When the last of my children gave up competitive sport I gave up watching live Saturday sport. I made exceptions occasionally if the weather was exceptionally good or for a major event but insisted to anyone who would listen that my days of trudging up and down sidelines in the wind, rain and mud were over.
Watching provincial rugby union in New Zealand is not about comfort. In rural areas such as where I live the rugby grounds have basic facilities. There may be club-rooms in which to socialise after a game but they rarely offer the best view of the game. To get a good view one invariably has to stand on the sideline.
photo courtesy of Mid Western Rugby This is a photo from last season.
My oldest son has been coaching the local seniors team for a few years now and I have been to an occasional game, but not many - and always in good weather.
I braved a keen wind last Saturday to wander across to the rugby grounds which are but a short walk from my new home.
Yesterday's game was only about a 20 minute drive from here, it's a very pleasant drive and my daughter was also going to attend so, despite the threatening sky, I rugged up and ventured forth.
My camera stayed in my pocket. The young lady who takes photos for the club is truly dedicated. I try to watch the game and keep warm at the same time, that is enough multi-skilling for me.
At least I know my recently purchased umbrella is reliable in strong winds and heavy rain.
As we enjoyed a drink in the warmth of the club-rooms after the disappointing result we were talking about how things used to be when my kids were youngsters. Our club prided itself on our hospitality and always put on a 'feed' for the players and their opposition after the game. Each player was asked to 'bring a plate' of something to share with their and the other team. When my younger son was playing in the Under 13s, two other mothers and I were the only ones who turned up each week to put the meals on the table. However, despite constant reminders, only 5 boys brought something to contribute to the meal (for 30 players, reserves and supporters!) so we would purchase and cook up sausages for them. Boys that age love a sausage on a slice of bread!
Anyway, one Saturday another mother came along with a beautiful sponge cake, complete with strawberries and cream, a wonder to behold. She couldn't understand the appreciation of the three regulars because, as she explained, she sent one along for every home game. When she discovered no such cake was ever received she was not amused.
After the game, she came storming into the kitchen with her son's ear firmly in her hand and the lad looking very embarrassed.
"What have you got to say to these ladies?"
"I'm Sorry", he blurted
"Sorry for what?" she demanded
"Sorry for throwing Mum's sponges out the car window."
I never did find out who used to drive the car, I think it was an older brother.
And I wonder if that lad remembers how he thought a sponge was too sissy to be seen with.
It took me ages to remember the lad's name, I had totally forgotten all about him so just had to look him up on Facebook. Looks like he's enjoyed a sponge or two in the last 35 or so years.