It’s taken the guts of a week to come to terms with my demons as I’ve been haunted by a terrifying vision from the start of Friday evening’s Heineken Cup opener between Ulster and Castres.
It was the usual opening dramatic monologue and suddenly the face of England’s Steve Borthwick appeared much too close for comfort and pre-watershed as well.
I’ve finally figured out who he looks like though — imagine if Bernie Winters and Schnorbitz had had a child; a scary thought I know, and you wonder why I don’t sleep at nights.
Still, no danger of a kip in Belfast, as Sky presenter James Gemmell — no sign of his dad, Archie, anywhere — explained that ‘when Ravenhill gets going, it’s pretty hard to hear yourself think.’ If only there was someone on the island with some spare earplugs…
Of course that meant we wouldn’t hear the musings of Scott Quinnell and our own Tyrone Howe, who were asked what the Heineken Cup meant to them, and for the latter it wasn’t to hand over vast sums of cash to anyone at BT6 0DG.
For Tyrone it was to mix up his beers, staring to talk about players using the Heineken Cup to boost their Lions’ chances with a stella performance. Oh, stellar, my mistake.
He wasn’t the only one in difficulties, Mark ‘Robbo’ Robson and Dewi ‘Lewis and the News’ Morris having trouble making out the invisible numbers on the visitors’ shirts and struggling to find Castres’ pint-sized kicker, Romain Teulet, or as Morris informed us — ‘Robocop’ as he’s better known.
“He’s like the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz,” added Robbo.
“He doesn’t need a massage after a game, he needs oiled,” continued Robbo, and funny I’ve met a few people at Ravenhill who’ve been well oiled after a game, but I put that down to the Heineken. Or the Stella. Suddenly we had a try and the truth was out.
“It’s white lightning here at Ravenhill,” screamed Robbo, as the barmen turned round looked to see who wanted cider but right at the end a soft drink was called off to finish things off.
It was served by Ruan Pienaar as he wandered over the line for a bonus-point try to the strains of ‘Ulster have shown they’ve got the minerals’. Lovely, I’ll have a pint of cloudy limeade, please, cheers.