The Swalec stadium in Cardiff came alive at the weekend as four county cricket teams battled it out on finals day of the Twenty 20 cricket tournament. On the pitch Hampshire was crowned 2012 champions, but for many the real entertainment was to be found in the stands where blow up balls were thrown around the crowd and spectators set off balloons in synchronised batches.
For 10 hours ‘supporters’ traipsed backwards and forwards to the bars to stock up on cider and beer. By the end of the proceedings there were some fairly inbrebiated soles chanting a whole manner of songs. Yet rather than cheering when a batsman was bowled out, people seemed more interested in building huge snaking towers out of tower of plastic glasses or getting a Mexican wave going.
The organisers had done their bit in creating the fantastic carnival atmosphere, playing music and having dancers pop up on mini stages between overs. Between games there were comedy races featuring the numerous club mascots and bands performed on the pitch.
In truth, many (like us) went because they wanted a fun day out with friends, rather than purely wanting to see cricket teams battling it out against each other (although that did add to the fun). For the numerous stag parties (like us), where large groups of men were dressed as everything from prison inmates to the Teletubbies, the tournament provided a perfect warm-up before hitting Cardiff’s night spots.
This idea of going to an event with friends and ‘making a day of it’ is not new. In fact there are intersting historical parallels with people who went to watch plays at the great outdoor Elizabethan playhouses or saw bull and bear bating on London’s South Bank some 500 years ago.
Back then they would get up early, buy fast food from an array of outlets and promptly get very drunk. The entertainment on the main stage or arena seemed in may cases to be side line, given all the talking, swearing, spitting and fidgeting (the poet John Taylor even said some played cards) that we hear about in contemporary accounts. From archeological remains unearthed recently we also know they made an awful mess – places like the Rose theatre in Borough were found littered with traces of the cracked nuts and oysters they enjoyed during performances for example.
The spectators who went to bull and bear bating arenas were said to have ‘constantly’ smoked tobacco, while seasonal fruits such as apples, pears and nuts, along with wine and ale were sold.
Going to the theatre 500 years ago was indeed said to be like going to a noisy sports match or rock concert today, so you can see how these historical parallels kick in. The truth is that as human beings we’ve always enjoyed having a good time and that remains the case today, whether it’s at the Swalec stadium in Cardiff or at a football ground watching a team on a Saturday afternoon. We go as a group and have a good day out.