Old Prop Steve

Old Prop Steve

Will You Be Coming With The Pirates To Ireland ?


Will You Be Coming With The Pirates To Ireland ?


The Musings Of A Grumpy Old Prop

May 29th 2009

Now they have published the fixtures for next season one jumps off the page at you - Leinster (Away).

This conjures up the wonderful prospect of some fabulous 'craic' in the fair city of Molly Malone (her bronze statue is known locally as "The tart with the cart") between the Cornish and local supporters and a brilliant weekend for one and all.

Oh we know the Pirates are unlikely to be facing the Brian O'Driscolls and the Leo Cullens of this world, as this will be an international weekend, but you can bet your life that the Dubliners will still have some exceptional players to call upon

It wasn't always that way of course. The great Tony O'Reilly once said that the state of Irish rugby was always desperate but never serious and until quite recently everyone knew what he meant

Now Leinster as Heineken Cup winners have achieved something which we can still only aspire to in Cornwall - namely to sink their varying club identities (Blackrock, Wanderers, Bective Rangers etc) into a common cause and set the city, and European rugby in general, on fire with their deeds.

My first introduction to the mysterious world of Irish rugby folk came when I was ten years old and my parents misguidedly tried sending me to a Catholic boarding school in Somerset.

The chap who took us for rugby most afternoons was a wild-eyed Irish monk called Father Brendan. With a shock of white hair which stood straight up on end, he would rush around the field with us whilst kitted out in his cassock and a pair of galoshes. If it was wet he completed this fetching ensemble with a battered umbrella.

One freezing February afternoon everybody wanted to stay indoors but he would not hear a word of it. Having somehow got us out onto a snow flecked muddy field, he was counting us up just in case anyone had managed to give him the slip. This gave one of my mates the opportunity to pinch his whistle and chuck it into some nearby stinging nettles.

He was incandescent with rage but, despite a series of threats which would have done credit to the Spanish Inquisition, nobody owned up. Undaunted, this total madman somehow got a game started and attempted to referee it by pedaling furiously up and down the touchline on old black bicycle ringing the bell whenever he thought there had been a knock-on or a forward pass. It was not a success.

Whilst on the subject of Irish priests, the Pirates used to have a young one who followed us avidly for a couple of years. His name was Father Flynn and he was based in Penzance at the church up in Rosevean Road.

In the days long before the Press Gang, supporters could usually hitch a ride on the team bus and one Saturday he came along for a game up at Devonport Services. After the match a few of the older members of the team felt it might be a good idea to venture into Plymouth itself and perhaps introduce this young man of the cloth to the rather more secular diversions of Union Street.

Well fair play to him. He stuck manfully to his vows of obedience and chastity (despite the repeated attempts of two very large Beryl Cook-type ladies to derail him) but got around the one about poverty by drinking everyone else's beer. Indeed by 10 o'clock he was offering eternal salvation to anyone who would buy him another Guinness. Being in almost as bad a state as he was, I was daft enough to fall for it. I wonder if it will do me any good?

Nobody quite knows yet how this new competition (which appears to not even have a sponsor as yet) will turn out but I am sure this will be one match well worth saving up for.

I am equally sure you will have a weekend to remember or - depending on the Guinness - not as the case may be.

Will you be there?