Saturday, April 9, 2011

Part the XXVII: Goodnight Irene or: Where Nick goes to Bristol.

The final day of my rail tour of the UK takes me to the harbor city of Bristol.  Chartered in 1155, it was the home to Isambard Kingdom Brunel of Great Western Railroad fame.  Many of his inventions and designs are still on display throughout the city.  It was one of these, the S.S. Great Britain, that I visited immediately upon arriving in the City.  Launched in 1843, these hybrid steam/sail vessel was the largest of its time and is widely considered the world's first ocean liner.  It set a world speed record to transatlantic travel making the trip from London to New York in only 14 days.

Dropping below into the dry dock to view the hull close up.

The propeller and rudder.

This women is a volunteer worker who comes in everyday to play music popular to the time of the ship on the piano in the main saloon.


Of course, the main reason for my trip was in order to view my first League Football Match.  For those of you who remember my stories of Bath City, you will remember that they are a non-league premier club just one step below the full-time professional Football League 2.  Today's match takes me to League 1, just two steps below the English Premier League.  This takes me to Memorial Stadium, home to the Bristol Rovers Football Club as they took on Exeter City.  If you are curious about the title of my article, there is a reason for it.  The higher one gets in the leagues, the more vocal the fans are.  In the case of Bristol Rovers, the fans often sing "Goodnight Irene" before, during and after the match.  

Yeah, this is what 10,000 of the faithful sound like.  Today was no different.  The songs and chants range from the odd (10,000 fans singing the guitar line of the White Stripe's "Seven Nation Army), to the downright brilliant (singing "We Forgot You Were Here" to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance when the opposing fans start singing after a long period of being quiet.

Rovers ended up losing 2-nil after going to the halftime break tied nil-nil.  They are now only one spot out of the relegation zone of being sent down to league two. If their fans stay behind them like they were today though, they will probably still succeed in staying up.  I, for one, believe in the Rovers.

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