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This month I have been thinking and travelling. Multi-tasking! In fact I write this from Berlin in Germany.
Thinking about the All Blacks… the first part of my three week trip involved taking in the All Blacks opening World Cup match against Argentina which was played at Wembley in London. My wife Michelle and I were at Cardiff for the quarter-final loss in 2007. That match was going to be the "start of the best few weeks of our lives” – or so I foolishly told my wife and our friends we were travelling with eight years ago. So for 2015 we decided against taking the chance of the same thing happening again and made the decision that our RWC2015 experience would be limited to the first game. It wasn’t just the gamble involved in the business end of the tournament that led to our decision – the price of tickets also played a big part!
So the weekend just gone was spent in central London, staying in the heart of Piccadilly, near Green Park, with a trip on the underground out to Wembley to watch the gripping match with close to 90,000 others. London really laid it on for us. Great weather and after a nervous 60 minutes the All Blacks came through with a satisfying but tough win. The RWC demons of 2007 extinguished!
I love the All Blacks. How lucky are we as a country to have a national sporting team we can follow and get so much enjoyment out of? Thousands do. At the same time this iconic entity (or brand as marketers would say) creates such positive international recognition for our country. It’s not until you truly see them on this international stage that you fully understand what they mean to our country. The AB’s and NZ Rugby just happens to be at the top of their game in more ways than one at the moment. Totally professional, humble and gaining us more respect as a country than ever before.
Thinking about big Stadiums… the Wembley experience was interesting. Getting to the ground on the Underground was slow but fairly painless. The trains were packed as you would expect, standing room only for us, but we got there. Once arriving at Wembley Park Station getting into the massive 90,000 capacity stadium was slow but orderly. The Argies were much noisier than our supporters and surprisingly out-numbered those dressed in black.
The rest of our Wembley Stadium experience was not great. We were on the top tier and the queues to get a beer or go for a pee were diabolical. I did manage to have the pee, but didn’t have the time to stay in the massive lines to get the beer which risked missing a great deal of the match that we had come a long way to see. The view from our seats was good and that is probably the case for every seat in the magnificent stadium – a positive.
But getting out of the stadium was another story. A shambles. We decided to wait 30 minutes for the crowd to disperse, so stayed at our seats and took in the after match atmosphere etc. When we finally exited the stadium, the backlog of people looking to catch the trains from the one station was huge. The whole of the one kilometre or so stretch was jam packed.Those in the know estimated around 1.5 to 2 hours before we would get near a train. They were right.
Thinking about the challenges of travelling when you can’t read the signs… After the weekend in London we flew to Berlin, a city we have never experienced before. We did a guided walking tour and it was fascinating learning the history and seeing the landmarks. It’s scary to think that the Berlin Wall only came down around 26 years ago and the people were treated so poorly. It’s a city still rebuilding after reunification, with construction everywhere. Next stop on the history part of this trip is the concentration camps of Poland. Then on to Austria and Spain.
Thinking about the Silver Fern… This trip and the impact of the All Blacks in the UK only reinforced to me the logic about changing our flag to include the Silver Fern. Makes so much sense to really reinforce our identity on the world stage. Don’t let critical so-called design ‘experts’ totally influence your upcoming decision. Design is only one part of the equation, giving us a stronger international identity is number one for me. The Silver Fern does that, others such as the existing flag and peaks etc. do not.
Have a great October.
Channel Magazine: Issuu 59 October 2015