Stephen Day, Tuesday 03 July 2012
Bright sunshine and a welcome breeze greeted us on our arrival at The Stoop, the home of London’s only Super League club, London Broncos.
On arrival, the first people we met were James, from Brisbane, and Lucy, his girlfriend, from Essex. James has been in England just three weeks, and is over here on a two year working visa. He is a Brisbane Broncos fan, one of Australia’s leading Rugby League clubs. Lucy had decided to treat James to a trip to today’s match, as James was interested to see how the ‘London brand’ of his team would fare against today’s opponents, Leeds Rhinos.
London Broncos currently lie second from bottom in the Super league table, so a win today would be very welcome.
It’s a very relaxed atmosphere at The Stoop, infact we have found this at any Rugby League match that we have attended over many years( back to 1980 for Steve & 1996 for Sally!). Supporters of both teams mingle together comfortably, and exchange thoughts about today’s match, whilst others enjoy a drink within close proximity of the pitch. The seating arrangements are also very relaxed- you can sit anywhere except the press box and hospitality boxes, on a first come, first served basis!
The time is now 2.30pm, and both teams and the referee and touch judges take to the field for their pre-match warm-up.
As the crowd make their way to their seats ready for the 3pm kick off, it’s great to see lots of families in evidence, and people of all ages in the crowd.
Just before the teams enter the field, the crowd are entertained by The Cowgirls dancing group, along with the Broncos mascots, Buck & Dusty, two of Super league’s longest serving mascots, and they then welcome the two teams onto the field. There is a healthy contingent of Leeds Rhinos supporters present, mostly behind one goal, but also mixed with the home supporters in the East & West Stands.
So the match begins, and surprisingly there are no tries scored until London opened the scoring after 21 minutes, courtesy of Chris Bailey’s try, and Michael Witt’s conversion – 6-0 to the Broncos! Sadly, the lead doesn’t last long, and by half time Leeds Rhinos storm into a 24-6 lead, including two tries from Danny McGuire.
At half time, it’s now the turn of the Children’s Rugby League teams to entertain the crowd, along with some young performers from the English National Ballet. This is an excellent move by the Bronco’s to allow the children to use the pitch at half time- who knows, there could be some London Bronco’s stars of the future out there!
Away from this, the hog roast, burger stand and ice cream van are doing brisk business on this warm, sunny afternoon.
Then the second half starts, and early Broncos pressure results in a try for Kieran Dixon- it’s now 24-12 to Leeds. Mascots Buck & Dusty are again popular with the children, and are having their pictures taken with many of their new fans amongst the children. However, London fail to cut Leeds advantage further, and Leeds take control in the last 20 minutes, scoring a further six tries, including two more for Danny McGuire, and their strong finish sees them end up comfortable winners by a 58-12 scoreline.
Although obviously disappointed, the home fans still applaud both teams off the field, whilst the Leeds fans show much vocal appreciation of their teams effort & victory.
As we leave our seats, today’s experience has left us with a familiar feeling- Super League is excellent value- ticket prices range from only £15 for adults, £10 for OAP’S & Students, and only £5 for Under 16’s, which for top-level sport compares very favourably with other sports ticket prices. For regular fans, London Broncos also offer a four game package for adults for only £30- with four home games left this season, this represents excellent value.
If you want to enjoy this experience, the league leaders, Wigan Warriors are the next visitors to The Stoop, on Saturday 21st July, kick off 3pm. As fans who have enjoyed the matchday experience that Super League offers for many years, along with friends and family of various ages, we thoroughly recommend a visit to The Stoop.
Stephen Day is a longstanding rugby fan and Ad Executive at T&L