It's much more than a game of rugby.
Army V Navy
Twickenham, 29 April 2017
The Army Vs Navy rugby match was first played in 1878
And has been played, annually since 1909.
About 10 days before this match, which had been on my bucket list,
I had taken delivery of my first proper camera in 25 years.
A Fujifilm X-T2 with an 18-55mm kit lens.
An ancient Olympus OM-1, being my first and last proper camera.
Rugby: A hooligan's game played by gentlemen.
Is how I’ve heard it described.
And walking from the train station, just like international rugby matches I'd been to,
I felt perfectly safe.
Football matches, or soccer, as Americans call it, I’ve heard are quite the opposite.
£40 was the cost of the tickets.
A family deal, where we, Claire and my two sons, along with other families were seated in a special section.
The mile-long walk to the stadium was a clue as to what was to come.
Men, mainly, in fancy dress, which is the tradition.
There were Smurfs, Ronald McDonalds, Storm Troopers and a lot of men in drag!
I spotted two SEG motorbikes (Special Escort Group – google it) and a Range Rover parked up within the perimeter.
Which meant a Royal was there - Prince Harry.
Just two bikes and a car is a little light for a Royal Prince.
But with 80,000 current and former servicemen and women there, too, you’d imagine he’d be safe were it to kick-off.
The game was good and not without injury.
At one point, there was a player being treated on the pitch.
An ambulance was brought on, which always subdues the crowd.
But, unusually, whilst being treated, the crowd started cheering and laughing.
Which was a bit uncalled for, until it was clear why.
Ronald McDonald was running around on the pitch being pursued by about 10, slightly over-weight, marshals.
Ronald did a great job - ducking, dodging capture for about 2-minutes,
Until, to the boos of the crowd, was caught and thrown out.
But there were more. He was one of about twenty-five, very 'merry' Ronald McDonald clowns there that day.
Another tradition, I was told, is if a player scores, or is singled-out by the TV cameras,
He has to buy his whole unit a drink.
Speaking of drinking, lots was drunk.
The Army won.
I have no idea what the score was, and I suspect lots who attended had no idea how they got home either.