Jaqui's Daily Blog

A Football Match, a Buffet, and Meeting Les the Legend

Driving to Kent yesterday, Mr B and I were discussing what exactly constitutes a “Gourmet Grazing Buffet.” We understood each of the words separately, it was what happened when you put all three together that we were wondering about.


The reason for our journey? Back in early January when Mr B celebrated his Big Birthday (that is, one with an 0 at the end) his present from the family was a day out at Gillingham Football Club. Before anyone starts chortling unkindly, this was not just any day out at a footie match. We were to be wined and dined in the Champions Lounge, no less, before, during and after the match, and we would meet both a “Gillingham Legend” and the Man of the Match.  


We had been told in advance that the Gills Legend on Saturday was to be one Les Riggs who played for the Gills in the 50s and also in the 60s. Mr B was sure he remembered him, not just from his Gillingham days, but because he was pretty confident (if he’d remembered the right person) that he and Les used to play cricket together for Bobbing Court Cricket Club in the days before we were married.  Furthermore, he told us, Les Riggs was possessed of the most piercingly bright blue eyes. The Eldest of the Darling Daughters (who was accompanying us on our visit) and I were a little worried that when we finally met Legendary Les we would not be able to stop ourselves gazing into his eyes to check out just how blue and how piercing they were. It might be a tad embarrassing, we thought.


Now my past experiences of attending football matches have generally involved turning up half an hour before the match in order to (i) find somewhere to park and (ii) to soak up the atmosphere. As a result I was often chilled to the bone before the match even started and half-time seemed such a long, long way off. Once reached, half-time would be spent queuing for the loo, returning to my (uncomfortable) seat to find that my coffee had gone cold in my absence. At the end of the match, we would have to push our way through the crowds and trudge along the road to find the car. It wasn’t so bad when we won, it was downright miserable when we lost.


After Saturday’s experience, dear reader, I now know that It Does Not Have To Be Like That. On arrival at the ground we were greeted with a complimentary programme, a lanyard with a “Champions Lounge” card attached, and a first drink on the house.  That was followed by the Gourmet Grazing Buffet which was, quite simply, one of the most delicious buffets I have ever had the pleasure of grazing. We were half way through our just desserts when Les the Legend turned up, accompanied by a sweet girl whose task was to make sure that he spent enough time with us but made it out onto the pitch in time to be applauded for his legendary status by the waiting crowd.


Yes, it was the same good old Les Riggs whom Mr B remembered. His eyes were not quite so piercingly blue as Mr B had led us to expect -  but then he is now 78 years old so they have doubtless faded a bit, rather like the roses in my cheeks. He didn’t exactly remember us personally but he did remember his Bobbing Court days . Those were the days when professional footballers were Ordinary Blokes who didn't earn a fortune but turned out for the local cricket team in the summer; whose wives were not WAGs but made the sandwiches for the team tea. I am pretty sure Mrs Legend and I made tea together on many a sunny summer afternoon.  “Here’s to the Bobbing Courters!” said Les the Legend, as we posed for a final photograph before he had to do his “Legend Bit” out on the pitch.


Here were just some of the other advantages. Padded seats! Yes, I will say that again. Padded seats! Bliss! Then at half-time, we scuttled back into the Champions Lounge for hot coffee and biscuits to warm us up before the start of the second half.  At close of play we were back again for a few post-match drinks while the crowds dispersed.


The result? Well, yes, that was the only disappointment in an otherwise perfect day. The Gills lost by 3 goals to 1. Mr B says that the fact that I was more excited by the Gourmet Grazing Buffet and the half-time coffee and biscuits is proof, if proof were, indeed, needed, of what he has always said: that I am Always Thinking Of My Stomach.


After the match, the poor lad who had been chosen as the Man of the Match was trotted out to meet us. We felt so sorry for him, he so clearly didn’t want to be there, in the Champions Lounge, answering questions about a match in which he had been rather decisively on the losing side, Man of the Match or not. We didn’t prolong his agony by asking him to pose for photographs with us.


Thank you, lovely family, for a great Birthday Present. Your Dad loved every minute of his special day out. So did I.


I can’t speak for Les the Legend but he seemed happy enough.

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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