There was a slideshow running on loop at the end of year dinner which told the story of the 2011 season. It was brought together by Sylvia and the 300 odd photos were broken up into all the different tournaments and events. When I watched it, I was somewhat taken aback by the number of different of places and activities which it included. There were trainings, tournaments, fundraisers, random drinking sessions/parties and even some holiday photos.
What struck me most was the expressions on everyone's faces. Most showed people smiling or lauging. Some were not so joyful but even those had a sense of togetherness as everyone appeared to suffer together, be it in defeat or hangover!
It reconfirms to me a point we made at the end of the season. Whilst the season was not a success in terms of winning the hurling or football championship, we pointed to the number of times we were in each other’s company - whether it be training, tournaments or socialising - and told the lads that they should remember how often they left those events feeling good about their involvement in the club.
Those good times and events are not confined to the season either. Most of my holidays and weekends away have been with people from the club. Aside from G.A.A. events, I travelled to Rome, Greece, Slovenia and Toulouse with teammates this year. The latest trip brought us to London and also highlighted another positive; we rarely lose touch, even with former players.
Myself, Tim, Colin, Crusher, Ger and Giller hopped on the Eurostar and headed for the UK to meet up with Ollie, Rochey and Micheal O'Flynn last weekend. Planning such an event is never difficult. Lads are always eager to catch up and fall straight back into enjoying the craic. It's nearly four years since Micheal was here and even then, he only stayed three months but he always makes the effort to link up with us. This weekend was no different.
We covered a ferocious amount of ground over three nights. A 'few quiet' ones in Clapham on Thursday were followed up with a bit of a hell-raiser on Friday night in Stockwell's finest nightclub, The Swan. It was Camden on Saturday afternoon and then out to Shepards Bust to see The Saw Doctors. A falafel later and we were heading east towards Hackney to join Rochey's girlfriend at a house party. We'd settle in The Dolphin until the early hours of Sunday morning.
There is no need to elaborate further on what happened between stepping on and off the Eurostar, except to point you in the direct of 'The Hangover' movie. Think a third edition, based in London. Unfortunately, I was the one returning missing half a front tooth on this occasion. Whether further details of the weekend 'are of public interest or in the public's interest to know' (Oliver O'Callaghan, 2011) is debatable but for now they are neither. As we crossed London Bridge at 5am on Sunday, Collie B lifted his head for the last time and declared that 'it was a pleasure to drink with ye lads....even you Giller'. That pretty much sums it up.
Someone said to me last night that the club was a bit flat this year. Indeed we are at a certain point of the cycle. The club has grown and there are pockets of different people but that is only natural. The important thing is that the club keeps bringing people in and that they can feel the bond that is there. That is our biggest strength, once you are in and you feel that, it is very hard to leave. It's why lads come back for end of year dinners and why we make the effort to visit them wherever they move on to.
Long may it continue (all be it with a few weeks break!)