No one’s ever said these two things go hand in hand, but I believe there’s potential here. Let’s see, both are appreciated by real men, both are very British, and both have an atmosphere of joy. And both occasionally end with unconsciousness. With the new renaissance in cider, it’s creeping into the sporting world. Stowford Press sponsors the English cricket team. It’s called the ‘England Cricket Official Cider’, though this suggests that drinking Stowford Press makes you a better cricketer than drinking other ciders, I’d argue that whatever cider you drink, you’re going to smash some windows if you bat when you’re lashed. However, my argument for supporting rugby with cider is much more convincing.
Cider drinkers tend to be happy people. Whether this is due to their outlook or the cider, well it’s been scientifically proven that chemicals from natural yeasts found on apple skins, are similar to serotonin*, which makes us happy. Rugby is also a game for happy people, or more accurately, happy fans. There’s no segregation of supporters in rugby, you’ll find all nations standing/sitting together, buying each other pints, laughing at the other team’s misfortune, then congratulating their perfect try. Then when the game is over, instead of hurling a chair through a window and punching a horse, there’ll be an inebriated analysis of what went wrong, and several more rounds of drinks.
It’s the last day of the Lions tour of Australia. It’s a slow start to a Saturday morning, with a gritty feeling from having been drinking wine at a bus stop at 5am, and a big list of things to do today. But I feel compelled to seek out a venue to support the Lions on the deciding game of the series. I have a walk along to the fittingly named Red Lion (or the Lion as it’s now called, but I like the traditional names of pubs, the ones that are carved into the top of the facade, with a small tree growing out of them, while from the big plastic LED sign below, the invariably temporary name flashes something trendy like ‘Luv2booz’), and I find that this cosy, but open, traditional, but modern pub is open for business with a full complement of Lions fans, and the odd Aussie, lost somewhere in the pride of lions.
Opening the door from the bright sunny street, as my eyes adjust to the gloom, I look towards the big screen, and having been introduced to rugby from a Welsh point of view, I expect that we are losing. A pleasant surprise, the Lions are 13 points ahead! Unlike a sports bar, I easily find enough place to join the crowd at the bar. Aspalls is the draught here. The cool, sweet taste is refreshing on a hot day.
Australia start making a comeback, and a mild Aussie whimper rises up from somewhere to the right, when they get a try. Unlike the first test, my telekinetic powers fail to affect the kicker in this match, (maybe it’s too early in the morning), and the Aussies are back on target.
Half time, and one Aspalls will not be enough. One more to stop the tremble in the legs. Rugby is a stressful games for the fans. In most sports, points are scored in seconds. But unlike the pretty boys in necklaces knocking a ball around a field and avoiding having their pony tails pulled out, rugby is like a battlefront. Crawling through mud, bones crunching, shoving forward, every inch counts. And then the break, dodging the enemy, the crowd are pushing their team all the way across the try-line.
Perhaps it’s the shared relief that the game is finished, that unites the opposing fans after a match. I’m thankful I’m not drinking at Welsh pace, though in equal balance, there’s no singing here, not due to any rules, just to the lack of Welshmen.
Waiting for my half time pint, I stare at the signs around the pub, and I’m suddenly struck with a divine idea from He above, that henceforth, I shall take the cider and the rugby and they shall know each other, and lo, I shall beget a pop-up cider rugby pub, and yea, it shall be called The Fruity Tackle, and yo… Oi God, shut it! I’m trying to write!
Clutching the cider for support, I watch the Lions tear through the Wallabies in the second half, gripping them by the throat and shaking their limp bodies and snapping their necks, then tearing out their poo-filled intestines to munch on. After 15 years without winning a series, the Lions have victory.
The match is finished and the punters quickly disperse into the sun-baked throng of the streets outside. In the excitement, I forgot to take a photo, so I have to make up some weird composition with a finger puppet, bottle and Wales shirt. Back to reality and my list of chores looms large, but with a Lions win and a Euromillions win of £2.10 waiting to be spent, this is shaping up to be a good day.
*this is gobsite, I just made it up