I opened a letter this week from the Canterbury Rugby Union. Straight to the point it said, ‘We haven’t forgotten you’. We have missed you, and we would like to welcome you back to future games. Further more, our Stadium rebuilding programs have now been completed and we would be delighted to see you back in our Stand again. To explain, we have been absent for some two years for a multitude of reasons. However there’s a fat chance getting us to change our minds and return. They treated us so badly over the last year or so when seats in the Stand were at an premium, that we now prefer to stay at home, further I have let our three seats lapse. In the future we will now watch any future matches in the comfort of our lounge on the wide screen TV.

At one time we had it so good, this also included our allotted parking right at the ground,. This facility meant a lot to us, as we were finding it difficult to trek for the mile or so to get to the game from the nearest available street parking. Large crowds were at this time were in attendance. Sure some patrons consumed large amounts of liquor which was being sold freely by the ‘Union’ from their ‘Official Vendors’. Dispensing beer freely from their large pack packs right at your seat. Some patrons were heavy drinkers and if you wished you could easily measure their consumption by counting the number of empties rolling around their feet. In spite of this heavy consumption they were still a good natured mob, Most of their displeasure was being directed in a very vocal fashion towards the referee. This of course is what is referred to as ‘Atmosphere’.

About this time when the Union commenced work on the wing of the old remaining stand, at same time they instituted the controversial policy of ‘Bring a Child’ to Rugby. I can’t think of any place worse to bring a child except perhaps on a Aircraft where they proceed to kick the back of your seat for whole of the journey. They ran wild in the stadium, waved promotional swords in your face, hooted plastic trumpets. They had no interest in the game except for constant trips out for more chips and soft drinks. Further, when the Rugby Union actually commenced their building programme, they took away our allotted parking. We were then told we wouldn’t be getting it back either as it had now been transferred over to the patrons occupying the ‘Corporate Boxes’, which were to be included in the new stand. Another gripe was when the Test came around, our three permanent seats were taken from us to be sold to the ‘English visitors’. To keep us happy we were then given three of the worst seats in the house all located in the top corner of the base line. Later, when they found they couldn’t sell our seats I received a telephone call to say with the greeting. Hello. ‘We have ‘Good news for you’, we can now have our seats back for the small sum of $600. I replied, ‘I have bad news for you’. I have spent the money on a couple of top line ‘Cortex Jackets’ for Laura and myself, further, we would now be watching this particular match in the comfort of our home.

As well as our family, many more must have also voted with their feet as the latest news letter said the new price was only $3-65 a seat per week, which is dramatically cheaper than it has ever been. Maybe the new large flat screen TV’s are playing their part

On the credit side they have been wonderfully helpful to wheel chair patrons. They have ripped out rows of seats to make room for these people. I was fascinated by watching one fellow who controlled his chair and its movements by only blowing into a pipe in his mouth. He was dropped off at the gate by the handicapped taxi, and he did the rest without assistance. Some people don’t regard a wheelchair as a handicap.

The union does have a current problem with attendances to its events. Patrons could be upset by all of what I have mentioned in the about list of personal gripes. Or perhaps it’s their policy of grabbing all the ‘Star’ players for he ‘All Blacks’. Taking our good players is one thing, but parking them on extended rests is another while they decide whether to give them an outing or not. We loyally trek along week after week to watch other teams play our depleted team, then take home all the Silver. We may be one eyed, but every one likes to be a winner.

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