Walsall FC played Hartlepool away yesterday. A lot of my friends made a weekend in Newcastle Upon Tyne out of it, which normally I’d be all over but I didn’t get round to organising it so yesterday while they were all waking up hungover on Tyneside, I did the same, but not hungover and in my own bedroom. But after an extremely busy 3 weeks where I’d barely had time to fart I’d got this Saturday to do as I pleased.
The main extremely loose plan for the day was to try a new eaterie in the town centre that does pork shoulder and chips for under a fiver, then maybe a couple of pints. Then I saw a tweet from Walsall Rugby Club @WalsallRFC advising of a home friendly versus Spartans at 3pm. I thought ‘something different. I’ll have me a bit of that’. So off I went.
Now I’ve only been to watch Walsall Rugby Club twice previously and the last time must have been about 15 years ago but I have visited the site 4 times recently. In November 2019 me and my mates went to a quiz that ended somewhat controversially. We came second by a point but in the last round had an answer marked wrong. The question was which country beginning with the letter C comes first alphabetically. We put Cambodia but were marked wrong as apparently it’s called Kingdom Of Cambodia. The winning team put the “correct” answer of Cameroon. We should have gone outside and thrown shoes over the clubhouse like that scene in The Office, although would we have got more points for throwing them over the horizontal bar of the H goalposts?
After that I went twice when they appealed for volunteers to paint the perimeter fence and clubhouse even though I have the painting skills of a 5 year old at their first art class. In fact a bit of the grey paint that I spilt on the club house step is still visible. If you know it’s there and actively seek it out like I did yesterday.
My most recent visit was in May when friend of the blog Ralph Graw treated me to food and drink at the very popular Steaks By Heather night which happens on a Thursday evening (and on Wednesdays at Katz), this was a very successful and enjoyable visit.
So I ventured into the club and was warmly welcomed by Kenny formerly of The Wheatsheaf who now runs the club. Then it was beer time. I stopped to admire the framed rugby shirts all around the club and a gentleman struck up conversion. “You look anxious. Are you after someone?”. “No, I’m just after beer”. “Well stand up the bar and you’ll get served”. So I tried that and it worked, and I was served a very pleasant HPA by a nice barmaid although she did try to give my change to someone else but the beer was so good this was quickly forgiven.
I went to get food and opted for a cheeseburger, I then panicked and ordered chips as well and it was cooked fresh and delivered to my table a few minutes later. And it was really good.
Then it was kick off time but I still had beer left so I missed it and as I did on the club house sound system came the Milli Vanilli classic “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”. ‘Yep’ I thought, ‘your gonna miss that girl. I’ve missed kick off and will also do the same with trys, drop goals and conversions very soon’.
I soon discovered that you can take beer outside here so I got another HPA and ventured outside just in time to see Spartans take the lead with a penalty. Now I don’t really understand the rules of rugby and John Inverdale I most certainly am not but I’ll try and give you a brief match report. The first action came when the ball landed right by me and bounced away behind. Thankfully someone else ran for it and as he booted the ball back into play, one of his flip flops flew off and went further than I probably would have kicked the ball. Perhaps he was also trying to win a quiz.
My commentary begins just after I’d gone for my half time pint. I thought rugby matches were 40 minutes a half so I went for my beer at 3.35 but by 3.45 nobody had come in so I went to see why and I timed it nicely. From my angle all I could see was lots of men pushing and shoving down the other end but a cheer went up and Walsall had a try. 5 nice points. The conversion was missed and at 4.53 the ref finally blew for half time with Walsall 5-3 up. I went back in the club house to escape the incessant drizzle. I hadn’t thought to put a coat on, snd the covered stand was somewhat busy.
When I reappeared for the second half Spartans had gone 11-5 up but towards the end a Walsall player hoofed the ball forward, ran onto his own kick and darted over the goal line right on the opposite side of the pitch, but then got to do the cool thing of running along and plonking the ball down between the goal posts. I always like that. The conversion was completed and Walsall were 12-11 up and the ref blew for full time straight away.
Whilst waiting for the players to leave the pitch, Martin who had been in charge of the volounteer days spotted me and came over. I was pleased he remembered me as it’s been over a year. He was really pleased to see me at a game and offered me a beer which I duly accepted which he then went and fetched. A really nice touch.
I stayed for a pint of Boltmaker which was excellent then it was taxi to Katz time. The man on the phone said 10 minutes but I went out a bit early just as an ice cream van was pulling up. The driver greeted me like a long lost friend. Turns out someone had asked him to stop by the club and he thought that was me. I assured him it wasn’t but as I had time while waiting for my taxi I’d have a 99. “That taxi there has just turned up. Sure that’s not yours?” he said “No, it can’t be mine”. Of course it was mine so I sat in the back of a taxi with a 99 ice cream. Odd but enjoyable.
My Green Duck beer of choice had just gone back on in Katz so that was more good timing on my behalf and I had a nightcap in The Walsall Arms to break up the arduous 25 minute walk home.
What a cracking day. I’m going down to Delves Road for some more rugby soon.