Head over heels
It's St Valentines Day and Angela Powers reveals why she has fallen back in love with Millennium Magic.
Last Updated: 14/02/11 1:54pm
I'm going to start with a confession. I was dreading Millennium Magic weekend.
Seven rugby league games, back to back, in FEBRUARY? What kind of mad idea was that?
After two years in shivery Scotland, in May, there was no way people were going to sit happily for two days in one of the traditionally coldest months of the year. Were they?
I mean, it's hard enough to stretch your kids' boredom threshold beyond a full 80 minutes...imagine what it would be like for two days, in icy conditions. I said up front it was a non-starter.
I was wrong. This year I fell back in love with the Magic Weekend. And here are my five big reasons why the rugby league family should embrace the concept as a traditional season-opener and support it in anyway they can, even if it's just from the comfort of the sofa. Sing along now...
Always take the weather with you: When I whinged about the potential for frozen toes and fingers, many of you pointed out that the roof at Cardiff would be closed and that would keep us warm. I scoffed. But you were right. It kept the stadium snug and cosy and improved the atmosphere. What your response also showed me was that positive attitude can also make a difference. The warmth of the camaraderie among fans meant that wherever we were, the disposition was sunny.
Stuck in the middle with you: Edinburgh is a beautiful city, but it didn't work for the Magic Weekend. It took a greater effort the get to the stadium from the city, and as a result many had to make a choice about which games they really wanted to watch live. The geography of the Millennium Stadium meant that just popping out for a beer and a browse of the shops was an option without having to sacrifice enjoyment of the games. Cardiff is the home of Magic Weekend. Let's stop wasting breath and time debating other venues. It won't work anywhere else.
Two Tribes: The return to derby games. Wow. Why did we ever think anything else would work as well? I felt privileged to be there, witnessing the passion that the games generated. And surely for the players, no game is gonna get you pumped up for the season better than a fixture against your oldest traditional enemy.
Get this party started: My fears about the weather conditions are now cast aside, so let's urge the RFL to begin a new RL tradition. Critics had complained about the whimper start to the season in previous years, now we get an almighty big bang to get the party started. The close season drags on for an eternity an the one thing all fans have in common is the desperate desire to see their side back in action with a vengeance, Now we get to enjoy the experience en masse. The RFL got it spot on this year too, with regard to 'entertainment', opting for the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). No Cheggers, no ambitious distractions at half time. Just abseiling mascots and a daft race across the pitch. I loved it. Experience has taught us that the only entertainment we need is provided by 13 men against 13 men, for 80 minutes.
Sound of the crowd. Yes, the stadium did look a bit empty, all of those seats unoccupied. But 30,000 in one ground for a league game? Isn't that what we should be celebrating? It really is time to stop getting hung up on bums on seats and look at the wider picture. Clubs still got income from ticket sales; the fans got an away day and those who couldn't make it for whatever reason, still got to watch every single game from home. And all in 3D if you wanted another dimension too. The atmosphere inside the stadium for 90 percent of the weekend was wonderful and outside the ground was as special as ever.
In a perfect world, we'd have a bank holiday on the Monday after Magic Weekend, a day for recovery and travel. But for me the good points outweigh the bad and I am glad the RFL have persisted with the concept. And I, for one, am delighted I was proved wrong.