By Paddy Green
Back when the rugby union game went professional, I looked at which sides were local to me (based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, at the time) and it was a toss-up between Northampton and London Irish as they were equidistant from where I lived.
I went to Northampton and sat in a packed stadium and enjoyed the game but was not spoken to by anyone. The following week I went to London Irish at Madejski, and sat in a fairly empty stadium, and the three guys two rows ahead of me welcomed me and gave me a Guinness and insisted I joined them! I was hooked and knew I was home. I left having bought a season ticket and my MG Rovers replica shirt!
My enthusiasm for the club grew, and I started going to all the home and away games and, after talking to supporters on the fans’ forum, we started to meet at away games, seeing the same familiar faces, culminating in the away game at Newcastle. We had all arranged to meet at a certain hotel, and it was only after an evening together we realised we were all individuals that thought that everyone else knew each other!
From there we realised there was a need for a supporters’ club and set one up ourselves and arranged the membership cards, pin badges and stickers, as part of the annual membership. This all happened just after our memorable day at HQ when we won the Powergen Cup 38-7 against Northampton. I could have had membership number one or two but chose 387 based on our Cup victory score!
I have been an active member and supporter (forum name paddyg) from the conception of the club and, in 2003, at the age of six weeks brought my twin boys to their first match at the Madejski, and on 26th March this year they will be 18!
My favourite memory of our away travels was at the pre-season match against Leinster at Donnybrook in 2002, where we arrived at the ground, went into the bar and, when one of the local stalwarts insisted I got served ahead of everyone else (and being the kitty holder), was shocked to his core when I ordered 52 pints of Guinness and a diet Coke!
This gives you an idea of where the supporters’ club came from and how it started, and I am proud of being a small part of it!
Thank you for supporting the best rugby club in the Premiership and for being a member of the first premiership rugby club’s supporters’ club!
I am humbled by the huge number of members!
Patrick (Paddy) Green