Bunnies in Britain (Part III): Pub Crawl in St. Helens

The weather was cold and clammy.  The sky was grey with just a tinge of blue.  Rain gently drizzled down touching every last blade of grass.  The February air emitted a wet chill that blew through the countryside in Merseyside.  Perfect weather for footy!

"Welcome to St. Helens!"

“Welcome to St. Helens!”

The day had finally come in the form of the last day of the 2015 World Club Challenge.  A day that would pit the winners of the NRL from Australia against the winners of the Super League in Europe.  It was the South Sydney Rabbitohs versus the St. Helens Saints.  The place: Langtree Park, an 18,000 seat rugby stadium on the outskirts of Liverpool.  The time: 7 pm, Greenwich mean time.  I began my sojourn to St. Helens at the Queens Centre Buspark, a long bus terminal just behind my hotel in Liverpool.  I was most fortunate to encounter two Brits who were also on their way to St. Helens.  Originally, I planned on taking the train, but construction at St. Helens Central forced me onto the buses.  It turned out to be a happy happenstance.  Just like my night of pub crawling in Liverpool and my pub crawl in Sydney taught me, it’s that being an American fan of footy can really pay off!  The man, whose name was Paul, offered to pay my bus fare; he gave me an unused bus ticket that would also work for my ride back.  Kindness, thy name is footy fans!

The George Pub: HQ for all St. Helens Saints fans!

The George Pub: HQ for all St. Helens Saints fans!

About 30 minutes later, our bus pulled into a line of shelters in St. Helens.  Paul, his daughter Ali, and I ventured off to have a drink with the St. Helens fans.  Our first stop was The George Pub on George Street.  A small, yet cozy place that was from the red and white posters and picture frames on the walls, this was clearly a watering hole for Saints fans.  Inside, I was expecting a raucous crowd of hooligans like the Manchester United fans from the 2004 comedy, Eurotrip.  At least I was hoping footy fans here in England weren’t anything like the stereotypical angry soccer hooligans that America envisions or the ones that are described by John Oliver.  Nonetheless, it would make for a memorable trip.  The tableau inside, however, was anything but raucous.  It was chill, relaxed, and everyone’s eyeballs were glued to the telly that was showing rugby league highlights.  As if paying for my bus fare wasn’t enough, Paul also bought me a pint of ale.  In hindsight, I would have gone for a lager or Jack and Coke.  However, I wasn’t prepared to look like a sore thumb in  such a setting.  I swallowed by pride, asked for some British ale, and took a sip.  Ugh!  Big mistake!  Remember when you were a little kid and you resisted the urge to swallow that bitter medicine your mother made you take?  Well, it’s kinda like that.

In the throng of St. Helens footy fans!

In the throng of St. Helens footy fans!

My first English Ale

My first English Ale

Paul, Ali, and I hoofed it from The George to The Glass House, a much larger watering hole where he assured me that I would find my bunny brethren.  And boy was he right!  Less than half a mile away, just around the corner from St. Helens Parish Church in a rain-soaked plaza, The Glass House was a large restaurant and pub that was bursting with fans who came to St. Helens just for this bout.  And it was here that I laid eyes on the most beautiful sight to come from Australia since Diana Glenn, Elle MacPherson, and Olivia Newton-John: South Sydney Rabbitohs fans!  The Glass House was, indeed, a big place.  It felt like a Japanese subway car, but with more booze and sports fans.  What amazed me was how many Rabbitohs fans showed up for this game.  I mean, I thought my flight from NYC to Manchester was a long one.  These bunnies came over halfway around the world, traveled halfway up both hemispheres, and endured hours, maybe days of exhausting travel to see this.  When it comes to loyalty to your favorite team, you gotta give the Aussies much credit for that kind of fortitude.  Not to mention the fact that they all love to travel and drink.  Honestly, have you ever met an Aussie on holiday who isn’t or hasn’t been the life of the party?!

Why I am proud to be an Australian bunny!

Why I am proud to be an Australian bunny!

I scuttled away from Paul and Ali temporarily as I prepared to work the room with my Rabbitohs charm.  I “bunny-hopped” (that’s right, you heard me!) over to a table of red and green fans noshing and drinking.  They seemed intrigued by my Rabbitohs cape, scarf, and socks.  Oh, did I mention I even wore red and green shoelaces?  Never mind!  Then, once I opened my mouth and revealed that the well-dressed bunny was from New York, I watched as their jaws hit the floor.  I know that no one likes a braggart or show-off, but in the midst of some of the most lovable sports fans on Earth, how could I not resist?  Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn to my Australian family as if I was back at The Royal Oak in Lidcombe.  It just felt so good to be carowsing with a group of fans that I hadn’t seen in almost six months.  As I worked the room, I felt like one of the family.  I mean, I had only discovered the Rabbitohs six years earlier in Alice Springs and I was still learning all the nuances of the brutal ballet.  But it still didn’t stop me from winning over my favorite Aussies!

A bunny among saints

A bunny among saints

Soon after, I caught up with Paul and Ali.  We parted our ways as the two St. Helens fans began their short walk to Langtree Park.  And as it turned out, I was headed there as well!  But before I could conclude my trek through St. Helens, fate intervened…

TO BE CONTINUED…

The George
8 George Street
Saint Helens WA10 1BU

The Glass House
5 Market Street
Saint Helens, Merseyside WA10 1NE

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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2 Responses to Bunnies in Britain (Part III): Pub Crawl in St. Helens

  1. Dan says:

    Enjoying the story, Jared! You were featured in the Daily Mirror’s Rugby League column this week.

  2. Paul Condon says:

    Keep the stories coming buddy

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