David Flatman: My revamp for the Rec? A smaller pitch and a booster seat for Mears
From the Front Row: If you don't like it, we'll extend the lease on the pa
sty stall by the toilets
Sunday 10 April 2011
The saga that is the redevelopment of Bath's Recreation Ground has been going on for longer than I can remember. In fact, the oldest article on the subject I can find was written when I was just 11 years old (i.e. a very long time ago). Over my first five years at Bath, I must have been called to umpteen meetings where a "breakthrough" was announced. These breakthroughs usually consisted of everybody being granted 15 minutes of free parking at lunchtime or the confirmed removal of some troublesome clubhouse ivy.
All too soon we players learned to use these meetings more productively, often texting friends or using our phones to look at pictures of girls. Either way, the meetings became a joke. I don't think anyone was to blame for all this, just a very complex – almost incomprehensible – set of laws and branches of ownership. And the truth is that having read about 850 articles on this one subject, I still don't quite know who owns what.
But, guess what? Maybe the sands might be shifting. Our owner, Bruce Craig, has agreed to buy our training ground (which isn't actually ours) and give it – lock, stock – to the folks who own our home ground (also not actually ours), in the hope that permission will then be granted to get digging at The Rec. Get it?
All this action could make a prop forward dizzy so I have decided to leave the politicking to the politickers and concentrate on my own job: designing the new ground. OK, so it's not actually my job, but I'm sure that once my vision is put before the suits, all will become clear. We'll start with the pitch itself. As I've been saying for years, chopping 10 or 15 metres off the width of the field would not only leave room for plenty more seats, but would also make for a far more attractive rugby spectacle. Imagine all the lovely close-quarter combat that the crowd would see and how little time would be wasted chucking the ball wide like it's American Football we're playing. The number of driving mauls would rocket and so, presumably, would spectator enjoyment. It's a no-brainer.
Currently no bigger than your average guest bedroom, and with only a couple of operational showers, our changing rooms are – when compared with those at most other clubs – archaic. I wouldn't touch them at all. No, actually, that's not true. I would build a permanent booster seat for Lee Mears. In time, this handcrafted addition will become a character feature – adding value all the while – and will meanwhile boost his self-esteem.
As for the clubhouse, well, this could go either way. Common sense says it ought to be remodelled to encourage corporate use and maximise revenue for the club moving forward. However, as I despise the ubiquitous phrase "moving forward", I think we should make it into a gentleman's club. No smoking, obviously, and with both sexes warmly welcomed, I think the cherry-red leather Chesterfield sofa and aluminium whisky bar would go down nicely post-match. Add in acres of luxurious deep-pile carpet, some complimentary velvet slippers (embossed with the club logo, naturally) and a bit of mood lighting and, in my opinion, you've got the ultimate corporate environment. For those who don't like it, we'll extend the lease on the Cornish pasty stall by the toilets.
Then there's the question of half-time entertainment, and this is where my plan comes into its own. After all, the fans' thirst for action must be sated. As the teams lope in for oranges and a cuppa at the interval, the Bath Rugby Academy players enter the Colosseum-themed stadium dressed as gladiators. They then proceed to wrestle one another while the crowd cheer. It sounds bizarre, but tell me the public won't love that?
It's probably time I put these ideas down on paper and submit them formally. We adore the Rec as it is and will, no doubt, love it even more should permission be granted to overhaul the old beast. What with all this action, I just hope my plans get there in time...
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