Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A first away day experience for an aspiring pundit

In my time as a Bath fan I've enjoyed the occasional away day quite a few of those I was lucky enough to go to Twickenham several times through the 80's and 90's. As for my eldest son's first Bath game was at the age of five where I got to take him up to Twickenham to see the final against Leeds, other than that he's only had the pleasure of watching Bath at the Rec. I felt at the age of 13 the time was right to take him on his first true away game expedition, our chosen fixture was Wasps at Adams Park.

Armed with belief, hope and expectations my son and set off on our boys day out heading in the direction of High Wycombe. Two wanna be pundits sat in the car chewing the fat and talking up the chances of Bath in this doable game safe in the knowledge if the Bath we believe we know can play. Surprising the so called knowledge that can be shared between a 13 and 34 year old in one journey, we would of put Austin Healey and Stuart Barnes to shame.
As we nestled down in our seats we noticed we had entered what can only be classed as a mosh pit of Wasps fans, this was to become a very enlightening experience during the match. A little bit of warm up action was going on in front of us, was good to see the Bath Boys looking fresh and confident. As we watched the players walk back done the tunnel we sat waiting displaying our colours like proud peacocks, filled with the belief this was a good chance for Bath to earn some valuable points.

On the return to the pitch my son was surprised by the difference in volume between fans, being more familiar to Bath receiving the cheers. Hats off to the Wasps faithful they certainly know how to make some noise. Slightly intrigued by the referee having to wait for the music to die down before blasting on his whistle to get the game under way.

We were soon to be jumping for joy, cheering and shouting as after 26 seconds saw Nick Abendanon crossed the line giving Bath a 5-0 lead, the Wasps fans around us really were not of the happiest bunch. To hear such a large voiced opinion through the match from the opposing fans was really actually very interesting, as majority of the time their opinion differed from mine and my sons. The differences of opinions I suppose comes from the passion of the game and your team, a decision goes against your side and you feel the referee is being unjust and at times harsh on your side, the rose tinted glasses syndrome. My personal view on the game it's self was the referee had a poor game for both sides equally, unlike my Wasps counterparts sat near us.
Through the game I found some of these differences of opinion to start becoming mildly amusing and realised this is how the Bath faithful must sound to opposing supporters. The two yellow card were a true sign of people's views over the officials decisions, both saw a player from each side spend 10 minutes on the naughty step.
Tom Varndell saw yellow for a an aggressive but borderline dangerous tackle on Agulla, lifting and driving him to the floor, the contentious decision was given over the lifting of the leg above the head. The swarm of Wasps surrounding me couldn't believe it to be to harsh and never in a yellow, although five minutes before kick off were discussing Toby Floods 'Tip' tackle. Vardell's yellow raised more anger after seeing Claasens bundle over in the corner after Mearsy offloaded to him of the back of a maul, Donald converting adding more salt to the wound.
The tables were firmly turned as it was Dominic Day to see the flash of yellow for pulling Cannon down in the line out, for his infringement Day was met with a huge chorus of 'off, off, off, off' this is a huge irritant of mine. I'm not stating that only Wasps fans chant this as I've heard it too many times at the Rec. Following the yellow for Day Jones had a shot for the penalty in which one lonely Bath fan opted to shout breaking the silence which was being observed for Jones' kick, from this one of the home supporters got very aggrieved announcing ' the Bath fans behaviour was disgusting and should be escorted from the ground'? This same fellow was quite happily joining in with the rendition of the 'off's'
This may come across as me slating the Wasps fans, I'm not for me and especially my son it was so interesting hearing the flip side of a fans view. We get so used to being the dominant crowd we sometimes forget what it's like to be the away supporter.
As the fixture progressed on and reached half time Wasps went in as the leaders aided with a Christian Wade try. The Second half started well with a Heathcote penalty, who came on at half time to replace Stephen Donald. Unfortunately the home side slowly turned the screw and through the second half became the more domineering side. The final nail in Bath's coffin came when Chris bell crossed the line after a chip over from Simpson, in that move sadly Abendanon opted to stick out a heel and trip Simpson resulting in Abendanon getting his turn in the sin bin. A desperate measure from Bendy which saw him turn from the sublime to the stupid in seconds. The pressure from Wasps in the second half had be so much it had seen them even turned down on two TMO decisions for tries. The final whistle came as Bath fought hard to at least try to rescue any signs of a losing bonus point but this was not to be, it finished with the home side winning 29-15.

The return journey home saw my son and I slip into punditry mode again and discuss our analysis of the Bath performance. A 13 year olds perspective can be very refreshing, the added bonus of him been very keen on watching and playing he's also quite a knowledgeable little man.
Our synopsis was-

The first half was a well balanced game although Bath failed to capitalise on their fantastic start.

Players that we felt had a strong performance for Bath were Louw (as always), Banahan ( covered good ground and hit some solid tackles), Mears (always in the mix a solid performance) and up until his little lapse into foolishness nick Abendanon (always unpredictable and everywhere)

Bath tried to build down the pitch and at the last minute attempted something a little too much and lost possession, almost trying to force things and concentrate on keeping possession.

Discipline!!!!! Where do we go with this, just to much ill discipline from Bath. Relentless unnecessary infringements giving away unnecessary points adding extra pressure to themselves to play catch up.

At times Bath seemed at sixes and sevens almost not knowing what to do, is there unrest between the players over contracts, players leaving, rumours of players coming in and then there is the whole Brad Davis situation.

Regardless of the final outcome of the game my son had an awesome first away game and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, hopefully next time the 'boys go on tour' Bath can top it off and win! Also if there's anybody out there wanting two bemusing pundits we're open to offers!

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