Everyone has dreams. Some are bigger than others. Some are mere ambitions or desires, some are plans to take over the world. Either way, it’s a little victory whenever one of these comes true.
For years and years while growing up our family would take a trip to Twickenham stadium every year to watch our club rugby team open the season by watching their first matches. There’s something about the atmosphere of a live rugby match that you can’t quite put into words. Everyone there is simply there for a good time.
My friend and I used to take along our pocket trumpets to show our support and do what we could to entertain the nearby crowd around us, playing a limited reportoirre of The Mighty Quin, The Muppets and Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The thing is, even before you’re really aware of what’s going on, it’s the atmosphere you go for, whether that be sharing a good word with your fellow fans or shouting your guts out against the surrounding opposition. When you watch it on TV you just see the match and wish you were there for the rest of it, when you’re there, you always wish you were a little bit closer, slightly more in on the action.
Last week, after years of joyfully playing my pocket trumpet in the stands, I had the absolute privilege of playing in a band, in the stadium, for an England France rugby match at the home of rugby. It started with a set of classic marches on the concourse to welcome the fans into the stadium, followed by a very similar set on the running track, pitch-side as the players were warming up. To the point that one of the French players kicked a ball into the band, mid piece, causing a marshal to clumsily meander through the cornet section trailing behind it. And I have to say, when the camera man is right in your face, it’s a bad time to get a fit of the giggles when playing, particularly when you realise that that is all that’s on the big screens around the stadium.
Then came the presentation of the international flags. We lined up in the tunnel, in march formation, and marched around the pitch and then directly onto the centre of the pitch, while the players continued to warm up around us. Proudly we stood and played Jeruselem as the flags were presented, within touching distance of some of our favourite players. I’ve never had acoustics like it, there’s something to be said for stopping playing the note at the end of the piece and hearing it ringing around the stadium, lingering in the seats for a good few seconds. And, although it’s great being diligently cheered on by a small group of family and friends in a church hall, but there’s nothing quite like being applauded and cheered by an uproar of just over sixty three thousand rugby fans.
A truly unforgettable experience. Standing on the pitch, playing to a live audience of sixty thousand, dodging rugby balls as we play and somehow both my parents were able to come in and see the spectacle too because, as I’ve always said, you can get anywhere with a smart enough looking camera. With that done, we then got free tickets to the match, front row, pitch-side, directly behind the goal posts with an incredible view of two fantastic England tries and even complementary meal tickets for playing. What can I say, it’s not often I get pitch-side tickets for an international rugby match, the opportunity to step foot on the pitch and fill myself with junk food all for free. An incredible experience I won’t be forgetting in a hurry and such a priveledge to be a part of. 🙂