Finally home from Niger and treated myself to a short break in my most fave place in the world, Rome.
Having booked everything, I realised with horror the schoolboy error I’d just committed. First test Australia v British and Irish Lions was taking place when I was in Rome.
Homework done, bar found (thanks Twitter) I headed off happy.
Rome was its usual awesome self, combined with the fact my daughter was there on her hols too, so we met up and did lunch, it was wonderful.
Saturday morning arrived, leisurely breakfast by the rooftop pool before donning my best Lions shirt and heading to the Bulldog Bar. On arrival I noted a large amount of Australian shirts and only one Lions shirt, me, in the mirror.
Banter commenced, all was going well, Lions score, I’m on the table screaming. The match continues, a really good game of rugby, with less than 10 minutes to go Lions are still winning by two points. Noooooooo, disaster, the ref (who didnt have his best game with the whistle it must be said) blows for a very kickable penalty to Australia. Cue the shouting and cheering from the Aussie contingent. Up steps Curtly Beale …… he’s missed it.
I’m now hopeful of a Lions victory, with my possibly biased eyes, we’ve probably just done enough to merit the win.
Into the last minute, the ref blows for another Aussie penalty, right in front of the posts 40 yards out. The Aussie’s on the pitch are jumping all over the place, they’ve won. For them the match is in the bag. Beale, a man fresh out of rehab for drink and drug issues, puts this over and the first test is won. As one, the Aussies in the bar all stand up, leaving their partners behind and head to my table. They all sit around me, laughing and joking, as we sit watching Curtly prepare to make me miserable.
The ball is on the kicking tee, Beale has gone through his pre-kick routine, pin drop city all over the rugby watching world. He takes his run up …. and slips. He’s missed it, its on target but it drops short. I’m on the table again, screaming and shouting with joy, the Lions on the telly are doing the same thing. After two or three minutes of me screaming I get off the table, and each and every Aussie in the bar shakes my hand, says congratulations and offers me a beer.
I know that if the ball had gone over, I would have done the same thing. I know how sick to the stomach I would have been feeling, defeat truly snatched from the jaws of victory, but I would have done it. I knew how they were feeling, and told them all how much I appreciated their handshakes. I wouldnt have shared those 80 minutes with those people if it wasn’t for sport, a fleeting meeting of like minded souls, a beer or two and a wonderful match to boot.
Sport? I love it.