Sunday, 27 November 2016

Perks of the Condition

After the Stand Up To Cancer Gogglebox appearance I mentioned in my last blog I was fortunate enough to be contacted by Channel 4 on behalf of the England Footballers Charity, and the players that had taken part in the show, with an invite for me to go to Wembley and watch a game. Although I've represented Wales throughout my judo career, I was born in London and have followed the England team since I was a child, so I jumped at the chance to watch them play at such an iconic venue.

The day of the game against Spain arrived and my father and I set off for London, where I was to meet up with one of my uni mates who was going to be joining me for the game, as two tickets had been provided and my father has less than no interest in watching a game of football. He had instead prepared for the wait by bringing along a book to sit with in the car while I went into the stadium.

On arrival I met up with my mate and made my way into the main reception behind the Bobby Moore statue (shown below, he had used the time waiting for me to get a cracking picture of said statue) where the tickets were being held awaiting our arrival. As I gave my name and the receptionist started to flick through a pile of envelopes for my tickets my contact from the FA Charity appeared and informed me that along with the tickets for the game we had been allocated two wristbands that would allow post-game access to the Atrium bar, where the players and their families would congregate after the match was over. As I thanked him for this he asked what my father was going to do for the couple of hours while I was at the stadium. Upon hearing that he was sat in the carpark reading a book he kindly went in search of a third ticket for the game and the bar so that he would be able to sit in the warmth of the stadium instead of wrapped up in the car.

Bobby Robson, Overlooking Wembley Stadium Entrance

With a message sent to inform my dad of this development, my friend and I headed to the entrance of the stands in search of our seats. We were pleasantly surprised to see that we had been placed just in front of the media, not far from the half way line, with an outstanding view of the entire pitch.

Spain being the opponents I was prepared for a bit of a demolition by the visitors, and so was pleasantly surprised when Vardy was brought down in the penalty area in the 8th minute and Lallana slotted the resulting penalty home to send England into an early lead. The crowd erupted and I was glad I had chosen this point to start broadcasting my evening on snapchat. The 80 plus minutes that followed would contain an enjoyable, if frustrating, game of football that left me very glad that I had accepted the offer and made the journey across to London that day. Even if they did let the lead slip and end up with a 2-2 draw.

On the journey to London I had discovered that my tumour twin was coincidentally on the way to the game from Birmingham with her boyfriend, so as the stadium emptied we agreed to meet by the Bobby Moore statue to say hi and have a quick catch up before they headed home and we headed into the Atrium bar to wait for the traffic to calm down.

Half hour later I was sat in the Atrium bar with my dad and my mate, looking around the room and deciding which section of the free buffet I would attack first when the contact from the charity reappeared and asked if we wanted to meet the players. An obvious one word answer later we were headed across the room and back to a section where some of the players were sat, making the most of their Carlsberg sponsorship.

We had some photos taken (see below) and chatted about the game as well as Stand Up To Cancer and the impact it had had on them and the public, making me feel so glad once again that I had been a part of the campaign and been able to reach such an audience with the SU2C message.

It's fairly obvious why I entitled this post "Perks of the Condition", cancer has changed my life in a multitude of negative ways, but at the same time I've been able to experience things that I never would have without it, and in most cases I've been able to take friends and family along with me for the ride. This evening is just the latest example, and hopefully next year I'll be able to write about something even bigger and better, but I won't talk about that too much just yet. I don't want to risk putting a jinx on it when things have been progressing so positively of late.



    "cancer has changed my life in a multitude of negative ways, but at the same time I've been able to experience things that I never would have without it, and in most cases I've been able to take friends and family along with me for the ride."

    Your outlook is an inspiration.

  2. Wow... i am surprised that how you managed to convince them to come in the event. But it really would be a good thing.


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