Posts Tagged ‘QM2’

England v Northern Ireland, Friday July 15th 2022, 8pm

July 22, 2022

I’m not sure if I’ve arrived at a game by way of a boat before. I probably have, although not after spending a week sailing across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2. I like the relaxing nature of a sea crossing and I managed to get more steps in by lapping the deck than I’d been able to do in the summer heat of the southern US. I still had plenty of opportunities for idling on a deck lounger watching the small birds that follow the boat and the porpoises that flit along the Gulf Stream. One morning there was a pod of whales and whilst most were content to briefly surface and exhale air, one very kindly put on a show of backflips as he passed us by.

On the way into Southampton Docks, we sailed past Marchwood Power Station. I’d worked there for around eighteen months back in 2008/9. It all looked very peaceful at five in the morning and it was interesting to see it all from a different viewpoint, despite me not being able to spot anything that I remembered.

One night after work at Marchwood a couple of mates and I fished at the inlet, despite signs telling us that we shouldn’t. We caught some fish, but they were too small to keep. Even if they had been bigger, I doubt we’d have taken them as there looked to be a fair amount of industrial discharge into the water. I’d like to think that those fish were still swimming around as we passed by this time.

Whilst working at Marchwood I lived a short drive away in the New Forest and enjoyed the sight of wild ponies lolloping around. As we had some spare time, Jen and I spent a few hours in Lyndhurst. There were as many horses around as I remembered, and I pointed out the places in the village that I knew from my stay.

I recalled taking in a game at Totton in the Wessex Premier Division and also an early FA Cup Qualifying fixture at Brockenhurst. For some reason though, I didn’t ever make it along to St Mary’s Stadium and it remained one of the Premier League stadiums that I’d still to tick off.

When I saw the schedule for the Women’s Euros and realized that we’d be arriving in town on a day with a fixture I booked a hotel and waited for the ticket sales. My ticket cost forty quid, which seemed expensive for a tournament that is hoping for full stadiums, but on the basis that the match sold out almost immediately, it looks as if whoever set the prices got it right.

Our hotel was a half hour walk away from the stadium and the route took me across a bridge where I got my first view of the ground. Even with an hour to go to kick-off there were lots of people making their way to the game.

There were sizeable queues at St Mary’s, with a lot of groups of kids, presumably school or sports club trips. There were also a lot more family groups than you generally see at men’s fixtures and far more women and girls. There were also a lot of same-sex couples attending, something that is still not really noticeable in the men’s game. All in all, a diverse attendance and without any undercurrent of violence. There wasn’t much drinking going on and if any of the schoolkids were doing coke they weren’t yet at the stage where they were fighting each other.

 

I had a seat in the east stand, perfect for a view of the sun going down. I got a good view of the play as well and an England performance that, whilst it didn’t quite reach the heights of the eight-nil Norway game, was far too good for Northern Ireland.

There’s a gulf between the full-time and the part-time players but Northern Ireland did their best to keep it tight, holding out until almost half-time before conceding but then quickly shipping a second before the break.

Two early goals in the second half suggested a rout might be on the cards but England didn’t take their chances and, in the end, ran out five-nil winners. Both teams took the applause at the end, with England topping the group and Northern Ireland heading home.

New York Mets v Colorado Rockies, Saturday 8th June 2019, 7.15pm

June 14, 2019

It’s a while since I’ve been to a sporting event, the last one being a football game in Spain three months ago. There has been stuff going on in Malaysia but with it being so hot and with Ramadan kicking in, the matches haven’t been starting until 10pm and that’s too late for me. Shame really, as ex-Boro player Herold Goulon was in town recently with his Pahang team. I’d seen him play for the reserves at Central Avenue  a few years ago and thought it might be worth seeing how he was doing these days, but my curiosity wasn’t enough to justify a midnight finish.

It will be unlikely that I’ll see any more Malaysian sport now as I’ve finished my contract at the power station. Three years was enough to see whatever I wanted to in the region and I’m gambling that after a bit of a break I’ll be able to pick something up closer to home. My daughter and grandkids came out for a holiday before we left and we took a trip over to Sarawak to get up close to the proboscis monkeys and wild pigs.

proboscus monkey

After flying back and making full use of everybody’s luggage allowance Jen and I set off for a holiday in the States. I’d not been since we got married in 2013 and so felt it was time to catch up with her family and see a bit more of the place. To make it more of a trip we went by boat from Southampton, a seven night crossing on the Queen Mary 2.

Queen Mary 2

I really enjoyed doing very little for a week. Internet access was slow and expensive so I barely bothered with it. Instead, I wandered around the deck and rounded off my evenings in the cigar lounge in the company of Roy Walker. I didn’t get around to seeing his show but he’s a very nice fella to smoke Cubans with and not at all ‘big-time’.

We were late into New York after diverting to Canada to drop off a passenger who wasn’t well. This meant that we arrived in the daylight rather than before dawn. Disembarkation was slow and so we spent a couple of hours on the deck loungers watching the river traffic on the Hudson go about their business.

Statue of liberty

Our first couple of US nights were in Long Island. I liked that it wasn’t full of tourists. I’m a tourist, but I’m happy to avoid the bustle of others if I can. It didn’t take long to get into Manhattan on the subway and so were were able to catch up with Jen’s brother and sister who live there whilst I walked around with my head tilted back in classic tourist pose looking up at the skyscrapers.

empire state building

I’d booked tickets for the Mets baseball a few months ago, but was spoiled for choice when the day came. GGG was fighting at Madison Square Garden and there was a big race meeting at the Belmont Horse Track. I’d probably have preferred the boxing but thought I might as well stick to the original plan rather than waste the $51 tickets.

We took the subway to Citi Field and had a wander around outside the stadium. Our seats were in the Bullpen section which is around by second base. It was fairly busy getting in but our phone tickets were scanned successfully and we were carrying nothing that attracted the attention of the security blokes.

citi field

Once inside, I headed for the beer queue. It was a short queue mainly because they wanted a minimum of eleven dollars for a beer. That’s about nine quid. I’m on my holidays though so we ordered a couple of twelve dollar Stellas to be greeted with “Do you have ID, Sir?”

As I’m fifty-four I rarely get asked for proof of age these days and I didn’t have anything suitable with me. Fortunately the lady behind the bar suggested that I get someone else to buy it for me and the person behind was happy to go through the pointless charade of taking my money, handing it to the bartender and then completing the reverse process with our drinks. After all the fuss I was happy to settle for the single round.

citi field concourse

Our seats were in the middle tier, but with it being a sharp incline we seemed close to the action.  I was surprised by how many empty seats there were though. It filled up over the first hour but there always seemed to be as many fans in the concourses as there were in the stands. It wasn’t helped by the chilly weather though or by the wind blowing through the seats.

citi field second tier

Whilst I’ve seen a lot of baseball, this was my first Major League game. To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed.  The balance between bat and ball seemed out of kilter with only the one decent hit in the time we were there. Too many of the pitches were top-edged into the crowd behind. The pitchers slowed the entertainment down by opting all too frequently to try and run out batters already on bases who were attempting to sneak a yard. Just get on with it.

One of the best things about the game was that the pitchers have to have a bat. None of that replacing with a pinch hitter nonsense. One had a really low average but was happy to have a slog which is what I’d have hoped all the batters would be doing.

citi field

Long before the end we’d had enough. A combination of little in the way of action, the arse on of obtaining an expensive beer and the cold wind blasting around us meant that we cut the evening short in the fifth innings with the Mets a run ahead. They added another after we’d left for a 5-3 win. In hindsight I should have gone to the boxing.