December 2006 came round rather quickly and suddenly the South of England Northern Ireland Supporters Club were a year old, and as with a tradition that began a year earlier, we were off to Weymouth again, for what will forever be known as our WAGM (Weymouth Annual Green Meeting). The date was set as the second Saturday in December, as with the 2005 inaugural meeting. There would only be three survivors from that first meeting, but some new faces and a club a year older. I was living in the outer reaches of Dartford, Kent at the time. I got up early that Saturday morning for a walk then a train (from Belvedere or Slade Green, I don’t recall which) then a tube then another train, which actually took me straight from London Waterloo to Weymouth, where it all began.
The build up had been pretty immense to this meeting. I was chairman of the club for the first year and we couldn’t believe how well the club had done, taking over the Isle of Wight, an away trip to Denmark, meeting Maik Taylor, Damien Johnson and Sammy Clingan and getting some newspaper coverage. The Dorset Echo had kindly published a pre-WAGM article for us, I had spoke to journalist Ben Glass over the phone. We anticipated a cracking day out. On the train as we got to Basingstoke and Southampton there would be a few more of us. Richboy (Richard Ingram) brought a white cake, with some green colouring, so we dyed it and made our own SOENISC birthday cake on the train with a few tins of beer. The cake actually looked perfect if you check out the photos of it. Richboy assumed the nickname of “Ainsley” for the day, though we did consider whether Paul Rankin (Northern Ireland’s celebrity chef) was just as famous. As we neared Weymouth, my mate Mike and his girlfriend suddenly appeared. I forgot I had invited them to the WAGM! We weren’t going to be low in numbers that was for sure. On exiting the train looking as green as possible, we made our way, as we had done a year earlier down traditional English seaside town streets to the pub – Finns!! We had chosen Finns as the meeting place the year before because Finn McCoul was a famous Northern Irish giant. And we aimed to be a giant for Northern Ireland in the South of England. So we stumbled into Finns bar…
In Finns I introduced myself to the lovely bar staff. As ever they were most accomodating and our flegs went up on the wall as we got together for the meeting. This is where I first met El, a Larne man based in Weymouth who had by chance caught our article in the paper! Even though I hadn’t seen the article myself at the time, it proves that PR is a smart man’s advertising. We waited in Finns bar until everyone had arrived, this included Squid, Scatt, Graham Anderson and Tim Acheson. We had a total of 11 at the meeting, which almost doubled on the previous year’s WAGM total of just 6, the inaugural of the South of England NISC. That was pleasing, as was being voted chairman again for the next year, despite having 4 votes against and 6 votes for. To the four who voted against me (including Tim Beattie) I’m just wondering what their alternative was. I, for one, would have walked out of the club that day had I not been re-elected. Totally true!
Also discussed during the meeting was that we were going to Oxford and Weston Super Mare for the next two meetings, but the dates needed confirmed. Graham Anderson was elected Vice Chairman and Richard Ingram as Vice Secretary. Nothing else changed within the club ranks. Even the absent secretary Owen Millar maintained his position. By the end of the meeting we were slicing the cake, ordering more beers and pondering a move to the next bar. Before all that, I decided to go to The Dorothy Inn to book in for the night, as did a few others. I was pretty unargumentative at the time and let Graham Anderson sort out the bargaining for the cheap room. Once that was all sorted we continued to the traditional Black Dog pub on one of Weymouth’s cobbled pedestrian streets where some dinner and pintage was had. We watched the football results in there and also grabbed a local guy called Pete and made him an honorary Ulsterman for the day. A purple shirted Belfast man also came over “I member youse from last year!” he said and sure enough it was the same man. We had met this Belfast man in the same pub on the same day of the previous year. It was all good craic, and the singing started up again in there.
We had to leave as darkness was falling in order to get some photos on the beach and enjoy a kickabout. Squid brought his “Wellington, Somerset” fleg with him and we put the flegs up while a blackened Dorset faded a calmed SOENISC out of the sort of spot light that Michael Stipe relied on when pinning 1991 classic “Losing My Religion” (that folks, was a hit for REM). I was tired, but rejuvenated by the bouyancy of Scatt Gordon. Around this time, El and Tim Beattie also disappeared for the night and it was actually a very sombre if not sober time. The SOENISC had calmed down completely. The madness of Weymouth 2005 seemed a distant memory. However Scatt found us a way into the Duke of Edinburgh pub where I chatted up a 60 year old lady. I asked her politely if I could view her naked breasts, and as legend will have it…whilst sipping nonchalantly on a pint of lager, two massive boobs raised their way beyond a wooly jumper and right into my eyes. As Graham professed “ye weren’t expectin that were ye?” Certainly nat, they were dangly ones, which in their day would have provided most of Britian’s male residents with a boner. Just for now, my willy remained in the due south position. She was a bit old for me, and in honesty the shock of seeing them, which must have also been viewed by all other people in the bar was enough to make me liven up again for the night!
I’m a big fan of breasts, and ladies that show me theirs will always earn much more respect from me. THe worst thing that can happen is I tag them on popular website ‘Facebook.com.’ I remarked to this old lady how eloquent she had been in her art, while the landlady of the Duke of Edinburgh actually told us to remove our club fleg. At this point it was time to move on, and Scatt again sourced us the Baracuda Bar (formerly The Old Rectory, where we had been in the previous year) which let us all in in our Northern Ireland shirts. What was more was there were swarms of young ladies in there. We were just a football supporters club, we got more than we bargained for I think, newspaper headlines, free views of breasts in local bars and now hen parties staggering over to get their photographs took “just because you have a green wig on and look like fun.” We put our club fleg hanging over the balcony in there and Squid had brought some table mats for the table, which had the IFA badge on them, these were on our seats the previous year at the England away match in Old Trafford. We settled into the club and danced to many and various tunes, by now there were only about 7 of us…
In there I met Vicky and Amy, two locals girls and I did flirt outrageously with them, posing for photos and dancing stupidly. But again we wanted to head on somewhere else and I remember Richboy, Squid and I saying – lets have a quiet wee pint in Wetherspoons, which we did. I don’t remember who else was there in Wetherspoons, but we got past the bouncers with no hassle despite our green attire. We stood out from the crowd and attracted attention. In Wetherspoons there was still kitty money and I’m sure Mike and his girlfriend went back to the hotel at this point, leaving just 4 (?) of us out. I enjoyed a quiet bitter in there before following Scatt into the queue for the “Rendezvous” nightclub. In there I do have some stories to tell and I did manage to pull a young lady, however in the haziness of life and the movement of time being a constant enemy, I’m unwilling to reveal the details here. It’s a bit long winded and a strange time in my life when things didn’t happen for any reason. Either way I was knackered and feeling ill by 3 am when the club closed and Richboy would have found me fast asleep in the hotel room that very morning needing water, and he spared me some oranges to keep my fibre levels up. The second SOE NISC WAGM was over, it wasn’t as good as the first one the year before, and three of those faces (Owen Millar, Simon McCully, Alan “Rabster: The Bomber” Brown) were missing. Still, we were back and the SOE NISC could go into 2007 still smiling and still providing locals with sublime entertainment amidst naked breasts.
That morning I neglected breakfast and used to cold cold Weymouth sea air to chill my bones. I rested by the beach, walked along towards where the old big harbour provided me with a glimpse of the past: In 1989 I had been there, at the Sealink British Ferries terminal, where I caught the nightboat, the blue and white Earl Godwin to Cherbourg, on a family holiday. That memory came back, and later that day I would be meeting my Dad in London as he was over for a conference. I thought about my trip on the Earl Godwin quite a lot that day, and pictured myself as a quiet 9 year old sailing to France, thinking how totally bizarre that 17 years later I’d be at the same place somewhat bizarrely writing up an agenda for a meeting of people I had only met in the previous 12 months or so. Strange life this…
Then I dandered into a fancy dress shop by a corner. Originally I thought it to be a newsagents and I wanted a copy of the previous Thursday’s Dorset Echo, where the article on our supporters club (pictured here) appeared. However by chance in the fancy dress shop the lady working there said, “let me take your address, I have it in the house and I’ll post it to you.” Such a kind lady and true to her word she did, days later on arrival home from work, there was the entire Dorset Echo with our wee article in it. My visit to that fancy dress shop in Weymouth also produced a purchase from myself which would actually have an impact a few weeks later. I saw a “Frog Suit” for £18 it was green and yellow and looked nuts, so randomly I just bought it!! Then in Bite Communications (my then employer) a few weeks late we had a Christmas Fancy Dress day, and I dressed up in the frog suit for the entire day (including travel in to work and back) and suddenly had livened up the office a bit, a brought a more chaotic and true Jonny Scott Blair to my office job, where I often acted far too sensible in an attempt to fit in. There was no need anymore. I also bumped into Mike and his girlfriend in a £1 shop where we each bought a green Irish hat before getting a subway sandwich and leaving Weymouth behind for now. My train left Weymouth for Waterloo and I tried to doze before I would meet my Dad and then face another busy Monday morning scanning media coverage at Bite Communications.
Who went – Jonny Blair, Tim Beattie, Richard “Richboy” Ingram, Squid Armstrong, Scatt Gordon, Graham Anderson, Tim Acheson, Elwyn Craig, Mike and his girlfriend.
Bars we visited – Finns, The Black Dog, The Dorothy, The Duke of Edinburgh, Baracuda, Wetherspoons, Rendezvous.