The 2005, "Beer, it's not just for Breakfast" tour of Prague.
All started well, we met at the club at 8:30 am for a quickie, collected our tour T-shirts, and took the pre tour photo, the bus was on time whisking us to the airport departure bar in a flash, this was conveniently placed directly opposite our departure gate (they knew), where the hostess requested our attendance once everybody else had sat down, the flight seemed short interspersed with beer and goulash, and we where soon at the Stalingrad esque dos house. With two cold showers per hotel we where guaranteed to spend most of our time in the bars, great choice John.
Throughout the tour we where required to carry a letter of "permission to tour" from our wives or mothers, who all did an excellent job, with our largest legal representatives letter being read first, and was voted outright winner without having to hear any others.
And so we began the first day, sadly loosing an hour to the time zone thing, we hit the ale forming a kitty, the beer just kept coming. An excellent steak in the first restaurant set us up for the evening, and we began to trawl the bars of the old town, Prague is a beautiful City spoiled only by drunken British rugby teams, our destiny was now set in stone, and in no time we had lost one member to the custody local constabulary and forked out for a couple of fines, although we managed to negotiate the price down in one instance. Now down to 17 we bought 18 drinks on each round and drank the extra with a toast of "Free the Sefton one" each taking a sip of his beer.
Saturday started far too early with breakfast beer, and an egg and bacon side order, and by lunch we where in the main sun drenched square, having enjoyed the pleasure of a number of random bars on the way, I had now learned a few words of Czech for : "no", "not in here" and "would you please leave". We rang the embassy again requesting them to "free the Sefton one" and where generously offered no visiting, no phone calls and no information, somewhat deflated we focused on the imbibing activities, continuing into the night one youth decided he needed to slap an over zealous beggar to keep him at arms length (beyond flea jumping distance) and later to ensure we had totally alienated ourselves from to indigenous begging community, another youth (with a trunk) threw up on one in a door way. Our Scottish contingent was found asleep on the cooling flint cobbled square (they think of everything over there) and assumed dead by to on looking Poles, who where assured that this was the norm, and that later the square would be carpeted by the same species some of whom will be wearing skirts, bewildered they moved on.
Match day loomed; we began again in the breakfast bar, and slowly one by one the sorry looking lot appeared with the now phone less, bag less and very very angry number 8, who returned to his room for another look for it, mean while back in the bar we instructed the Scotsman to go and give it back to him before he started a war, the Scotsman not being compos mentis decided to ring his stolen mobile phone to inform him from the maximum distance that his bag was hidden, it just rang out of course and the jock was now forced into facing the angriest of men with the good news "it was only a jape", with steam still spurting from his ears we all sat down for another calming beer, in no time the bus arrived to take us all to the game.
Praga, our hosts for the day where only 30 minutes away, we soon arrived at the ground, the team started to change and sleep. I went to the bar for a couple of beers for the water boy and the big cheese, that's 36 Crowns please, I've got two you know I replied, yes that's correct replied the barman, (that's 40p each), my eyes lit, for the next round I was armed with 36 Crowns, only to be informed that the beer was free fro the duration on the game ( a practice we must surely start at Sefton), the rest of the day is a bit of a blur, but here are my recollections, we started against the Praga side and Portsmouth loaned us a prop to replace the missing in action "Sefton one", the team soon realized they where on the pitch (quite a shock to many of them) and began to play, we put on a excellent performance but lost to the very good, and sober Czech side. Now with only time for a few inter game beers we where back on the park and playing fellow runners up Portsmouth, Starting with a hakka, hoki koki style, and our own version of 15 man naturist rugby we scared them into a 17 all draw, but again played well scoring a couple of tries, whilst consuming refreshingly free beer throughout. Oxford Harlequins won against Praga in the final, then we all returned to the Club for beer and food, our hosts had laid on a large buffet spread, and followed it with the usual goulash, and the beer remained free of charge until our departure, much praise to our hosts who put on a n excellent days rugby, food and beer.
The last night. Well after all that and more the last night was comparatively uneventful, as the thirteen weary players and two weary assistants slumped into their bar chairs while our two legal representatives protested the innocence of the "Sefton One" at the local nick., again without any joy, we mustered for more beer and finished off with another excellent meal and the obligatory beers, retiring for a couple of hours kip before our 7:00 am departure. With only panic buying to complete at the airport, for allsorts of hand bags and lampshades and stuff I managed to buy my wife a lovely breakfast, which I ate as she wasn't there.
Finally thanks to our tour organizer John's daughter and John, with a rounded mixture of nutcases and an excellent choice of City, plus the slick pre arranged travel, made for an excellent tour. Well done.