Even though I’m not even 39 yet I have managed to tick the first task off my 40 list. At the tender age of not quite 5 months, George made his first trip to the home of English rugby – Twickenham. The game we took him to was the London Double Header on the opening day of season – a game featuring four of the London rugby teams including the current champions, Harlequins.
We had some history with this fixture as I had already bought tickets for last year’s game before we knew my wife was pregnant. George actually made his first trip to HQ whilst growing inside his Mamma and was helpfully giving her morning sickness that resembled a tropical disease. The year before we witnessed a try-fest in our corner and my lovely wife failed miserably to get Tom Varndell to wave at her before succeeding in getting a bemused Austin Healy to wave back. Happy days.
All the preparations for the big day were going well. George had out grown the Ireland top his Mamma had bought him at Dublin airport leaving his England top with his name on the back as the only alternative. I had successfully purchased some baby ear defenders in case it got noisy and as you can see from the picture they made him look super cute. All good so far.
We left for Twickenham in good spirits but by the time we had navigated the appalling traffic we were rushing to get to the ground in time for kick off. I bought the tickets late this year and didn’t manage to get pitch level tickets like we had before but I didn’t think this would be a problem. When we opened the door on to the stand I realised I was wrong and it was far higher and more exposed than I thought it would be. George was strapped to my chest in a baby carrier and seemed happy so far. As I walked up the steps to our seats he set off a chain reaction of ‘aahhhss’ as the people on the end of each row caught sight of him. When we got to our seats he seemed to settle down but it didn’t last long. Our seats were under the top tier and when the crowd started to cheer the noise had nowhere to go. George didn’t like it. He really didn’t like it.
We quickly removed him and my wife spent the rest of the first half inside the stand playing with George. At half time we took a few pictures at pitch side for the family album. I wanted to record the moment when George surveyed his territory for the first time ahead of him captaining England to another crushing Grand Slam victory. It’s a dream that makes me happy! Despite the fact it meant missing her beloved London Irish, my lovely wife let me go back in for the second half while she took George outside to sit on the grass in the sunshine.
By the time the majestic Nick Evans had inspired Harlequins to overturn a 40-13 deficit and steal victory with minutes left on the clock, I was more than happy with our day. I bounced out of the stadium to find my wife grinning from ear to ear and brandishing her phone. A quick check of her photo gallery revealed a photo of her and George with former England captain and World Cup winner, Phil Vickery. She was delighted to not only spot him but to get in before anyone else did for a photo. Although George is unlikely to remember his first trip to HQ it will live long in my memory.
Next up on my 40 list is my attempt to run faster.