Panic buying on the 19.25
February 4, 2013
Ireland meets Wales - rugby perfectly captured © PA Photos
For many the memories of Saturday's match in Cardiff will revolve around Simon Zebo's amazing piece of individual trickery, Brian O'Driscoll's heroics and Wales' valiant second-half fight back. But there are those for whom the camaraderie between the two sets of fans and the incredible scenes on the 19.25 from Cardiff to Paddington will be just as unforgettable.
The omens were not good for the rest of the day when I encountered two Welsh fans in Earls Court tube station at a time when most sensible people on a Saturday would be in bed. I chose to travel via train to Cardiff, these two opted for similar transportation. But unlike me, they were enjoying their cans of a well known Wales-based ale on the platform. It was 07.47.
The aftermath of the Test brought together the rivals with Wales and Ireland fans both praising each other's team and predicting the latest British & Irish Lions XV for the summer. "I'd just go for the Ireland front-row, Brian O'Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald etc..." rang out one Dublin-accented voice. "You have got to be kidding me - build it around Adam Jones..." was the quick retort.
Eventually all good things come to an end and with the relatively early start of 13.30 for the first match of the Six Nations, it was inevitable that after opting to start drinking pre-match, a fair number would run out of steam as the clock ticked on into the night.
Fast-forward to my journey back from the Welsh capital and I encountered a scene of absolute carnage on the train. Fans sprawled in the aisles as the train chugged on fit to burst. The songs rang out with 'Fields of Athenry' boomed out at least 15 times in my carriage between Cardiff and Newport. And when we reached the Gwent station, I ventured to the bar to see what was on offer.
A queue of 20 or so people greeted me seemingly convinced the Mayan apocalypse prophecy was about to come true, albeit a few weeks on. People were panic buying the whole of the bar's beleaguered supplies. A gentleman a fair few in front opted to purchase 24 cans of a Danish beer. If 'they', as their advertising slogan boasts, did trains then there would have been more cans in the fridge. When faced with this scene of adversity the poor lady behind the till stayed true to her customer service brief and packaged two apiece into the brown paper bags - her lack of English meant she resorted to writing the details of what they had left on napkins.
And so the panic buying continued. Henry Walker's potato based snacks were being purchased in vast quantities while one fellow opted to clean out the bar of their red wine supplies in one fair swoop. The inflated pricing meant that he could have bought most of a vineyard with his eventual total but he seemed content.
And on it went; each individual trying to outdo the one in front. By this time, the faint memory of when they had Guinness in the fridge had long gone. A Welsh ale was the next to be emptied and eventually it came to me; we were reaching Bristol Parkway by this point - we had been through two countries in the time I stood at the bar. It is hard to choose your poison when faced with a bar full of different labelled taps, but it was fairly easy when there is a fridge consisting of one brand of ale and one of cider.
So I gathered up my three cans - one for the fellow journalist I was travelling with - in my two paper bags and returned to my seat, dodging the spread-eagled bodies and mini black markets breaking out in Coach E, with cans being exchanged for vastly inflated prices. I have to confess though; it was hard to juggle the three cans with the 17 packs of cashews I felt compelled to purchase.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.