As a torrential downpour and incredibly strong cross winds descended on Murrayfield just before kick-off at the Scotland versus England 6 nations match, I began to ponder how lucky being offered the opportunity to purchase tickets for this Calcutta Cup clash really was. I was given the option to buy Six Nations tickets after attending the Edinburgh home match against Munster, so was happy supporters of the local team were rewarded for their support. Scotland versus England proved a dire stop-start affair, with Scotland finishing up 15-9 winners after kicking two more successful penalties than a very poor England. Not a try in sight.
The build up to the match was more impressive than the game itself. After seeing a crowd outside The Balmoral hotel on Princes St we waited alongside a heavy police presence to see the England players board their Murrayfield bound bus. We then walked to Murrayfield stadium through the West End and Haymarket terrace, stopping at The Dunstane House Hotel for a quick drink. A bottled lager cost ¬£3 and was available from a portable fridge outside, which was quicker service than standing in the packed indoor bar. The Lodge Hotel, on West Coates like The Dunstane, had large beer tents erected outside. All were absolutely packed. The atmosphere was great with English and Scottish fans making the most of pre-game conditions, which were windy but thankfully not wet.
There were no queues at the turnstiles and once inside Murrayfield I weaved toward the large bar. The beer was stockpiled and serving it should have been an efficient operation i.e. I cross the server’s palm with silver and am given a pre-poured pint, complete with lid. However the bar staff on the whole weren’t the quickest, so it still took some 20 minutes pre-game and just over 10 minutes at half time to get served.
The bar prices were Tennents lager or Belhaven Best at ¬£3.50 per pint. Coca Cola, diet Coke and still water at ¬£2.00 a bottle. Glasses of wine were ¬£4.50 from a choice of Chardonnay, Chiraz and Rose. Advertising for The Famous Grouse whisky is prevalent throughout Murrayfield on Six Nations matchdays and this was, for ¬£4, served with Ginger Ale and lime wedge. In fairness the Tennents lager I had was filled right up to the top, wasn’t flat and was very chilled (infact I needed my gloves to hold it!).
A massive crowd was stood in the puddle covered area just outside Murrayfield stadium watching the Ireland versus Wales 6 nations match on a large television. It was an impressive sight to see so many people stood up and glued to the TV screen, joined by the hoardes of supporters watching from the landings of the stairwells to Murrayfield’s summit. The frustrating aspect, as always, was the queuing. At half-time the gents toilet queue was approximately 5 minutes while the women’s was double or triple that. Also the area infront of the long bar had not coped with the first half torrential downpour: some parts of the bar were only accessible by paddling through the mini ponds which had formed.
Our ticket, in section 7 of Murrayfield’s North Stand, cost ¬£45. Section 7 is the lower tier and our seats were centre of the goal. As the only points in the match were penalties we were given the best possible perspective for the success and failure of the kicks. The roof and fortuitous wind direction meant we never felt the full wrath of the storm which enveloped Murrayfield; although it was frustrating when big splashes of rain continued to fall into my pint, from the porous roof.
The highlight of the pre-match entertainment was the pipe band, composed of various police bands (video to follow). The Scottish National Anthem, Flower of Scotland, was given a rousing rendition. And just before the game began a couple of fighter jets flew very low and very loudly over the stadium. After this it was a game which could only have made Scottish supporters happy by the result and not by the dreadful rugby we had to endure to get there.
From the North Stand we didn’t get a good view of the Scotland team lifting the Calcutta Cup. We did see the few fireworks from the roof of the South Stand, although the wind distorted their effect somewhat. And on leaving the stadium the atmosphere was fairly subdued, although it was easy to find humour in the cars which had to wait because the road into Edinburgh’s West End had been monopolised by fans making their way home. We finished the day with a few beers in the very busy Ryan’s bar, where all the songs you’d expect were being played at loud volume.
There are further photographs from the Six Nations clash between Scotland and England. A couple of videos will be added in due course.