Monday, April 4, 2011

Thing 354 Carrying the Flag

Now, you see that? That's me on the pitch at Thomond Park. This is commonly referred to as "being a jammy git". It's what happens when nice people find your stupid blog to be mildly amusing and offer to help you out for funsies, and then through mates of theirs manage to get you the chance to walk on to Thomond Park just before the biggest game in Irish Provincial Rugby, in the most historically rich stadium in Europe, waving a giant Munster flag.

Thomond Park is well known for two things at match time: The awesome and incredible noise level as the fans get sucked into the game, and the equally deafening silence that comes with each kick. While on that note, a tip of the hat to the clown who gives Leinster fans a bad name with his "Sexton for Ireland" chant in the run up to O'Gara's kick. If you're reading this, I hope you tripped comically on a banana peel on your way out of the stadium.

There's no place to get a better idea of the noise level then right down on the pitch. The roar as the team came out gave me shivers. You think it's loud in your section of the stand? Trying be on the pitch, where an absolute tidal wave of screams batters you. It's no wonder so many professionals don't like playing against Munster here. That shit is intimidating.

It's part of the pre-match festivities. Members of the Munster's Supporters Club, and the Supporters Club Choir (who are class by the way) sing, beat drums and carry flags onto the pitch. I got to carry one of them there flags and was within whispering distance of the players. I didn't whisper though. That would have been weird.
That there is a nice picture of the legends that organised the whole Thing for me. Aren't they lovely? And die hard Munster fans. How could you not love them?

The Ozzie came with me, because I thought it would be nice for him to see a game of skill and aggression. He's used to watching Ozzie Rules Football, which is, let's be honest, a complete mystery to everyone, including the people who play it. I don't think he was prepared for the atmosphere. Standing in the old players' entrance just prior to taking the pitch. I wondered was this what it felt like for the pros? Then I remembered I was carrying a flag and at no time was I going to be asked to tackle Jamie Heaslip, and I came to my senses.

There was more than a touch of awe to the whole thing. Because, you know, I get all weepy over Munster. I wish that was a joke. I cried both times we won the Heineken Cup.

Then, of all the things to happen... me and the Ozzie got the television....
What you're looking at in that photo is a post-manly-hug-smile. It's an awkward moment for all concerned, but I was too happy about winning to care.

It was hilarious. I think just about everyone I know who wasn't at the match texted to tell me that they saw my "ugly mug" on the telly. Seriously, I think like 90% of them used that exact phrase. "Ugly mug"!! Jerkbags, my mom says I'm handsome. So I got like thirty seconds of TV exposure, and I got to walk out the giant Munster flags before kick off. Awesome Thing.

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