It will soon become plain that I am in fact a season ticket holder at Allianz Park – home of Saracens. Some very clever marketing saw that happen 6 years ago now; £10 to watch Saracens play Northampton Saints at Wembley was too good to miss for a sports fan. Then it was rude not to but a season ticket for a mere 89 English Pounds.
Watch a team week in week out and you build a loyalty; I’d be lying if I said I was thrilled with the brand of rugby on offer 6 years ago, but I’m pleased to say things have improved beyond recognition since those days.
The 1st game of 2015 and therefore of my sporting year was against London Irish; I’d been to the away fixture where Saracens won with a last minute try; ‘Daylight Robbery’ was I believe in the title for my match report! That will follow at InTheLoose.com
In spite of the fact I very clearly know my way there I still plugged my satnav in; amazing how quickly we get used to these gadgets! It told me the journey would take an hour – and it was right! I didn’t feel the need to shout at too many people on the motorway, but I did mutter to myself about how silly people were for driving at stupid miles per hour in a wet road! They’d clearly never had the joy of aqua planing!
I park at Mill Hill Broadway Station when I go to Allianz; £5 for a Saturday and free on a Sunday – not bad at all. I got there way too early so treated myself to a Costa. Thanks to my lovely friend Sharon I now know how to ask for a hot chocolate without the horrible froth! So… A skinny, wet, extra hot, hot chocolate was ordered! Perfect!
A free shuttle bus completes the journey to the stadium; it’s fine in the light, not so good in the dark. The walk from the stadium back to catch the bus really must be done in company if you’re a lady alone, it can be a tad scary!
I lingered in Costa, so had a chance to say hello to what is becoming a big group of lovely friends before I took my seat. A lot of regulars seemed to be missing the game so I had to say I was surprised when a crowd of 9306 was announced. I think maybe some of those people were dressed as seats.
It’s best to go prepared for weather at Allianz, the cover is there but is quite dependent on the direction of the wind if it’s raining as it was today. And, I know this is a mad thing to say, but it was that thin, really wet rain today so a most attractive Saracens bobble hat was called for.
Certain parts of the ground aren’t covered at all, I’ve had friends from visiting teams arrive to find themselves fully in the open to then get soaked as the game progresses – not such a great experience; but one I believe Saracens are working on.
A few words about the actual game itself – hmmmm – it wasn’t the best game of rugby union I’ve seen. I will write a lot more in my match report but that’s not the purpose of this blog; there were more than a few schoolboy errors. Including a penalty kick to touch by Owen Farrell; which missed touch!
David Strettle scored the only 2 tries of the game, showing just how good a winger he is; Owen Farrell added 4 penalties to take the home team to 22; Tom Homer adding 2 penalties to put Irish on 6. The game was am attritional one, I imagine more than a few of the forwards on the pitch will be nursing the odd bruise this evening.
Billy Vunipola was awarded Man of The Match – without seeing the stats for the game I’d imagine he was the man who carried the ball furthest in the game. Ben Ransom also shone for me for Saracens, taking his chance at fullback.
London Irish lie just above a woeful London Welsh at the foot of the table; but they defended their line well and denied Saracens any sniff of a bonus point; that has to be admired.
The end of the game was a time to catch up with friends and drink tea; I know how to live! The main ‘bar’ at the ground is under the stand, an area that doubles as a running track. The lack of anywhere to sit is a bit of a problem and perhaps doesn’t encourage people to linger too long. But the atmosphere is as always at any rugby ground a friendly one, with fans of both teams mingling.
A real highlight of the game was the presence of so many people involved with the Saracens Sports Foundation. For the 2nd year in a row the club has used a game day to raise funds for the Foundation; again an article to follow, but a quick snippet – they do fantastic work with all sorts of groups – including Special Needs Children, many with Autism, Young Offenders and Over 50’s groups – getting people exercising who otherwise might be sitting at home. At least £14k was raised on the day!
Now for the useful information part – I was a little remiss today and will seek more info on the array of food on offer at Allianz on my next visit – but here’s a taster.
- Cost of Ticket – £40 per month
- Pint of Beer – Saracens Ale – £3.80
- Laverstoke Park Pies – £4.50
- Pie & Pint – £7.00
- Red Wine – £4.00
- Tea – £2.00
- Gingerbread Latte – £2.80
- Cake (Saracens Logo) – £2.50
- And yes – ladies toilets – this has to be done! There are toilets in a porta cabin type unit outside, which are clean and have soap, toilet paper etc, but they aren’t the biggest and the steps are a bit scary. The toilets indoors are a much better prospect.
- Safety – I know my way around – but I have to say at times in the dark getting back to my car I’ve felt a little insecure
- Nicest moment of the day – seeing all the people involved with the Foundation on the pitch at half time.
- Best moment of the game – David Strettle’s first try – how that man hasn’t seen an England shirt for ages I do not know!
Another Costa, without the cake on the way home! Then for me a journey up the M1 to Leicester where tomorrow I’ll watch Event 3! I did shout lots on that journey – to myself of course. It appeared that the inside lane of the M1 had nails in it! Well something that kept lots of not very fast cars in the middle lane anyway! Oh my days that annoys me! So lots of shouts of MOVE OVER! On the way here. Crazy Essex Lady on the road again!
More tomorrow – and yes it’ll be rugby again – the 15 man one that is