Super Saturday and the search for Irish Andy (Hint: He’s not in the pub)

If you enjoy this article you can comment and follow me on Twitter @maddadskillz or Facebook or Instagram.  The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

“Come to London, we’re going for a high brow Indian then to a low brow Irish pub for the game”

“You aren’t watching? Great frenetic game”

“You should have come down this evening, we could have shared this anguish (and pizza/beer/wine!)”

Based on my text messages from Friday night, it seems the Ireland vs Wales rugby clash in this year’s Six Nations was a good one.

I wouldn’t know.

I sat down with 5 mins to go in the first half when Ireland were leading 6-5.  I woke up, an hour later, still on the sofa, with a screen full of celebrating Welshmen flickering in front of me.

I don’t even have the excuse of night feeds or sleep training anymore. It was simply a long normal day. Kids dropped at nursery as soon as it opened (0730), so I could make it to work early. Busy, long day at work then collect the kids again just before nursery closes (1815). A late evening Playdough session with my 4 year old. A 1 year old who skipped her afternoon nap and so fluctuated between overly tired and not-in-the-slightest-bit tired throughout dinner and bath time.

Nothing remarkable, just a normal Friday nowadays, for Andy.

It’s quite the contrast from the days of Irish Andy. That man was a hero. A champion. A legend worthy such an imaginative nickname that his friends combined his country of origin and his first name. A “normal” Super Saturday consisted of getting to O’Neills as soon as it opened (1100) then power drinking 4 pints of the black stuff so he’d have a novelty Guinness hat before the first game kicked off (1300).

Today Andy has been “present” for most of the game but remembers nothing because my closed eye lids were in the way.

In days past Irish Andy was “present” for every Six Nations match there was but remembers nothing because he was too busy dancing on the tables and singing songs of the Old Country.

Funny dichotomy isn’t it? Funny to think that two such disparate activities as playing “The drinking game that is 20 plus 1” and reading “That’s not my tiger” can exist within the same person and be so equally enjoyable?

But they are, they genuinely are.

In fact if you factor in the lack of hangover associated with parenting then it’s actually more enjoyable! (Not that you could have told 20 year old me that)

And so to Super Saturday…

I have spent two very different sets of 80mins today. One involved tears and cheers, gripping the seat with my fingers and constant cuddles from my son. The other was the Ireland v England game.
Don’t get me wrong, the Ireland game was a good one. The result was a delight, the boys deserved it.

However those 80mins were accompanied by my son asking “Daddy will you play with me?” a total of 4 times. There is nothing I hate more than telling my child “no” when he asks to play with his father.

He brought over a book to read about 15 mins in. I confess, we did that.

My wife, just to give me some peace, valiantly walked 40 laps of the living room with our daughter who has recently discovered the joy of being on two feet but not quite walking.

We paused the game with 10 mins to go so we could eat dinner together and do bathtime/bedtime. That took the edge off the climax of the match somewhat.

All in all a fairly guilt ridden and distracted 80mins of rugby.

However, I am absolutely not complaining. In fact it’s hard to explain how much I really don’t care about half missing the rugby today.

This is because I spent two hours this morning at our local cinema watching Moana with my son.

Arm rest removed, snuggled together, tub of popcorn between our legs, and a fantastically funny and uplifting Disney movie on the screen. These were far and away the most super 2 hours of my Super Saturday. He laughed repeatedly, he shouted out when the boat capsized, he asked 100 questions afterwards about Mauri creation myths (a personal favourite subject of mine).  It was excellent.

As I’ve reflected on this change in weekend activity I realise something:

It’s never been about the event, it’s about the company.

I don’t remember the scoreline when my 3rd XV where beaten in the semi finals on the cup in Schoolboy rugby, but I remember my dad was there, before, during and afterwards.

I don’t remember what time of the night it was, but I do remember the two people I was holding hands with in San Francisco, in an all-night Irish bar, surrounded by Aussies, as Jonny Wilkinson won the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

I don’t remember much of what we said or where we went but I know my wife and I’s first date lasted 12 hours.

I don’t remember where we went but I remember the many mornings I awoke in Camden with two of my best friends on the sofa beside me.

I don’t remember what celebs we spotted but I remember who (another30something!) I spontaneously burst into a skip with as we got to go backstage at Download 2012.

I love rugby, I love the 6 Nations, I love Super Saturday. But I love the memories of Super Saturday because of the lads I’ve shared those memories with.

Yet, on this Super Saturday, spending the morning sharing popcorn with my 4 year old trumped all those past Saturdays.

The beauty of the company of children is that it doesn’t matter what you are doing. Whether it’s something mundane, something that seems childish or something I used to look forward to every March. If I’m doing it with my children then it is immediately elevated to the status of highlight of my day.

If you enjoy this article you can comment and follow me on Twitter @maddadskillz or Facebook or Instagram.  The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

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