Day 1: Thursday 17th July 2014
Well, we’re off and bang on time at 11am! BBC were due to film our departure from the Cat & Fiddle but sensationally pulled out at the last minute. So we set up the Exeter College and Exeter University pop up banners and the players posed in front of the Redwoods coach for a couple of photos for posterity and then we departed to a cheery wave from mum (Mrs G!)
On the subject of those pop ups, I think we’ll be putting them up and down this day in, day out over the next 11 days. Currently it’s a two-man job but I reckon it should be down to one man and Formula One pit crew time!
The boys pose for posterity in front of the bus at the Cat & Fiddle
Fair play to Donna already for a spot of top admin. She had been hard at work for an hour before we left. We received the ticket details overnight and so the online check-in needed to be done before we hopped onto the coach.
No-one claims to have left their passports behind and we’re half way up the M5 and Mel says he’s seen everyone’s bar mine. Knew it was there in my bag but, as I imagine many of us do, I did just check again.
David Wheeler and Ollie Watkins get pinging on the coach to Heathrow
The Ping City launch is in Exeter today and Taggy got out the mini ping-pong kits we are taking and Ollie Watkins and Dave Wheeler played a point or two on the coach courtesy table. Cue more photos and Taggy’s onto Twitter to support the cause! I believe Taggy’s Tweet count is at 3 but he may already have slipped a few in when I wasn’t looking. He’s as prolific as Kirky is on his various phone apps.
11.55am and typically I’m hungry. Barely make it to 12 noon before I need my lunch so may as well tuck in. Will save the cheese and marmite for emergency rations later. I reckon Butters just asked for a pee break. Well he is getting on a bit! Plus we’ve a bog on board.
Bristol area pick-ups now so Jess, Colesy, Tilly and Tis will join the show. Will Tis be in City travelling kit (Taggy’s bet) or slacks and a jacket (Gilly’s bet)? Suggest not formal enough occasion for a cravat.
Only ones missing are Baldy and Oakers. Reckon Oakers will be chauffeur-driven right to the check-in desk at Heathrow.
Just seen a note from Raddy about the team colours for the Swansea friendly at the Park on 29 July, conveniently the day after we return! Apparently their keeper will wear vivid blue kit with a berry piping. Sounds purple to me but I’m not up to date with what colours are in this year.
By the way, Taggy wins the bet. Frankly I’m disappointed in Tis. Thought more of the man! Personally think I’m the best dressed man on tour in these early stages – smart jeans, shirt, nice casual jacket. Quite happy with my look although I would like to reiterate that I’m unsure of this year’s colours.
So what are initial thoughts? What to expect? Difficult really. A bit unknown, perhaps like the original Grecian travellers 100 years ago. We aren’t that familiar with Brazilian society really in Britain. We see the football and the images of Copacabana but we don’t know too much more than that. It’s a huge country, one of the biggest in the world, both in area and population, but for some reason I don’t really think we are familiar with South America as a whole.
Having been around when the Brazilian Masters came over to Exeter in 2004 to help us celebrate our centenary and dealt with Brazilians on and off ever since, I know that we’ll be extremely well received and looked after. I think we’ll be surprised at how much they know about us, and I mean Exeter City not Britain. We have had snippets of what’s in the museum for example but with their fervour for all things football, they are already interested in us and it will heighten on Sunday when we play the ceremonial match.
The World Cup has, in all honesty, been at the forefront of their minds and the luck (good or bad) is that the centenary (actually on 21st July) comes just after it. If Brazil had won, what an atmosphere to join. Sadly they didn’t and the manner of their ultimate exit has hit them a bit hard. Hopefully, a wonderful historic occasion such as this will lift the spirits.
Surprise moment of the day so far. Tis has launched into a discussion with Jess about bracelets. Or is it a surprise? Now talking shoes with Taggy and wants to show him something online (fortunately for Taggy unavailable at the moment).
By the way, I doubt if I’ll be able to keep adding lengthy notes like this throughout the trip. However, whilst we’re travelling, there is ample scope for tapping away so I’ll take the opportunities when I can. Hopefully, our family, friends and sweethearts left far behind in Britain (credit courtesy of the play ‘The Day they player Brazil’) will enjoy an update or two in between the cocktails on Copacabana (no, sorry, this is a working trip, none of that will happen – seriously – well may be one won’t harm, or two, we’ll see anyway). Wonder if I’ll meet Lola (she was a showgirl, Barry Manilow told me), who I periodically sing about at karaoke? Or the girl from Ipanema? Don’t know her name so not sure I’ll recognise her. Bruce certainly will. He probably discovered her way back like he professes he discovered Shakira in deepest, darkest Turkey. Caused no end of amusement in the office that one. Where did those royalties go – raki, the local drink.