And so, we reach the end. The 30ᵗʰ and final day of November means the end of Movember for another year. It may have only been 30 days and at times that feels like nothing, but then other times it feels like so much longer.
As always, I have really enjoyed taking part. As someone who can grow a pretty decent amount of facial hair in a couple of weeks, I’m always excited to grow the Mo this month, even if it does mean going clean shaven at the start of the month and showing off the chins, which I hate doing!
A massive thank you to my fellow Mo-Bros in the office – Gaz and Mike – and everybody who has once again supported me and donated. There is still time to donate to our office’s fundraising efforts for Soft UK, who support families affected by Edward’s syndrome. If anyone wants to donate, our office’s fundraising page can be found here. Any donations, big or small, will be greatly appreciated!
Also you may have noticed the colourful shirt in my latest picture, which is an OddBalls product. OddBalls are a clothing brand that specialises is funky patterned clothing. They initially started with boxers but have widened their range to a number of underwear styles, socks, sportswear, sunglasses, shirts, towels, hoodies, pyjamas and more. While the products are fun and comfortable, the reason that I mention them now is that the sale of these products covers the running costs of the OddBalls Foundation, which is a charity that hopes to make a difference to men’s health all around the world.
Interested in buying some of their products? I am a brand ambassador and as such have a code for 10% off all orders. So if you want to put in an order head to their website www.myoddballs.com and use the discount code TIMOTHYETHERIDGEBALLS and get a bit of money off some great products.
Now as we prepare to enter December, the fun begins of growing out the Mo back into the beard, as well as beginning to make plans for Movember 2019…
Now part of the reason I have been doing less updates than I hoped is that I had some time off work at the start of the month to use up my holiday, so getting back into the swing of things with work, combined with watching a lot of rugby for my write-ups of the Autumn Internationals and working on some articles for the Schmoedown’s new website, has taken up a lot of my time!
The good thing about going back into work though was finding 2 of my colleagues were joining me for Movember this year. Now I would happily be the only one in the office doing it but having some fellow Mo-bros taking part – especially in these days when so many people are quite protective of their beards and don’t like going back to a naked chin – makes Movember so much more fun. So without further ado I give to you the Zurich trio taking part in Movember: myself, Mike and Gaz.
We are all raising funds as part of our office’s fundraising this year for Soft UK, who support families affected by Edward’s syndrome. If anyone wants to donate, our office’s fundraising page can be found here. Any donations, big or small, will be greatly appreciated!
On Saturday June 26th, 4 lads from Gloucester set out on an adventure to London to watch Exeter take on Saracens in the Premiership final. Myself and 3 other friends from work – Ash, Phil and Sam – had gone to last year’s final and after thoroughly enjoying ourselves decided to make it an annual occurrence, booking our tickets early to make sure we didn’t miss out. After a late shift swap at work (apparently I can’t count alternate weekends correctly) we were all set to go.
Wanting to get there relatively early to avoid the traffic, we met at Sam’s at 8am and travelled in style in his Merc (yes, he’s a show-off but getting to ride in the car we didn’t care!). Of course heading off so early, there was only one way to start the day: a carvery breakfast… perfection! From there it was time to get on the road, with DJ Phil in charge of the tunes and blasting out the cheese and 90s hits for the whole trip down.
As with last year, parking wasn’t an issue as we had rented out a driveway months in advance – if you haven’t tried this before, I highly recommend it – and this left us just a few minutes’ walk from the stadium. Having got our bearings we went in search of a watering hole and found a pub not too far out the way full of Exeter fans… always fun when 3 of us have been given Sarries flags on the way there! While enjoying the sun to varying degrees (I’m ginger so not very much!) we decided to make a friendly wager on the final score, whilst also selecting our picks for first try scorer and Man of the Match (though the money was based only on the result). After a pint there, we made our way back to Twickenham and through the gates. Arriving at the ground earlier than last year, we were able to join the crowds to welcome the teams into the stadium and all but Ash replaced our Sarries flags with Exeter ones. We then spent some time enjoying the atmosphere, chatting to some other fans – including a discussion with a lovely Saracens fan about the new Gloucester badge – and also taking part in a couple of the challenges.
Phil, Ash and I made a passable makeshift front row for a scrum simulator, while Sam was the only one to have any success on the place kick simulator, putting his final kick through the posts while the rest of us struggled to even get the ball to reach the posts in the air. And of course, there was no way we were going to turn down the chance of a photo with the trophy! This chance to enjoy the entertainment alongside fans of all the different Premiership teams reminded me just why I love rugby so much; you wouldn’t be able to do this in many football leagues.
From there we made our way up to our seats in the top tier and we were able to appreciate just how well the seating at HQ had been designed as despite being so far from the pitch we had a wonderful view and were still able to discern who most of the players were with relative ease. The game began and even though the result did not go the way 3 of us wanted, we all enjoyed the match and the atmosphere so much! For more on my thoughts on the match itself, see my article here. After the game, we stayed in the stadium a while to applaud Saracens while they celebrated their win, allowing the worst of the crowds to disperse as we knew that the road we needed to get onto would be closed until 6pm.
From the stadium, it was a short stroll back to the car and by this point the roads were beginning to open up, though it still took a while to get out of London on some of the busier roads. Phil was given the honour of being allowed to drive the Merc home and Sam took over as DJ for the return journey, treating us to some easy 90s, cos everybody loves a bit of Phil Collins. Similar to how the day needed a good start at the carvery, it needed a good finish too, so we stopped at the Harvester at Swindon services and filled ourselves up while catching the first half of the Champions League final on Phil’s phone, while I relied on a friend for updates on the Pro14 final. Suitably well-fed, we got back in the car to complete the last leg of the journey and found ourselves bidding ach other farewell about 9pm.
A 13 hour day well worth it, bring on next year – hopefully with Gloucester competing in the final!
The 2018 Aberystwyth 7s tournament saw the return of the Pistol Shrimps for a 7th consecutive year. 11 lads in perfect shape (round is a shape) packed their bags and as the mist descended on Aber, the Shrimps came back.
Having formed the team in 2012, this was my 5th Aber 7s and I was looking forward to getting back with the Shrimps, having not seen any of them for 12 months. Some of the regulars weren’t able to make it this year due to other commitments (apparently we’re meant to be responsible adults now) but we still had 3 lads making their Shrimpy debuts this year.
Travelling from Gloucester to Aberystwyth by train is not a quick journey. I left Gloucester just before 11am knowing that I would be back in the bubble about half 3. Luckily after a quick stop at Birmingham New Street – including a frantic run around trying to figure out the new layout to get to my second train – I joined fellow Shrimp Limmer on the Birmingham – Aberystwyth stage of the journey. With 2 Shrimps now together it would be rude not to start drinking and luckily the ever-prepared Limmer had some lagers for us classy blokes to get through. We arrived in Aber to the flat we were renting to find that the Chairman of the Bridge himself, Mike Gledhill had already arrived and filled the treasure chest (fridge) with the nectar of the gods.
The next few hours were spent making a start on the collection of beers while more Shrimps arrived as the afternoon went on, and once the majority of the team were there we went to our sponsors Scholars for our annual pre-tournament dinner, wearing previous years kits and in the case of Meat Bag a banana outfit (for being the dope who almost turned up a week early). As a huge Star Wars fan, the decision to wear old kits out on May 4th (Star Wars Day) was great as it left me wearing my original kit with “Chewbacca” on the back! From Scholars, we could have gone for an early night to prepare for the next day… but instead decided to follow our Shrimpy instincts and began a long tour of half the pubs in town – and there’s a lot of pubs! As any night in Aberystwyth goes, we ended up dancing the night away in Yokos until it closed – not caring at all that we’re about double the age of the freshers – and making our eventual way back to the flat at 5:30am. Personal highlights of the night included a rousing rendition of YMCA in Downies and my helpful attempts at wingmanning for a fellow Shrimp (when it turns out that was the last thing he wanted/needed) and repeated hugs and cries of “Why are we both still out?!” every time I ran into one of the backs for our first opponents, Lingboks in the middle of Yokos.
Whose stupid idea was it to stay out until half 5 when our first match was at 9:40am?! After a measly 2 and a half hours sleep I fell out of bed and made a beeline for the toilet to become the weekend’s first chunder bumder. Feeling very much worse for wear, we dragged ourselves down to Blaendolau playing fields for our opening match, which we lost 14-34 to Lingboks – who went on to top the group.
With the sun out in full force and my skin partial to burning under a full moon, the sun cream was out every 30 minutes and by our next match the team were feeling more alive, helped by the arrival of Seb who had missed the first match having got lost on the night out and slept in the back of his car! No luck catching them Swans then? faced a much-revived Pistol Shrimps and we ran out 17-29 victors in our second match, but we then lost our third match of the day 19-28 to Al-try-eda. To me this match was probably my biggest disappointment of the weekend as we should have had a penalty try on the stroke of halftime as their last man deliberately knocked on what would have been the killer pass to put our captain Ste over in the corner, only for a scrum to be awarded. The automatic 7 points, combined with the 2 minutes he would have spent in the sin bin would have been the turning point in this match.
With results being very up-and-down, we finished Day 1 on a high with a 52-0 win over A bit Pongy and a 14-22 victory against Budgie Smugglers to leave us 3-2 for the day. Our match with A bit Pongy will stick long in my memory as twice I was denied my first ever Shrimps try mere metres from the line.
Back to the flat and the old man in me wanted nothing more than to climb into bed and sleep for a year, but I dragged myself out with the team to watch the Haye v Bellew fight – which I surprised myself by calling a Bellew win. Once that was over, the old man in me won out and I went home to recover ahead of Sunday’s guaranteed 3 matches.
As one of the few Shrimps to get an early night, I was certainly one of the fresher lads on Sunday morning. Luckily we had a slightly later start, but not by much, and after a delay getting through the gates we had about 15 minutes to get our boots on and warm up (if you can call 2 half-hearted stretches and a couple of passes of a ball a warm-up). We saw off Fish and a Rice Cake 29-12 and then completed our group with a 24-5 loss at the hands of Aukland BLBs to finish in 5th place on points difference.
We then had a couple of hours off before our Trophy quarter-final, so I took a chance to go watch a friend’s team Wolfpack Legends – who we have developed a relationship with due to both playing decent standards of rugby and coming back for the rugby (and the sesh) every year and having often played in the same league – win their next couple of matches.
Losing track of time, I almost missed our own match and after finally finding the pitch (as far away from our regular pitch as possible) I turned up for what proved to be our final match: a 0-5 loss to Triglycerides. To say this was not a classic 7s match is an understatement, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many scrums in a game before. Lack of sleep and proper stretching between matches took its toll on both teams and the handling ability of pretty much every player and Triglycerides finally got the only score of the game from first phase off a scrum (shock!) with the final play of the game.
From the field, we stopped at a pub on the way back to fill up with as much food as we can, and prepared for the big night out with some drinking games. I don’t know if it has a real name, but it was introduced to us by Andy the year before as the Stacky Cuppy Drinking Game… I now like to call it the Stacky Cuppy Fucky Timmy Uppy Drinking Game as a general lack of motor skills led to me getting absolutely ruined before the night out even began.
When we left the flat, it was off to Harrys for a GAA – can’t have a trip to Aber without one of them! – before returning to Scholars for Kangaroo Court, led this year by The Right “Honourable” Judge Limmer. I wish I could tell you some fun stories from this and from the night after, but I’ll be honest I was such a state I don’t really remember anything and I’m not sure I even made it to 11pm before being back in the flat passed out in my bed.
The biggest benefit of being passed out so early on the Sunday night? No hangover on Monday! Though saying that I still had to be woke 30 minutes before our 10:30am checkout and still felt dead to the world.
After cleaning up the flat and checking out, it was off to Wetherspoons for the annual Monday debrief over a giant breakfast. As the next couple of hours went on, the group began to thin out as people began to leave to go home, and at half 12 I waved goodbye to Aber for another year and began my journey back to Gloucester, arriving back just after 6 and proudly showing off my numerous bruises on the way home.
Getting in, it was pretty much a case of going straight to bed and continuing my recovery, being very thankful that I had booked time off so I did not have to be back in work until Friday.