Two games into a new season and with feet firmly planted under the Round Table, the Alies were joined by Matron and Wally (Chairman) at different times for updates and there were plans that this duo would be travelling on the coach in the future; their choice of wines are bound to provide the Sommelier with more opportunities to display his expansive knowledge of the world of the grape.
One of Susan’s specials was the centre fold of the pre match lunch for the Warrington fixture followed by two delicious creations on the sweet trolley. Alas the Major was not up for gateaux and because there was an absence of cheese and biscuits he threw caution to the wind and for his sweet course he had another helping of meat pie, as you would!
Another brilliant sunny Saturday for the Warrington game, the Accountant managed to stay upright which was fortunate because his two minders, Minimus and Maximus, were on ground duty. It was also noted that Matron had moved the fire extinguisher in the Maurice Armstrong County Bar to avoid any unsavoury entanglement with the Press Secretary.
The Warrington victory ended a run of ten consecutive defeats but the Alies remained moderately sober, although the Accountant voiced his concerns about the imbalance of the rounds if one had not taken a pre match lunch. Going solo appeared to be the answer.
Bowdon’s committee and travelling supporters were in fine form before and after the game; the lock gates of the memory bank were flung wide open by Doctor Foster with his tales of the rakes progress proportions when he played for Bowden. There could be collection of familiar faces in the bar for the return fixture on January 11.
For the first way league game of the season at Firwood Waterloo there was strong turnout of travelling supporters, including Wally. What an honour it was to have Wally aboard, and during the game in between sorting out his business with “BetFred,” he displayed remarkable knowledge about the working of Pythagoras, Euclid plus an understanding of some of the mysteries of trigonometry when he was working out the distance covered by Alex Briggs’ kick for touch in relation to the angle and height of one of the floodlight pylons. Where were the clinometers and slide rules when you needed them? Despite rummaging through their pockets the Alies were unable to unearth any geometrical aids that would solve the problem.
Rachel, added even more glamour, Healing Hands Hannah however, is always a much appreciated and regular traveller. Rachel had been well primed and donated a fine bottle of Casillero del Diablo to the cellar, although the Sommelier was heard muttering when he rattled the rack searching for Wally’s donation.
Once the Platelayer had finished given Warren, the driver, advice on how to tune his radio, and the Press Secretary had collected the updated fares, there being no complaints about the increase, the Sommelier sprang into action and even though it was only a short journey to Blundellsands, caps were quickly whirled off some fine vintages, flung into the rubbish bag, as the slurping began.
Traffic was quite heavy which kept the Sommelier busy and although the Major was not there to prompt him, he was down south testing a pizza oven under battle conditions, tumblers were regularly topped up with sort of amiability one expects from a top tippler. When the Alies were escorted into The Pavilion their mood could be described as buoyant and once the Loafer had sorted out his table some of the chosen ones enjoyed a splendid lunch surrounded by likeminded members of Firwood Waterloo. Unfortunately the clock ticked far too quickly to kick off time but once the game was over the hospitality and conversations continued at a merry pace until departure time.
In addition to further libation on the return journey, Woggle, resplendent in his new blazer, eat your heart out Mint Cake and Tiler, produced a selection of homemade tasty morsels, baked by the fair hand of Mrs Woggle. Rum Truffles, Rocky Roads were lip smacking delicious and quickly formed a bond of friendship with the wines that was only momentarily broken when the Loafer and Wally were thrown out in Lancaster.
In the week before the Keswick game the Alies received the sad news that Jonty Fallows from Wilmslow RUFC had passed away after a brave battle with illness. Jonty over the years had established a rapport with the Alies, obviously recognising kindred spirits; he was always there to welcome the Alies when they arrived at The Memorial Ground and was soon lining the pints up and when he visited the Vale he was invariably the first through the door with a beaming smile.
Of course, prior to any meeting with Jonty there would be an exchange of views surrounding what his attire would be, nearly always something linen and pink, because he was a dedicated follower of fashion. But it was not just his dress sense that Jonty will be remembered for, he possessed a cheeky sense of humour, a love of the game which transcended all levels, he was the driving force behind many of development projects at Wilmslow and who can ever forget tucking into his organic egg sandwiches, minus the crusts.
Some of the Alies, the Major, Press Secretary and the late Historian took to wearing red trousers for the Wilmslow fixtures, but they could never quite reach the high standards of sartorial elegance set by Jonty.
Alas the world of rugby had lost another of its characters. Jonty is not only going to be missed by his immediate family but by the many friends he had made with his infectious personality which burst through every time you were in his company. By heck Jonty you were something special.
The fixture against Keswick was enhanced by the large number of guests attending the pre-match lunch. Out in force was a contingent of former players, all visibly recognised from their playing days in what to many people was a “Golden Era” that stretched from the late eighties through to the early nineties before professionalism, for better or worse, exerted its strangle hold on the game. In addition, Dan Rainford was hosting a table which was composed of current players who were without a game.
Muggy and the Press Secretary were honoured by being invited by Matron onto her table for the pre-match lunch and although some of Keswick’s officials were delayed, there was plenty to talk about, not least the horrendous start to the season for the Cumbrians. The Alies could totally sympathise with the situation that Keswick find themselves in because the memories of last season still remain; thankfully the Sommelier put his shoulder to the wine wheel on those away games to ensure that the demons were kept at bay.
It was all calm on the East Terrace during the Keswick game, just a minor outburst following the red card but it has not gone unnoticed that any game is more enjoyable to witness when the cherry and whites are not getting hammered.
Places were at a premium at the Round Table after the game but once chairs had be adjusted, the status of the beer confirmed, everyone settled down, although there were audible groans from those who support Liverpool FC as the clock ticked down. Between intakes of breath and even though it was the round ball game, the Accountant was cruelly asked on numerous occasions, “What is the Bury score?”
There was a bumper turn out for the coach to Stockport with a long queue forming in The Lane to board Dwaine’s ‘bus. Although seats occupied by the Alies are not reserved the same bottoms are tend to be parked in the same spot so it quickly became a talking point when Coo Coo Ca Choo eased herself into the seat behind Dwaine where she was joined by an incredulous Loafer.
Meanwhile Matron and Spanner’s Mate had made themselves comfortable and soon whipped the Prosecco out of the freezer bag and well before Junction 34 was reached the bubbles were bouncing. Some concern was expressed that the fridge on the coach was warm as was the smell of fish paste that appeared to be drifting from the Alies direction.
Once the Press Secretary had put his ticket machine away the Major, aware of the pace being set by the Prosecco imbibers, instructed the Sommelier to begin filling the “glasses” which included a delicately shaped goblet that the Loafer had acquired. With a few muttered oaths the Sommelier started to fill the tumblers, but Coo Coo Ca Choo declined the grape, preferring a bottle of still water.
Dwaine adjusted the vents on the roof but following complaints about the breeze coupled by some near the knuckle observations as to whether individual flaps should be opened or closed but the Alies had other matters to occupy their fertile imagination when the Press Secretary produced a copy of “i-spy On a car journey” which was a present from the Major.
Between the sipping and slurping, and once the task that confronted the Alies had been explained, eye balls began to rotate, the Press Secretary’s biro began to cavort over the pages as the spotters began calling out their observations. Ticks began to fill the pages as the points started to mount; Tracked Excavator 10, Car with a canoe on the roof 15, Power Station 15, Plane taking off 10, Truck Trailer 5, Starling 10, Buzzard 25. What larks indeed, but it helped the wine and journey to flow. At the end of the spotting 185 points had been accumulated, still a long way off the points needed, 1000, to qualify for a certificate and badge.
Despite the defeat and the second half soaking there was a positive, friendly atmosphere on the coach, helped by some delicious chocolate cakes from Woggle. The ambience increased once the obligatory “offy” stop had been made and the excitement began to build as the “virgins” prepared themselves for the “scum run.”
Soon the drumming and shouting grew louder and the thump of flailing fleshy limbs heralded the arrival the cherubs. They zoomed over the backs of the seats and the occupant’s heads, a few inquisitive souls bravely opened an eye to catch the sights, and they came in all shapes and sizes; others let their imagination run wild having no wish to be awake all night after witnessing such nakedness.
It had quite been like old times on the way back from Stockport and this was reflected in the clubhouse back at HQ where Alies and players enjoyed more beer and banter before wending their way home or for others who were off for some voracious vamping in downtown Lancaster.