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A Grand Day Out


By Paul_D
August 22 2018

Despite warnings about potential traffic problems in the area due to the Sunbury Regatta we arrived at Hazelwood by car with no problems whatsoever. We parked up and headed to the main entrance to find a long bench set up outside with rows of boxes laid out containing everyone’s membership cards. We were greeted with a warm handshake by Theo Brophy-Clews who delved in and found our envelopes containing our membership cards and car park pass for the coming season. There was also a nice little pin badge and the customary, already out of date, fixture list card. The bench was being manned by a rotation of players and coaches. Max Northcote Green and Les Kiss were also in attendance at the time we arrived. There was also the opportunity for kids, young and old, to grab their entry for the treasure hunt. Not having any youngsters with us we didn’t get involved, although I did hear some little ones enjoying themselves running around looking for clues. 

Having visited the bar and armed with the obligatory pint of the black stuff, we headed to the lawn around the back of the club house to find some familiar faces, friends and acquaintances. For me this is one of the highlights of these events, the opportunity to catch up with fellow supporters who you haven’t seen since the end of the last season. A nice opportunity to catch up with the London Irish family. The sun was shining, it was pleasantly warm, Digger was doing his rounds of photo opportunities and the little ones were playing on the bouncy castle. With the disappointment of our relegation accepted and parked, everyone seemed in optimistic mood for the coming season. We grabbed an empty table and were shortly joined by a posse of players, including a few of the new guys. It was great having a chat with them on a one to one basis. They were forthcoming, open and honest. The overriding feeling seemed to be the positive impact the two K’s have had on the squad since their arrival. They had nothing but good words to say about them and their coaching style. 

At 12.30 we moved inside for the Q&A session with our new signings, hosted by the new presenter, Simon Donohue. I did ask later on, to be assured that Caimh is still our stadium announcer; they’ve just bought this chap in to lighten his load a little. Unfortunately, the PA system was not functioning as it should and the only people who could hear the interviews were those standing at the front, and even that was a struggle. Consequently, everyone else gave up trying to hear what was being said and descended into their own conversation, making it even harder for anyone to hear the interviews. There was also no opportunity for questions from the floor, which was a shame. It was all a bit of a shambles really. In my opinion, the highlight of the Q&A session was the presentation from the academy manager, Patrick O’Grady. As well as giving us the run down on the academy structure and recruitment process, he played a few video highlights of matches from our age grades. There’s certainly some serious talent coming through the ranks! We also heard from Les Kiss who gave us an insight into his coaching philosophy and expectations for the coming season. He came across as grounded and realistic, accepting that there’s a tough season ahead and promotion is by no means guaranteed. If we are lucky enough to be promoted back to the premiership there has to be a plan in place to hold our own in that league and kick on, not just survive and cling on by our finger nails. As such, the intention is to play the coming season as a premiership club so that it’s not such a shock to the system assuming we gain immediate promotion. 

Q&A’s over we headed back outside to be met by the smell of cooking burgers and sausages. I don’t wish to be too negative about the food on offer but suffice to say, going by what we heard from our friend who partook in the BBQ, I think our decision to take our own sandwiches was an inspired decision! 

We spent another hour or so chatting to players, coaches and staff, all of whom were extremely chatty. There does seem to be a genuinely positive vibe running through the club, the likes of which I’ve not felt before. Everyone is really up for the season ahead. We then headed across to the pitch to watch the Wild Geese take on South Leicester in a pre-season friendly. It’s always great watching the Geese at Hazelwood as you are right in the thick of the action at pitch side. Unfortunately we were only able to stay for the first half in which Leicester seemed to have the upper hand by a small margin. We never did find out the final score. 

The day wasn’t without a few niggles. The failure of the PA system was a real disappointment for 90% of the attendees and the BBQ left a lot to be desired. However, driving back up the M3 to Reading we felt we’d had a thoroughly good day out and arrived home with a really positive feeling about the season to come. Bring it on!

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A Grand Day Out
The Craic www.londonirish.org (IP Logged)
22/08/2018 17:39
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Re: A Grand Day Out
Exile_Dave (IP Logged)
22/08/2018 19:03
Great assignment of the day Paul. I agree with all points you mentioned. A good day was had despite the negatives.

I'd rather be a Paddy then a Quin!!

C'mon the boys in Green!!

 
Re: A Grand Day Out
The Sligo Rover (IP Logged)
23/08/2018 07:19
Surely from Sunbury to Reading you go down the M3 not up?

 
Re: A Grand Day Out
Paul_D (IP Logged)
23/08/2018 08:09
Cheers Dave thumbs down

Sligo, a little way down the M3 then up the M4. How's that? smiling smiley

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