Tag Archives: Rigsy

Smells like Team Spirit

11 Jun

I had my first ever ‘life in slow motion’ moment at the weekend.

DoorWhore$FC – Very serious team photo…

Around three minutes into our first game at a charity football tournament, I was dutifully guarding our goal when the ball came hurtling towards me. Its trajectory was heading straight towards my face. I froze. It was as if my hands wouldn’t, or couldn’t move. After what seemed like a lifetime of watching the ball spin through the air in comedic slow-mo, it smashed full force into my nose and knocked me to the ground.

I had been roped in by my friend, Alice to join her team at Roccer – the now legendary annual Belfast charity football tournament for NI bands, DJs, venues and music fans. I figured, having attempted ‘The Sports Fan’ as one of my 29 Lives, trying my hand at ‘The Sportswoman’ might be a natural follow-on challenge.

Getting hit in the face was my biggest fear of being in goal. But strangely, once it was over with and the initial shock faded, I dusted myself down and got on with it. I took one for the team. Literally.

Cheers of ‘Doyler, Doyler’ from the crowd were very encouraging.

The interestingly named, DoorWhore$FC was made up mostly of the female door staff from Belfast bar/club, The Stiff Kitten (Alice, Clare, Jenna, Lily & Bronagh), with a few of our DJ friends (special thanks to our star player, Dom, plus Rigsy & Anto), Roccer snapper, Luke Joyce and me (The Groupie) thrown in for good measure.

Despite only meeting a few of my team mates for the first time on the morning of the tournament, we instantly gelled, bonding whilst painting whiskers on our faces – an intimidation technique designed to put the boys off their game.

All the Lad-ees

It’s safe to say ‘the girls’ team’ attracted a lot of attention – drawing the most spectators to watch our matches, inciting collective cheering when passes went our way and boos when they didn’t.

It turns out I suffer from selective feminism. I’m all for women’s rights; sexual equality; equal pay etc. Put me on a football pitch with a bunch of girls facing a group of burly boys however, and I will revert to high-pitched pleas for leniency and for the ref to look the other way while we bend the rules.

Still, no one was hurt (aside from my bashed nose & our inadequately warmed up muscles); a hell of a lot of fun was had and, most importantly, our team spirit saw us through.

DoorWhore$FC in action

Team huddle.

In the end, DoorWhore$ FC scored two goals in four matches, which, surprisingly was more than some. I even managed to save three goals – including the one that rebounded off my face. Thanks must also go to the infinitely more talented goalie, whose name I didn’t catch, that stepped in to help us out for a few matches – it was great to get a run out around the pitch for the last few games.  I was chuffed to be awarded the trophy for ‘Roccer 2012 The Maverick’ – mainly props for getting hit in the face but also for entering into the spirit of the competition.

Getting my Roccer 2012 ‘The Maverick’ trophy from Miya McClean – Roccer’s friendly and very funny mascot!

Best of all, Roccer raised over £4,000 for the Marie Curie Cancer Care – a massive achievement. Congratulations to Rigsy, Alice Woods and all involved in organising such a brilliant day. I have a feeling DoorWhore$FC may make a return in 2013, though perhaps we might practice kicking a ball about before then…

One thing’s for sure, as Euro 2012 gets into full swing, I’ve a newfound respect for footballers and ‘The Beautiful Game.’

For more info on Roccer, and if you’d like to make a donation to support their fundraising efforts for Marie Curie, click here.

Special thanks also to Luke Joyce for capturing these photos of us in action. To see more of his work, head over here.

The Glenmen – In a League of Their Own

13 Dec

Glentoran F.C.

Image via Wikipedia

My last post said that on Saturday past I was embarking on the third of my 29 Lives as a DJ. Scrap that. It will happen but not just yet.

So, when my schedule changed at the last minute, I decided to take on another challenge – to live in the shoes of a Glentoran fan, and take a trip with long-suffering Glenman, DJ and twitter aficionado, Rigsy to their home ground, The Oval.

Some of you might think this isn’t really a challenge. I beg to differ. I’m not a sports fan and I have a fairly long and protracted disaffection with football. It stems from two men in my life being extremely impatient with me and obsessive about the game. Firstly, my dad just didn’t have the will or want to explain how the game worked to my brother and I as kids. Secondly, my first boyfriend – a Reading fan – dragged me kicking and screaming to every game, home and away, back when Reading were a lot worse than they are now. It was enough to put me off for life. Until now.

My Saturday morning had been spent getting my much-needed pre-Christmas hair do done, plus a little Christmas shopping. So, in my skinny jeans, leopard print dress, boots and freshly coiffed hair, I was unexpectedly off for my first experience of Irish League football. (Rigsy: “It’s not often you hear the sound of heels walking into the Oval.”)

I

I could have picked a better day, a better time of year, or, in fairness, a better year to spend an afternoon in the shoes of a Glentoran fan.

Things are fairly despondent in the Glens camp at the moment. Not long ago the East Belfast club narrowly escaped going bust following a vital cash injection from a mystery benefactor, and they’ve had a bad start to the season with a run of really bad results that have further dampened spirits. This, Rigsy explained, whilst talking at warp speed on the drive over to The Oval, has left a bitter taste in the mouth of even the most faithful fans and attendances have plummeted.

Playing Portadown – who aside from Linfield are one of Glentoran’s biggest rivals – can often be a highly charged affair, at home and away. Rigsy recounted recent clashes where there have been post-game riots and fireworks thrown onto the pitch. There was no such furore on Saturday. Several police landrovers were positioned on the grounds but aside from the burger vans’ crimes against food, they had little to worry about.

In the first half, we sat in the stand – Rigsy updating the official @Glentoran twitter account with match updates (of which there weren’t many) and me trying to follow what was happening without asking too many annoying questions, and perving on the players in the programme – the very impressive Glentoran Gazette.


With the score still a fruitless 0-0, just before half time we made a dash for the aforementioned burger van – I’d been told via twitter that I couldn’t leave the Oval without sampling one of the burgers. There literally are no words to describe the experience – I honestly don’t think I’ll ever forget that acrid greasy taste. Never again.

My tastebuds were not ready for this.

My mood was somewhat lifted meeting a few of Rigsy’s fellow Glens fans at half time, including Sam Robinson – a fourth generation supporter and the brains behind the excellent Glentoran Gazette. What, I asked him, brings him here week in, week out, in freezing temperatures to watch his team? “It’s in my blood,” was his reply. His grandfather was around when The Oval was bombed in the Second World War; East Belfast born and bred, he grew up streets away from the famed Glens ground and this is just what he does, every game, come rain, or shine. You’ve got to admire that commitment.

Me and Sam

Rigsy live-tweeting at the match.

After a quick trip to the club room for a warming cuppa and Christmas cake, where I got the chance to see some quirky memorabilia including a picture of the late George Best back when he played for Glentoran in the club’s centenary match against Man United, and this gem of a Titanic themed picture, we stopped into the bar for a nosey.

They

Some people pay their £10 in and watch the match in here. It seems a bit odd, but, in hindsight, after losing the feeling in my big toe to a near case of frostbite in the second half, I’m beginning to understand the rationale. When my cousins brought me along to Croke Park to watch Clare in the All-Ireland hurling final as a kid, there was a running joke that the Tipperary fans lunched on ham sandwiches on Hill 16. In the warmth, comfort and comradery of the supporters’ bar, a group of about eight Glentoran men were feasting on a picnic of cheese, tapenade, olives and sun blushed tomatoes – they clearly have more refined tastes.

Rejoining Sam et al back on the terrace, we spent the second half with the sight of snow on top of the mountains on the horizon just adding to the feeling that you were about to contract hyperthermia.

The match continued in much the same vein as the first half with no score in sight. Perhaps it was the cold sending me into a near comatose state but I felt myself losing concentration, brought back only by the banter from the boys, which included random chats about Weight Watchers success, my blog challenges, Rigsy’s attempts to single-handedly increase attendances, family and music – anything other than the dire game that was playing out before us.

Then Portadown scored. And with just minutes to go, they scored again. It was a good day for Portadown, beating their rivals 2-0 on their own turf, particularly given the day marked their manager’s 25th year with the club.

It was not such a good day for Glentoran. The frustration was palpable as fans started to leave before the match finished, shouting expletives at manager Scott Young as they made their way out. But even their cries were half-hearted – they’ve lost the will to even hurl abuse.

I limped out of the Oval with numb toes thinking one thing – being a true football fan – not just an armchair fan but a true fan – is a bit like being married. You make a commitment, for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health. Unfortunately for Glentoran fans at the moment, things are almost at their worst, their club’s pretty poor and they’re all sick of it. I hope for their sake, and sanity, that they experience a rekindling of their metaphorical marital bliss soon.

I was invited to tonight’s game at Coleraine – unfortunately I can’t make it but I will be back again sometime (perhaps when the temperatures increase slightly, or I purchase some thermals) – if only to provide some friendly moral support – god knows they need it.

* Apologies for the lateness of this post, a technical glitch of entirely my own doing meant that the first time I wrote this, I lost it. Grrrr.*

P.S. I’d like to go and experience some other sports as part of this ‘The Sports Fan’ challenge, so if you follow a team you think I should see, let me know! Also, Sam blogs at http://eastbelfastiswonderful.blogspot.com/ – it’s really worth a look.

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