exclaim "what the fuggin hell....." and soon after descending into ancient Bath town I was speeding back at 125 miles per hour on the Paddington Express out of London to home sweet home, the mighty metropolis of Bristol.

So a week later, and Coombe Dingle Bristol versus Bath.....

Bristol University 28 Bath Iniversity 24, Wed. 2pm, 26.11.2008

Bath University visited Bristol University at Coombe Dingle, both sides coming off the back of fine wins, and the game was no dissappointment.

Opening exchanges were fast and furious in which Bristol were able to equal Bath blow for blow. The prospect of a close game seemed to be ruined when a thunderous drive by a Bath player through the Bristol forwards was halted by an equally impressive tackle by a Bristol wing forward who, using the momentum of the on runner, drove and speared the ball carrier sideways to the ground. A bit of soccer style hand bagged indignancy by the Bath team perhaps encouraged the enthusiastic ref to get out a red card, and Bristol, down to 14 men, seemed to be up against it.

Far from it, Bristol redoubled their effort and, combined with a marvellous ability to recycle the ball in the tackle, came back in the second half to take the lead against all the odds. Just when they seemed on the brink of sealing a victory, Bath broke away from their own line to score at the other end.

But Bristol would not be denied, and to the backgound music of the Bath coach "effing and blinding" his hapless charges behind the posts, Bristol converted a try and finally, their very gifted fly half, James Bird, a fresher on the Cardiff Blues books I'm lead to believe, converted two penalty kicks from the half way line.

The senior rugby club in Bristol would do better to realise that no side can turn down points from kickable penalties, and when you have a player like Bird in the team who can punish the opposition from anywhere in the defending sides half, you have a complete winning team.

Ben Sturnham, back on the touchline, and everyone connected to the University are to be congratulated for forming such a fine side, who this Wednesday take on the might of UWIC at Coombe Dingle, a game which I would very much like to watch, but a pre arranged trip to explore Ludlow Castle with Ray, intervenes.

However, amongst all of the gloom of both England and Bristol RFC, the University continue to illuminate one's Wednesday afternoons. Next term the contest goes into the knock out stage against the Northern Premier Division sides, and it will be interesting to see how far this highly talented and motivated team can progress.

UWIC v Hartpury 2pm Wed 03 12 2008 Cardiff.

So much water has flowed relentlessly under the rugby bridge that it's difficult to accurately recall what has happened, and what may happen, but I shall try.

This afternoon a train ride to Cardiff and a cycle up the hill to the University of Wales Institute Cardiff beckons as I hope to watch the stand out game between the top two sides in the Southern Division.

Meanwhile Bath University entertain Exeter University, and attractive as this game may be, I'm not certain if it might be a floodlit game at the rec, as in the past, or a "sunshine" illuminated game at the "Sulis Leisure Centre." Our friend on the computer at the sports centre can be relied to inform you, if you can get through on the phone.

To catch up with last week's games, which I missed as I was on a two day trip to Ludlow Castle, the BUCS website informs me that Bristol held the all conquering UWIC side to a creditable losing margin of 21 to 34, whilst a no doubt demoralised Bath University imploded spectacularly away, to a rampant Hartpury College.

The trip to Ludlow last week, in the good company of an increasingly forgetful and aged Ray, was as eccentric as ever, capped by the castle being closed to the public whilst Father Christmas and his reindeers, aided by those mischievious ELVS, put up a marquee for the oncoming Christmas Festivities, but the momentary disappointment was quelled by a visit to the Castle Lodge, a large Medieval town house adjacent to the Castle entrance.

To step inside was to walk back in time fully 500 years as one climbed the stairs and went from room to room, astonishingly restored to an authentic condition by the elderly and infirm couple whose last 18 years have been devoted to saving it from being converted into an office block. Exhausted by their efforts and deep in debt they want to sell up. It's yours for a million, or to visit, 3 pounds for as long as you want.

Our tour of the ancient town of Ludlow continued with a climb of about 300 feet up the inside of a narrow tight spiralling, high stepped, local church tower, which Ray, to my surprise, actually completed about 15 minutes after I had myself staggered out onto the ramparts and surveyed the pleasing vista of the Shropshire countryside below and hills beyond.

Looking down on the antiquity of the town's rooves and half timbered houses was a giddy experience. The church of St Andrews was shining bright itself. An interesting place, Ludlow, to visit, quite unlike the West Country.

On the rugby front, Bristol's tragic defeat in the last five minutes to London Irish was difficult to take. But at least it gives us some hope. Next time when we are in the lead, let's kick the ball into the corner shall we? Progress is being made, and we need to continue to learn from our mistakes. To the future!

Re: A Health Warning
Bod (IP Logged)
03 December, 2008 17:27
Keep it coming Bill!
thumbs down

Re: A Health Warning
CoochieCoo (IP Logged)
03 December, 2008 17:34
..or preferably send it in a PM to Bod as he appears to be the only one with time and the inclination to read these sagas! [:wor kid:]

Re: A Health Warning
Bod (IP Logged)
04 December, 2008 00:00
You'll be at Bills' stage in a few years CC when you're dribbling and blowing bubbles in your pint - be gentle with the old and feeble might be there sometime soon!

Re: A Health Warning
04 December, 2008 07:29
I might be setting myself up here, but I quite enjoy them too!!!

Bonjour Jacques, my adopteee 2010/ 2011
Pic to follow

Re: A Health Warning
CoochieCoo (IP Logged)
04 December, 2008 08:04
Pah! Life is too short to read this thread! winking smiley

Re: A Health Warning
annie blackthorn (IP Logged)
04 December, 2008 08:36
Howabout commenting on the parlous state of the labour government and what are they going to do about The Speaker and his auburn tinted side kick?

Re: A Health Warning
Fudpucker (IP Logged)
04 December, 2008 08:48
Sad, but I also enjoy the ramblings.

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