I often look back at the years of rugby I have played, doing my very best to be nostalgic. There have been some truly wonderful times, some horrid mom-ents and indeed some of the biggest laughs I am ever likely to laugh. However, the one thing that strikes me every time is that most of my career to date is a blur.
Sure, if I try hard enough I can often recall individual matches and even incidents during them, but it is difficult. This may well be due to the silly number of impacts my poor skull has sustained, but more likely is that this is just life.
"These are the days you remember," said our former head coach, John Connolly, before the Premiership final in 2004. Sadly we lost, and Connolly was right; try as I might I cannot forget it. As with so many former athletes, I am convinced that when I am no longer a player the matches I missed, along with those I lost, will be the ones loitering around in my brain's hippocampus. Yesterday at Twickenham, against the same team that beat us on that day in 2004, will be one of them. The venue, the crowd, the weather, the sheer value of the points at stake made it an extremely tough game to watch on television. I promised myself I would be wandering with my dogs in the Somerset wilderness, pretending the match was not happening, but I knew really where I would end up. The fact that we managed to win in wonderful style did, I must say, make the whole ordeal closer to bearable. Hell it was, but ultimately endurable thanks to the result. A pesky muscle injury denied my body the chance to play yesterday but no doubt planted it in my subconscious mind for eternity.
There will, I hope, be plenty more days, especially as I am intent on playing for Bath well into my forties (I have not yet communicated this desire to our new owner but he is a nice bloke, so I am confident. Anyway, even if he says no I intend to hijack a room at Farleigh House and claim squatter's rights). So the aim of this sportsman – and presumably all others – is to do whatever it takes to ensure the great memories outweigh the bad. Not necessarily a mantra sufficiently romantic for the Hollywood big screen but one that, in reality, would leave a retired rugby jock happily sitting in his armchair.
My lust for the big occasion is, of course, purely sporting. The clubs themselves, however, see things somewhat differently these days. Imagine the revenue generated by an event such as yesterday. Without knowing the exact numbers, one would presume that gate receipts from this game alone would have been worth months of regular home matches.
And these extra numbers could not have come at a better time for Wasps. Having reportedly been threatened with a winding-up order by HM Revenue and Customs regarding unpaid sums to the tune of more than £1 million, a bumper turnout must have been more than a little welcome. Although Section One of my Bath contract states that I must, at all times, maintain hatred of all things Wasps, it saddens me to see such a great club hard up for cash. They should not be.
This is easy for me to say, of course, but how a club that has been so outrageously successful in recent times is anywhere other than in the black is, to the simple man, surely a mystery. Much like sitting next to a kid being scalded by the teacher at school, two feelings spring to mind: poor kid; but thank God it is not me. Without meaning to sound smug (after all, it is not my money, sadly), there is a certain sense of safety about being at a club that rests in the hands of the financially secure.
Wasps, for whom it was wonderful to see tighthead Phil Vickery confirm his return to fitness yesterday, of course will not go to the wall. They will fix up this little mess and plough onward, leaving a trail of battered opposition bodies in their wake. Just as we seek to emulate their success on the field they, no doubt, would love an owner like Bruce Craig to arrive on the training pitch in his helicopter, gold teeth shining (this never happened, but I am willing to spread the rumour if you are) and banish unpaid tax bills into the atmosphere.
One thing this Wasps generation has over us is the collection of trophies they will take with them when their shifts are over and they clock out. But we are working on that bit; the fat lady has not yet begun her vocal warm-up. We do not want to operate in a blur; we want to be in high focus, building memories along the way.Reuse content