A few days ago around Bordeaux I was cycling through what was very much wine country. At the moment I am riding through what is very much French rugby country. I am currently sitting in the café of the Toulouse rugby team called Café Ernest. Stade Toulousain play in the Stade Ernest Wallon for those of you who do not know. While I have been in Bordeaux a couple of times since the reason for this post today is because Laurie, my Mum, my Dad and I came here in 2008, and we watched Glasgow Warriors destroy Toulouse. I don’t think any of us quite believed it but we were all very pleased with the result.
The place names on this leg will all be familiar to people who watch European rugby, Toulouse, Agen, Bordeaux Begles, Béziers, Montpellier and Narbonne. Before I discovered I quite like riding my bike I used to play rugby (Sharkie, if you are reading this take note, I used to play rugby ;-)). Rugby was my first sporting love and it has given me a lot of great friends, memories and experiences for which I will always be grateful. As well as playing, Laurie, Mum, Dad and I have been going to Glasgow Warriors games for a long time.
Before Glasgow grew in to the team they are today, they used play at Hughenden. I am not sure whether Laurie was interested in the rugby back in those days, but she was interested in getting Jelly Babies from Gerry Haggerty the long time team doctor for the Warriors. Eventually Laurie started taking Jelly Babies herself and giving them to Gerry for the players, but only if they won. If they didn’t win then no Jelly Babies and Laurie possibly had her ‘Queen Victoria’ po face on too – she reserved this for when was unimpressed with something.
Since Hughenden you can probably count the number of games we have missed on the fingers of two hands. Over the years the Warriors have been very helpful and supportive of Laurie. When the Warriors moved to Firhill all the fans were on one side of the pitch but the dug out was on the other side. Mum and Dad weren’t sure whether Laurie would go to the games if she was away from Gerry, and in amongst the crowd. The Warriors understood the problem and found a solution. We were able to stand behind the dug out, just like at Hughenden, on the opposite side of the pitch to most of the fans. Laurie was able to see Gerry. This is an example where the Warriors did something for someone on the autism spectrum. They helped to manage a change that could have been difficult and might have resulted in Laurie not going to the games.
When the Warriors moved to Scotstoun we moved with them. Again, the guys at the Warriors were great. We were able to stand so that Laurie was not in the crowd. Different people at the club looked after Laurie and provided help over the years. Gerry, Dougie, Karen, Dave, James, Nicola, Brian and Sam all went out of their way to look out for Laurie. She also had her favourites amongst the players, Parksy, James Eddie, and Tim Swinson. Apparently Niko is cheeky but I think we all know that!
I possibly didn’t see Laurie as much as I should have done over the years. Most of the occasions I saw Laurie was at Warriors games. I always expected to have more a role years in to the future and expected to take her, Mum and Dad to games when they got too old to pick Laurie up themselves. This won’t happen now, however, just as I was always appreciate what rugby has given my, I will also always appreciate what rugby and Glasgow Warriors in particular did for her. I don’t know, but I suspect other than when there was music on that Laurie enjoyed she probably wasn’t happier than when Glasgow were doing well!
Thanks for reading,