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Loads of laughs at Liverpool
Monday morning- 4.30am outside Lisnagarvey High School. Thank goodness that the Ulsterbus driver Darren Hogg was wide awake as the tour party couldn't wait to get on the coach for a little bit of missed sleep. As with other annual football tours from the school, anticipation mounted as the coach reached Dublin for the 8.20 sailing to Holyhead.
A pleasant crossing and a lovely journey through beautiful North Wales brought the party to the Cheshire Oaks shopping outlet. Here gifts for Mum, Dad, Brothers and Sisters were quickly purchased allowing the children to plan for 'more important' and self-indulgent purchases. The beautiful Barnstondale outdoor centre on the Wirral peninsula was the base for the next few days. The indoor and outdoor sports facilities provided excellent entertainment that evening. Tuesday dawned with a very full itinerary. A visit to Anfield in the morning, a little bite of lunch and off to the Macron stadium (formerly Reebok) at Bolton. The Bolton club really did make wonderful hosts. A coaching session at their academy was a wonderful experience. This was followed by a tour of the clubs ultra-modern stadium with integrated 4* hotel but not finished yet, the tour party then attended a hard fought 1-1 draw between Bolton and Reading.
Tuesday had been good, could Wednesday be better? YES!
First a trip to the famous old Goodison park home of Everton F.C. and after lunch the very serious business of a very competitive match against Woodchurch high school. Playing into the wind Lisnagarvey were 3 goals down at half time despite twice striking the Woodchurch crossbar.
Some astute personnel and tactical changes by popular coach Mr Tinney allowed the visitors to reduce the arrears to a single goal but a 3-2 defeat to a team which boasted players already on the books at Tranmere Rovers was indeed a moral victory.
The culmination of the tour was to be in attendance at the Etihad stadium to watch Manchester City play Leicester City but a wonderful surprise was in store.
Unknown to the party before departures was the fact that Lisnagarvey had been chosen for the Man City 'blue carpet experience' where the pupils formed the greeting line along the blue carpet when the home team's luxury coach arrived.
"High fives" and photo opportunities for a few minutes with some pupils insisting they would not be washing their hands again following greeting from the likes of Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, James Milner and Frank Lampard who immediately recognised voices from the home land of his fiancée Christine Bleakley. Such was the wonderful occasion that 'dyed-in-the-wool' Manchester United and Liverpool fans in the tour party became decked out in city favours purchased from the club shop.
As is tradition on these trips, a midnight prize giving at Barnstondale was most enjoyable. Player of the match awards and fellow players were the serious presentations but awards for such things as drama queen, poor timekeeping and worst taste in music brought much laughter.
Thanks must go to Arrowe Park hospital on the Wirral- Drama queen Danielle McMullan reported to reception with a suspected broken bone in her foot and left with a 'badly sprained' diagnosis yet later in the evening was climbing stairs in a football stadium- "a miracle on merseyside" indeed.
The journey home on Thursday included a visit to the village of -'Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch' where the generous Mr Carlisle offered £5 to any pupil who could correctly pronounce the name properly. (He's been doing this for 6 years and still holds his money.) The staff already mentioned Mr Tinney and Mr Carlisle were half of the adult group, the other two leaders being Miss Gawley and the man who takes the credit for organising perhaps the schools best ever tour- Mr Reid.
As one pupil said on the journey home- "If carlsberg did football trips..."
Reported by Mr Carlisle
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