Flying with Ryanair was a doddle, even if the turbulence during landing tossed my stomach about, we all landed in Beizer safely.
Now, this is where the supporters club website comes in brilliantly. The message board on the website, asked fans to declare their travel plans which was nifty as I piped up and said "Travelling from Manchester, on my own, if anyone can help me get from Beizer to Montpellier, that would be greatly appreciated" and my answer came in the form of Adrian. Adrian, a long-standing Sharks fan (and fluent french speaker) said to grab him and his daughter at the airport and I was welcome to tag along. He was travelling with his hilarious 5 year old daughter Amy, Cath and Barry.
We all got to Montpellier via a very smooth train, got ourselves checked in at our respective accommodation and then all met up for dinner. Job done!
Saturday, the Sale Sharks Supporters Club had organised a tour of Montpellier. Our guide was a father and son from Montpeliers Supporters Club. Non professional guides, they took us through the streets, telling us about the history of their city. It was the perfect opportunity to meet even more Shark fans, especially Erika and Rachel. As a similar age to me, we all got along instantly and after the tour, everyone found their way to Fitzpatricks bar where, yep, you've guessed it, rugby was on show and we all had a pint.. or two...
With time getting on, we parted and got ourselves sorted for the supporters meal at Chez Boris in the evening. We dominated the restaurant! Sitting with my new friends, even more new acquaintances were made. Laughing was the order of the day and we left the restaurant with aching jaws. And yet, the night was not over! We made our way to the Robin Hood bar where we chatted some more and found even more new fans. Five likely lads, Chris, Tosh, Alex, Andy and Mike. 1am came and Montpellier shut up shop.
Sunday! GAME DAY!
When you got to the main square, you didn't have to look far to see the Sharks shirts. Finding my new friends easily, we made our way back to Fitzpatrick's bar where there was a congregation of supporters.
Getting to the stadium was no trouble. A 15-minute tram followed by a 10/15 minute walk found us at Stade Yves-du-Manoir. I really liked this stadium. The curve of the stands and how the seating was not to pitch level, meant that everyone had a brilliant view of the pitch.
Sitting on the other side from most of the supporters you could not only see, but hear their presence. A strong squad of followers who could compete with the thousands of Montpellier supporters. The acoustics were brilliant. Throughout the game, when our side needed it they belted out "SAYUUULLL" or the new Beatles track "Hey Sale", or my favourite, sung in the second half after conceding a number of rather brilliant Montpellier tries "Always look on the bright side of life". By singing it, it just demonstrates the humour and loyalty of the fans. Basically saying "Oh well, never mind, keep your heads held high, try your best, and we'll support you".
Post-match discussions were nothing but praise for the squad. It was a tough match and they put everything they had into it. Maybe if the ref had went to TMO to check Rob's penalty had gone through, like all the Sale Fans knew it had, then the final score would have been different. However, regardless of the score and the constant rain, the squad and supporters put their all into the match.
Back to Montpellier and into Temple's Bar where Roger Bowen had secured a nifty price of €3.80 (cheapest in town) per pint all night. And a night of drinking, dancing, singing and laughing begins again...
In conclusion, we may have brought the Manchester rain with us, but that never dampened the brilliant weekend had by all in Montpellier.
Must start saving for the next excursion...
By Jen Urwin - @Reel_Jen on Twitter
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