Despite having lived in or near Reading for most of my life, I’ve barely spent any time at the Madejski Stadium.
And that’s something I’m definitely going to change, judging by how much fun we had there on Saturday.
We were invited along as guests of the Millenium Madejski Hotel to see London Irish v Agen, and it was a brilliant day.
We started off with a drink in the Atrium bar, which is an airy, relaxed space to chill before the game. Obviously most people were drinking Guinness to get into the London Irish spirit, although I went for a G&T (I can’t handle the whole meal-in-a-glass fullness of Guinness!).
We then moved into Le Cafe for lunch, and had a delicious three course meal. (It’s also worth noting that there’s usually a buffet on match days too with veggie option, fish, chicken and roast rib of beef – yum!).
I started with a chicken terrine, which had that wonderful coarse texture of terrine and a great meaty flavour, followed by a tender sirloin steak, cooked with just the right amount of pinkness for medium-rare. It came with chips, half a tomato and half a mushroom, and a little gravy boat of a lovely, creamy peppercorn sauce.
For pudding I chose the banoffee pie which had a wickedly sweet caramel, topped with cream, and served with ice-cream and sliced bananas.
After lunch we headed straight up to our hospitality box to enjoy the game over a few drinks. Obviously it is a little different in the hospitality box, and it felt like a real treat to watch from our own space, but really the atmosphere is the same wherever you are in the stadium.
Sitting out in the open air, feeling the light spray of the rain on your face, and cheering like a loon when London Irish score a try, is awesome. There’s something really nice about a wintery game too, where you’re all wrapped up in hats and scarves and the sky gets dark as the game goes on. I’d totally recommend warming up with an Irish coffee afterwards too!
I haven’t been to many sports fixtures but there’s something pretty amazing about a huge crowd of people cheering on the team and sharing in their elation when they win.
Things haven’t been going so well for London Irish over the last few weeks so it was particularly good to see them bring home a win on the day with an impressive 48-10 victory over Agen.
(And check me out sounding like I know something about rugby! Ben is definitely the rugby expert between us, and he helped me out by telling me what was going on during the game.)
After the match we were also really lucky to meet player Alex Lewington, who joined us for a drink and told us about how things went from his perspective. He was a really down to earth guy, and it was great to get the inside track from one of the team.
I might not know the most about rugby, but I would say it’s well worth going to a match, even if you think sport isn’t really your thing. The atmosphere is great, everyone is super friendly, and it’s even better if your side win! You also don’t have to be staying at the Millenium Madejski Hotel to enjoy the food and bar facilities, so it’s worth popping in for a look.
I’ve already earmarked the St Patrick’s Day London Irish game in my diary (apparently it’s the best of the year) and will definitely be back soon to hopefully see London Irish scoop another victory.
I was invited as a guest of the Millenium Madejski Hotel but all views on the day are my own.