The start of the cricket season meant I was due to travel to Leeds to watch Essex play at Headingley, the atrocious weather meant I cancelled my plans leaving me free to spend the weekend at Allianz Park.
SARACENS STORM V BATH UNITED
I write this as a time when there’s a good deal of angst amongst Saracens supporters after news has been received confirming big rises for many in season ticket prices.I’m one of those affected, but as well as sharing my photos from the 3 matches at the weekend I hope to convey my thoughts on this club.
I became a season ticket holder in 2009, the year my son Luke died at the age of 21 after being involved in an accident in Thailand. I’d been watching club rugby at Wasps, and took advantage of a £10 ticket to watch Saracens play Saints at Wembley which was advertised at the Double Header.
At the Wembley match Saracens staff were handing out leaflets offering a season ticket for £89, at that price it was rude not to! Wasps at that time were playing exciting rugby, Saracens not so much, I can recall sitting in the stand shouting ‘Boring, Boring’ at the top of my voice at one match. But, when you watch the same players run out regularly you gain an allegiance and the trips to Wasps became more sporadic as the Saracens season ticket was renewed. Rugby became one of my saviours to a great degree.
In those ‘Watford’ years the rugby improved but I knew only the people I sat with during the games, I didn’t really feel a greater involvement. I became single in 2011 and made more of an effort to meet new people, so would gather at a pub in Watford before the match, but there was still no sense of community for me.
SARACENS WOMEN V GLOUCESTER HARTPURY WOMEN
That started to happen when the club moved to Allianz Park, and for me Saracens became a rugby club, not just a Premiership rugby team. I live in Chelmsford in Essex so the ground isn’t on my doorstep, but it’s much better to travel to for an evening event for example.
The Supporters Association has been at the forefront of things changing at Saracens, laying on special events at the ground alongside the club that have given access to many of the players and back room staff. We’ve been privileged in getting to know how the team and club operate.
As well as all of the ‘added extras’ real friendships have been forged, large groups of Saracens fans are regularly attending away games and making their voices heard, with songs being sung for specific players. That scenario has taken me to Northampton, Sale, Leicester, Ospreys, Clermont, Harlequins, Gloucester and Worcester and those trips have been about so much more than the rugby, that’s almost become something of a by product.
However the rugby has been outstanding in recent years, I was in both Lyon and Edinburgh to see Brad Barritt and his team lift the Champions Cup. After the heartbreak of seeing Saracens lose to Leicester Tigers in the Premiership final in 2010, they beat them the following year, after an incredible defensive effort on their own line. Saracens didn’t make the final in 2012 or 2013, and in spite of featuring in 2014 they didn’t win again until 2015, but that made them Double Champions. I’ll never forget the feeling when the final whistle went for each of those winning games, just as I’ll never forget the feeling when Dan Hipkiss scored in the dying moments for Tigers to snatch the win in 2010.
SARACENS V BATH
The move to Allianz Park has changed things dramatically and the weekend I’m writing about is a real example of that. We had 3 rugby matches to watch involving the A team – Saracens Storm, Saracens Women and the following day that Premiership team.
All 3 games featured some wonderful rugby, some shout out loud exciting ball handling, and tries aplenty! The results were as follows
Saracens Storm 50 Bath United 10
Saracens Women 45 Gloucester Hartpury 26
Saracens 41 Bath 6
A cumulative 136 points for Saracens teams against 42. Wonderful results! But the best part of the weekend was time with friends. 8 of the Supporters Association had travelled to Glasgow to watch the Warriors play on the Friday. Friendships were forged when the 2 teams met in the Champions Cup last season. Based on the fact they were travelling straight to Allianz Park we had a picnic between the 2 matches on the Saturday, watching Tigers v Saints cheering for Northampton as they won.
Chris Wyles made his 250th appearance for the club and he celebrated with fans after the match, he along with Schlak Brits retires at the end of the season, both will be sorely missed both on and off the field. The whole weekend was very special and really confirmed for me that this is a club I just can’t give up. higher season ticket prices or not.