Cpl Arnhem reports on Army v Navy Rugby, Twickenham, May 3rd 2014
Having stayed overnight at my bearer’s house, I am up early excited that the day has finally arrived. Breakfast was honey porridge and a large mug of tea. I am now sat drumming my paws waiting to leave (why is it the female of the species always takes longest in the bathroom I wonder to myself?).
Finally, we are leaving – I find myself relegated to the passenger seat – when querying why I am not indeed driving the car, it is pointed out that unfortunately my feet would not reach the pedals. I acquiesce and strap myself in insisting that my choice of CD is played.
First stop is to pick up a friend of my bearer – I find myself sitting in the back and even worse they are taking advice from a female voice giving directions from a mobile phone, I wonder if we will ever get there!! However, right on time we arrive at our hotel near Heathrow and having deposited our bags with the Concierge and armed with the bus number head to the bus stop.
A little while later, a number of buses having passed us but not the one we wanted, my bearer decides to ask the next bus driver, who tells us we can travel free with him to another stop where will pick up our connection. One bus down and one more to go. Safely seated on the next bus we are heading towards the stadium, or so we thought. The driver announces that the bus has broken down (it had been working perfectly until he stopped!) and that we all had to get off and onto another bus. Finally, we see red and blue rugby tops, however, having been told by the driver that the bus stopped by the stadium we are waiting for a glimpse of it. Luckily a kind gentleman realises we have overshot our stop and tells us to get off at the next stop. Accompanied by a rather smartly dressed gentleman in tweed jacket, checked shirt and tie (an officer I think) we head back the way we have come and soon join throngs of other rugby-goers and friendly banter is enjoyed by all.
We had intended to visit Kneller Hall to catch the earlier matches and meet up with friends but alas it was not to be, we went straight to the stadium, where I managed to get in on a group photo!!
Having been allowed entry we joined the throngs heading to one of the many bars for a drink prior to the match. I found myself in the Sapper Bar, where my bearer and friend met up with old acquaintances and we had a drink or three. Having survived the bar (my bearer kept a tight hold of me, as many people were showing a lot of interest in my beret and cap badge!) we headed to our seats ready for the match. Feeling confident, (perhaps after one too many glasses of mead!!) I decided to stand on the railing for a better view of the crowds – luckily my bearer caught me before I slipped.
We had excellent seats in the South Stand surrounded by mainly Army but a few Navy personnel too. The match and the antics of the antics of the crowd was a sight to behold.
A Mexican wave was started and it seemed to go round and round the stadium for ever – the final score was Army 30 – Navy 17.
The match completed, we headed back to the bar and I found myself with a bird’s eye view of everyone as a kind Navy gentleman gave me a shoulder lift.
We decided to join the crowds heading to the station and not trusting my bearer and friend on their sense of direction (Shhh – don’t tell them) I asked a friendly policewoman for advice and as I was so short and she was so far away I found myself seated on her police horse!!
Richmond was our destination for the evening, one more drink followed by dinner in an Italian restaurant and then we made our weary way back to the hotel. Having forgotten to pack my pyjamas I opted to sleep in my uniform so as not to cause any embarrassment.
I was tucked in and given a soothing camomile tea sweetened with lots of honey. I dreamt of playing for the Army Rugby team one day…….
Morning came and I took the opportunity to read the Official Programme whilst I waited for my companions to pack.
We headed back to my bearers house to relax in the garden and recover …… I now know what the saying “a bear with a sore head” feels like!! …..
The following morning my bearer very kindly let me use the rowing machine and then it was back on the sun lounger to await my lift back to HQ.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye. I received a fond farewell from my bearer and, who knows, perhaps we will go on other adventures together……