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Barcelona Bad Boys

Athletes 2002

Backs to the Wall Tour

This year there was a purpose – not to lose so heavily and the series of friendlies before the 2002 tour worked wonders. The margin in our defeats was being reduced and we were actually leading one game when it was abandoned. New faces appeared and old friends bowed out but some would return. The monster was now alive. 

In his wisdom, or the fact that he was looking at Spain in an alphabetical atlas, Squandron Leader decided Barcelona was the lucky city this time. Well, it was the city where the pilot decided to park his plane. We were going on to the town of Sitges which could quite rightly be described as the arse end of the Spanish North East. It was more camp than Glastonbury. We felt sorry for the two moustachioed members of the troupe, one of whom is now clean shaven. 

What a reception we received, everywhere you looked there were posters advertising the forthcoming game.

What had we let ourselves in for?

We half expected Spanish TV to be following us around such was the pre-match publicity.

This created a climate of fear as we mused on the standard of the opposition.

We had better train harder this year, and we did. More alcohol was consumed than ever before. 

Our meeting point was the Highwayman which was of a straight orientation especially when we discovered it was also the rendezvous for a travelling women’s rugby team. You wouldn’t want to cross them on a dark night or a hung-over morning, though some were more appealing than the alternative. Just. However it was Tommy’s that received much of our peseta’s that weekend, we just couldn’t’ get enough of the crazy line dancers. If only our back four could be that co-ordinated on the day of the match. 

On fiesta day we were to meet our foe. Things didn’t start that badly, they looked considerably older than us and surely our training would hold us in good stead? No, they took the lead and we feared the worst. However a stunning long distance lob over their giant of a keeper and the scores were level. Things were looking up. The elation did not last long and the Spaniards were leading again and only a superbly stopped penalty from Rob kept the scores low at half time. 

The second half was different and they started to run away with it. Later it transpired that they played together regularly and some had even featured for Barcelona. A late goal from our heroes ensured that a 10-2 defeat was not too embarrassing and we all knew that the better team had won but we had given it all we could. The sweaty performers decided to do what they did best and went and had a drink or 20.

We couldn’t come here without a spot of sightseeing so a daytrip to Barcelona was agreed on, and what a place to start – the Nou Camp.

Where else would you go to buy a Sunderland shirt? But there it was in the club shop. And there it probably still is.

 An impressive stadium with an underwhelming museum, who cares about the basketball or ice hockey teams?

The Familia Sagrada, the English Garden and Gaudi’s house were also explored as well as a trip down Las Ramblas 


Then it emerged... the real reason for one of our number joining us on the tour...

He was pricing up a foreigner!

A good tour came to an end on the Monday and we returned to Blighty knowing that we would have to do something to record that elusive first victory. Roll on 2003…


2nd Time Around

  Jon 'Hitman' Herne
  Nick 'I'll Take That' Herne
  Ken 'Bald Eagle' Hill
  Ian 'Bad Ass' Hossack
  Martin 'Racing Snake' Kavanagh
  Phil 'TV' Norris
James 'Rocket' Rhodes
  Rob 'Wingco' Stapely
  Phil 'Squandron Leader' Stubbs
  John 'Having A Go' Stubbs

2002 Tour Virgins

Phil 'Thumper' Faure
Martin 'Bestie' Hayward
  Ian 'Super Mario' Hollowood  
  Paul 'Action Man' Jenkinson  
  Ken 'Construction Worker' Kenyon