August 10 2015
My Tigers memories. I first started going to Tigers matches with an old school friend and his mum & dad some 33 years ago.
Then going to the Boxing Day Barbarians matches with my dad, previously a round ball supporter! Watching the greats of World rugby in a fantastic atmosphere ( mainly of alcohol fumes!). I remember David Campese standing in the slush signing autographs in his bare feet for a long time after the match as somebody asked him for his socks as a souvenir.
I first became a Season ticket holder in 1987 during my sandwich year at Polytechnic. My dad actually bought his first as I was away from home as a student.
For many years I travelled from Portsmouth, Southampton and Woking to support the Tigers at home and away.
My Favourite memories of away games are
- Trips to the Wreck getting soaked, freezing cold or sunburnt! Most of the games were played in a mud bath as the Avon had flooded the pitch and both sides were playing in brown shirts.
- Bristol games at the Memorial ground, nice Cornish Pasties, Bristol wearing shirts with the letters the opposite way to ours, the red card for Julian White for head butting Wig (the start of our inability to beat 14 men?). The time we sent the second XV and they played out of their skins. Winning the league there in 2000, with the Bath players turning up in a coach and getting banter from us as we won.
- Trips to Edge Hall Road to watch us play Orrell - prop Sammy Southern's expletive pre-match motivational speech, the trip to the rugby league ground at Central Park, Austin playing for Orrell and a great pub with a fantastic all-day breakfast.
- Visits to Franklin gardens for the local derbies down to 13 men and the try from the lineout. Cockers to Cozza. The stop off at the Olde Sun at Upper Heyford on the way home.
- Kingsholm - standing in a stand on our 1st visit that we later found out was the 'Shed'.
- Sale games at Haywood road and then a pub crawl round Manchester after the game.
- Southgate - dog poo being cleared from the pitch before kick-off and the match finishing in fading daylight lit up by passing traffic.
- Meeting my dad in London for games against Wasps, Quins, Irish, Saracens, Richmond & London Scottish and the Fullers and Youngs beer after, catching the last train back to Portsmouth, falling asleep on the train missing my Fratton stop and waking up at Portsmouth Harbour and then having to walk home!
- Pilkington Cup matches at places like rosslyn park (standing on wooden planks because the whole ground was a mud bath), the concrete monstroust MadStad (Richmond semi final)
Listening to the radio on a Monday lunchtime for the draw for the next round. Then the finals at Twickenham - the Lander incident, Johno's last match and defeat against Wasps, victory over Quins (me and my Dad celebrating big time and somehow getting back to my Studio Flat in Woking). The 9-3 'classic' victory over Sale.
- Other Cabbage Patch memories are the Edf final win, standing in the old North stand when Rory scored twice at that end for England against Australia in 1988. Going straight to a World Cup pool match after a 12 hour night shift, It hit me about 7pm in a pub in Wimbledon! Some unpleasant memories walking through the sewerage works from The Royal Oak at Isleworth!
Being young and foolish in thinking Women were more important than Rugby - in missing the Waterloo game in 1998 as I was taking a young female to a Tpau concert (also liked Carol Decker!) that evening. Drove all the way back to Portsmouth to find out the concert was cancelled, Tigers had won the league and the date was a write-off too!
Home game memories are so many but some of the highlights are League win presentations at home with the players coming up to the Directors box with Simply the Best and We are the champions crackling out of the PA system. Barry Evans speeding down the wing. Deano issuing his own justice, if the opposition committed an act of foul play, the norm was that a few minutes later that player would be on the floor with Deano waddling away from him, scoring 100 points against Liverpool St Helens, Castro with that Try against Irish. Logo's try against Exeter with the Samoan sidestep through Nowell. The win against South Africa. Sitting where I do in the Crumbie stand the entertainment in the directors box from the coaches is good to watch!
Favourite European memories are at the Millennium with the Cup win against Munster and Jordan Cranes penalty kick to win the shoot out against Cardiff, Stade at home in the snow, Dupuy's try at the Walkers & Stimmo's kick at the Forest ground. Unhappy ones are the final defeat against Brive in Cardiff and not getting to the Paris final due to a Tigers ticketing mess-up, pool game at Murrayfield with my other half cheering for Edinburgh!
Nowadays the home games are easier to get to being based in Leicester but family issues and working shifts mean the away games with my Dad are rare but we have been fortunate in that the last two we have managed in recent years have been great Tigers wins. 36 - 8 over Saints in 2013 singing 'when the Saints go marching home' as the home fans left early and this year against Wasps at the Ricoh.
Some great Tigers members nights (pre professional behaviour and social media) with ABC club, Backy, Madeye, Oz and awards dinners.
Pleasure to watch some great players over the years including the likes of Dusty Hare, Les Cusworth, Deano, the ABC club, Johno, the Underwoods, Deacs, Backy, Josh Kronfeld, Waisale Serevi, Oz, Cozza, Stimmo (and thank you for buying my mum a drink at the Haymarket theatre when off duty), Joel, Pat Howard, Geordan, the Tullagi dynasty and Brad Thorn.
Writing this has made me think of the things I would change in the modern game. These are:- constant changing of kick off times by TV (causes me havoc with my work schedule), being able to win something at home again (proper league, don't play during the internationals and get rid off payoffs), a true knockout cup competition to be reintroduced, reverting to the original club badge and letters.