Rugby League – Dacia Magic Weekend 2017

An event that certainly worked it’s magic on us!

My husband Ron and I enjoy watching great sporting contests and a few years ago we made it our mission to enjoy some ‘firsts’ in live sporting events which saw us attend, amoungst others, our first England football match, first England Cricket match (where we beat Australia in the Ashes in Durham) and first Rugby Union game of Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins. So imagine how thrilled I was to be invited by the Rugby Football League to attend the Dacia Magic Weekend at St. James Park in Newcastle. This fantastic event sees the 12 Betfred Super League teams compete in 6 games during this spectacular 2 day event. This must surely be a Rugby League fans dream!

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Now in it’s 11th year, the Dacia Magic Weekend returned to Newcastle for the 3rd consecutive year. Such is the popularity of this event, it saw 65,407 fans flock to St James Park over two days to enjoy the Rugby League action and a host of family entertainments.

We were attending on the first day, Saturday and travelled to the stadium by car where we took advantage of complimentary parking as part of our VIP Saturday tickets. Driving through the city we spotted many fans in their team colours or in fancy dress to reflect the ‘super hero’ theme that influenced some of the Team strips for this years event. Leeds Rhinos’ kit was themed as Captain America, Hull FC as Hulk, Warrington Wolves as Thor, Wakefield Trinity’s as Spiderman and Catalans Dragons kit as Ironman.

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Arriving at the stadium car park we were quickly directed to the dedicated parking area by efficient parking stewards. Once parked we were kindly escorted by a friendly young steward toward the Milburn Stand reception where plenty of helpful staff were on hand directing people to their relevant hospitality suites.

Arriving at Heroes Club, our venue for the day and the latest offering in hospitality venues at St. James Park, we were issued with our event passes and tokens for a complimentary drink, which was a welcome touch. At this point I was really impressed with how organised and welcoming the staff were. We entered Heroes Club to be met with the official welcome speech from Claire Morrow, Director of the Rugby Football League. The room itself is very cool and contemporary in style with mixed seating of bar tables and stools, dining tables and sofas. Settled with a drink were soon enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and as we weren’t far off the first game starting, there was an air of anticipation among the guests. Numerous hospitality staff circulated the room offering tasty Tapa’s style fayre and canapes and a DJ played a great mix of background music which added to the enjoyment as we approached the first game of the day.

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Nearing the 2.30 kick off we took our ‘extremely comfortable’ seats in the Directors Box to watch Widnes Vikings take on Wakefield Trinity. What a great location either side of the centre line! just perfect to enjoy all the sporting action. The crowd was a great mix including families, couples and groups of friends. Waiting for game to start, I sensed a great feeling of camaraderie amonst fans and the vibe was a very relaxed, which was certainly a contrast to the crowds who attend the stadium for football matches! Of course, once the teams appeared on the pitch, the crowd began to roar and then it was game on!

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I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the Stadium and felt that Wakefield Trinity must have brought the whole of West Yorkshire to support them such was the noise their fans generated whenever Trinity looked like scoring a Try.  During the game many youngsters were waving giant foam ‘hands’ which had been handed out by sponsor Dacia or raising their Try cards, which were provided by Kingstone Press. As we don’t support a particular team, we just clapped and cheered when either side scored a Try or a Place Kick over the crossbar and I observed that many of the fans did this too!

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We remained in our seats durng half time as we were entertained by the ‘future’ of Rugby League as we watched junior Rugby players being put through their paces on the pitch as well as tackling a few mascots! namely a Lion and a tin of ‘Mushy Peas! sadly, my photo of that novelty didn’t come out too well! there was a live band playing for our enjoyment too.

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Watching live, I felt the physicality of the game was even more apparent. The players really get stuck into each other and hit the ground at some force too! it really makes you think about what the human body can withstand! After an action-packed game, Trinity were victorious at 34 – 12 although Vikings perhaps won in the style stakes with their black and white Sir Bobby Robson Foundation jerseys –  a fitting tribute and a nod toward the Football Team who usually thrill the crowds at St James Park.

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Heading back into Heroes club we enjoyed another selection of tasty treats before watching a Q&A session with former England captain Kevin Sinfield who was quizzed about his career by two young fans. This added a fun element to the proceedings as their range of questions, including one about his journey to the Dark Side (Rugby Union) brought about a fair few laughs, though all in good spirit. They also challenged him to demonstrate his trademark cartwheel! though he managed wangle his way out of that one!

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We observed that there were a few familiar faces milling around including Brian Barwick, Chairman of Super league, Europe; Steve Harper, former NUFC goalkeeper and the legendary Peter Beardsley, the former Newcastle United, Liverpool and England footballer. Peter has been an avid fan of Rugby League since watching his first live game at Anfield Football Stadium during his playing days for Liverpool in the 1980’s. He had passed us in the corridor earlier and said a friendly hello as if he knew us (he doesn’t) which was lovely. When he came into Heroes Club I took the opportunity to ask him for his autograph for my two NUFC fan nephews to which he happily agreed. He came across as a lovely man who happily posed for photographs with the many fans who approached him.

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They say all good thing must come to an end and unfortunately, as we’d had prior commitments before being invited along, we were only able to stay for one game. So we reluctantly took our leave of Heroes Club and I was quite disappointed as I was having such a great time and the atmosphere was getting livelier by the minute! Having read about the facilities of the Fan Zone, we left enough time to check this out before we went.

Situated outside under the quite gaze of the Bobby Robson and Jackie Milburn statues, the Fan Zone included plentiful food and drink facilities and opportunities to buy merchandise. The Fan Zone stage hosted player interviews and more plus fans could take part in fun activities including Rodeo Rugby Ball, Rugby Passing and High Striker games and a chance to test their skills on a Batak machine. Dacia had a range of their cars on display too.

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It was fairly quiet as we entered, most probably as fans had poured into the stadium for the second game between Hull FC and St. Helens. Having enjoyed food and drink in the Stadium we didn’t try anything in the Fan Zone however, there was plenty on offer to cater for most tastes. I’d have loved to hang out for a bit with a glass..or two..of prosecco if I’d had more time!

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Making our way to our car, I felt reluctant to be leaving but was so glad that I’d had the opportunity to attend this fantastic event which saw fans from all over the UK head to Newcastle. The event is known for the carnival atmosphere it creates in the city which makes Newcastle, known for it’s ‘Party City’ credentials, the perfect place to hold such an event. The stadiums central location means it is easily reached by the various excellent transport links direct to the heart of the city. The region receives a welcome financial boost too with last year seeing in excess of £4.3 million being generated for the local economy. The beauty of the City is also promoted as images of Newcastle and the surrounding area are broadcast around the globe as part of the TV coverage.

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Of course we followed the remaining action via the radio and TV once we’d left and the weekend culminated in the following results:

Saturday May 20th

Widnes 12 – 34 Wakefield; Hull FC 0 – 45 St Helens; Wigan 24 – 24 Warrington

Sunday May 21st

Catalan Dragons 10 – 18 Huddersfield; Leigh 22 – 36 Salford; Castleford 29 – 18 Leeds

All in all the Dacia Magic Weekend is a great event for all the family whether you are a Rugby League fan or just love sport and a great day out! and I’d love to see it return to Newcastle in 2018…now that really would be magic!

Did you attend this event or attend in previous years? or perhaps you’ve had a great experience at another sporting event. I’d love to hear about it.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I hope you enjoyed it.

Bye for now, June xx

 

*I received complimentary tickets for the event in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Viva La Vintage

Even if you’re a Mod!

Last Saturday Ron (The Hubby) and I attended the Clayshed’s Big Vintage Festival in Newcastle. We were lucky enough to be invited along by organisers Britain Does Vintage and after having a great time at one of their festivals last year we were really looking forward to it. Neither of us are part of the Vintage scene so to speak (unless you count Mod as 60’s Vintage) but as stated in previous blogs we really appreciate the music and fashion etc. that goes with those periods.

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What is it with festivals and the weather? Or is it just our bad luck? but after two warm, sunny days the weather couldn’t make it’s mind up providing  hail, wind, rain and sun usually at the same time. The Clayshed is a venue we’ve not visited before so I didn’t know what to expect especially as the festival at Scampston Hall was mainly outdoor and set in beautiful grounds. By contrast this place has an industrial warehouse feel which the organisers had divided up to create a comfortable tea room, stage and dance floor complete with deckchair seating plus the usual stalls. Outside there were a handful of classic vehicles plus food and drink outlets along with a fab singer, Lewis Hill, belting out 50’s & 60’s rock and roll numbers to greet the visitors. It wasn’t as impressive a setting as Scampston Hall, it was a city centre affair after all, but the bonus here was most attractions being indoors where it was dry! a tad cold mind, but dry.

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Lewis Hill 1

Male Singer
Lewis Hill

Stepping inside we were met by a blaze of colour in the form of stalls brimming with dresses and accessories and even more fantastic music filling the air courtesy of female quartet The JADeS. We strolled around the stalls admiring the new and Pre Loved offerings, wondering about the history of some of the fabulous items. It’s great to take time to speak to the stall holders, after all, Vintage is their passion.outfitsSuitcase

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One lady was the designer of beautiful Vintage dresses that retail at a purse friendly £24.99 amazing! Others were offering handmade accessories, Vintage makeovers in the form of a Hairdressing Parlour and the chance to have a Vintage photo taken.

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Wow! £24.99 dress from Gas Axe Inc

Hair Parlour

After our first sweep of the stalls we decided it was time to sit and enjoy the entertainment with cake and coffee, so off we went for our first perusal of the tasty treats. We opted for Ginger Loaf with Lemon Icing for round one and took our seats to watch the Burlesque workshop, ran by Trixie from House of Trixie Blue. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect and didn’t join in (I didn’t want my coffee to get cold!!) it looked like fantastic fun and the participants really got into the spirit of it, so who knows, maybe next time!

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This was followed by a performance from Hildy Harland, a fantastic singer who specialises in Vintage Jazz, Swing and Blue numbers. It is evident that the organisers aim is to provide first class entertainment.

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Hildy Harland

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Having been thoroughly entertained and looking forward to more, we had another mooch around the stalls before sitting down for coffee number two and fruit scones with jam and cream…Yum! At this point you could hear the hailstones bouncing off the roof so we were glad of our good fortune to be sitting indoors. Next on stage were a great vocal harmony quartet The JADeS (named from their initials Jane, Andrea, Dawn and Sue) who surprised us with their twist on songs such as Creep by Radiohead and Teenage Kicks by The Undertones. They were joined on the dancefloor by the dance hosts who performed a three person jive in fantastic outfits.

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The JADeS
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The Back Step Boogie Club

Talking of outfits, many of the stall holders and entertainers were, as expected, decked out in fine attire however, it was wonderful to see people turning up dressed in their Vintage finery which added to the spirit of the occasion.

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Michelle

Outfit

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Lovely ladies from Luxulite
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Backstep Boogie Dancers

When the JADeS came to the end of their performance the floor was taken by Trina from The Back Step Boogie Club, microphone in hand, ready to lead a basic lesson in the Charleston. Requests were made for audience members to have a go but we kindly declined and were later referred to as the ‘scaredy cats’ at the side… all in good humour though! However, many people did participate including some of the singers and I was impressed with how clearly and concisely the instructor taught the basic steps bringing them all together for a ‘finale’ to music.

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Having watched the first performances by all the entertainers, we made our leave to find that the sun had just come out and quite a crowd had built up outside enjoying food and drink whilst listening to the live singer.

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So we didn’t get to enjoy any sunshine, some of the later visitors got the benefit of that, but we’ve never let weather come between us and a good time and that’s exactly what we had. The weather may have played its part in keeping some visitors away, but these fairs and festivals are fantastic, fun days out and I’d recommend anyone to go along and enjoy the experience. Check here for venues and dates http://www.britaindoesvintage.co.uk/

Thanks again for having a read

Bye for now, June xx