Over the course of this year I’d heard many stories from previous trips to Isle of Man. This meant the weekend had a lot to live up to, but that it did.
The 51st Isle of Man festival saw a much smaller gathering than that of the previous year, however its quality not quantity, which explains why Tom Powell wasn’t in attendance. The weekend started with an early rise and shine as we gathered in Liverpool ready for the weekend ahead. The group came in drips and drabs each all ready donning their yellow items. Being on your own in a yellow tshirt can look quite normal. Standing around in a group of people wearing yellow looks a little out of place but also acceptable. Turning up in a full yellow tracksuit with a yellow hat to go with looks horrendous but does the job.
The ferry trip over to the island was a fairly quiet affair. Elliot Jackson spent it sleeping off his previous big night out. The ferry also saw the draws for that evening’s beer racing trials. I should explain to those less informed that the beer racing is almost, if not as important, as the running races with official rules as to how the competition works published on the event website.
Due to the late arrival of our vessel we had a rushed visit to the hotel before heading down to catch coaches to the first race of the weekend. The first race was a 10km circular route starting and finishing in Port Erin. Unusually men and women raced together. First finisher for the Dossers was exstudent Tom Atkinson who came home in a fantastic 10th place. Freddie, Glenn and Bellew’s respective 13th and 19th and 20th secured the boys 3rd place in the team competition. They were shortly followed by Jacob. Seb “the fittest man in uni” (not just my opinion, he also won the Adamson bequest) scraped a sub 36 minute time in his first 10km and Dave smashed his PB on a hilly course. He also managed to beat an injury riddled Lucy “look for the girl with sun in her eyes” Crookes who was the 5th lady closely followed by Coleen who took 6th and Bethan in 13th. The girls secured 2nd place in the women’s team competition. DJ “predator” Crizzle was promoted to Men’s race captain, as he was top dog for the weekend I thought it only right that his full title be restored for this report. DJ “predator” Crizzle (whose race number was 69) took 110th, six places above partner in crime Ashley Bailey. The fastest sprint of the day goes to the lady in front of Rob Johnson, never have I seen someone kick so hard after looking over their shoulder, all the more impressive seeing as she wasn’t even part of the race.
The race was celebrated with a well deserved pint and the first of many glimpses of Freddie’s manhood that we were treated to that weekend. We headed back to the coaches but arrived late meaning there were limited spots available and unfortunately for Lucy the only seat was in the middle of Alehouse. After turning around I noticed that Lucy was surrounded by more sausage than a German Bratwurst festival, this then prompted me to realise that I couldn’t actually see any Alehouse women. It appears Alehouse women are about as common as unicorns, treat them mean keep them unkeen.
That evening saw the trials for the beer racing with first round match ups already decided we cracked on. The first round saw some fantastic performances although the hoped for major upset of the night of Elliot by Tabitha didn’t materialise. Second rounds were based on the times of the first pint with the closest matches put together. This threw up some interesting fixtures with one highlight being Bellew versus Bethan, Bethan won out although she was on the squash. Being a true
dosser Bethan only consumes yellow liquid; ironically orange squash is also the first choice of Alehouse. Bethan wasn’t the only one not on alcohol as Tom Atkinson took to the coca cola. The big match up however was between an off form Dan Whittle and relative newcomer to the sport Sarah Marsden. Dan however retained some dignity downing his pint in less than 9 seconds, beating Sarah. We then decided to head out. On our way we had to pass the Alehouse hotel so in true Bellend, I mean Bellew, fashion he gave their window a test. Freddie took the Doss Alehouse rivalry to a whole new level but fell short of a cardigan incident and calmly walked away again. On the way back from our night out, Jacob and I decided to go and see the Alehouse gang again. This is when we discovered just why Alehouse have so many chants. I have previously made jokes about our own hymn practice however Alehouse really does have hymn practice, not only that but they also have a hymn book to match. Despite being dressed up in yellow the slow witted Alehouse took a while to catch on to our presence before chasing us out the hotel.
The Saturday had a slow start with a general mooch around Douglas on the search for more yellow and horrific jackets. Early afternoon saw a coach ride across the island to Peel where the hill race was to take place. With Freddie and Lucy being fell racing experts Doss hopes were set high. To check that Freddie’s arm was in full working order Bellew tested it out for him that morning. The hill race was almost as horrible as our behaviour was at the now infamous Nottingham relays, the inclines were so great that Rob Johnson had to sit out again due to his fear of heights. That and it gave him a chance to chat to the local talent, it being the Easter holidays plenty was in abundance. The hill race was a bit of a mud and snow fest, Anne-Marie slid all over the place and by the end resembled a Glasgow uni runner (they wear mainly black with a little yellow) than a Doss one. This was much to the amusement of the marshals, who she told off for laughing at her, this only made them laugh more. There were some good results here as Freddie took 3rd, and the Doss men took 2nd in the team competition. Seb came 28th showing he should stick to athletics over gymnastics a point proved with a little help from Ellie Salvidge. The ladies fared worse with Crookes in 10th, Coleen 12th and Katrine 13th, this was enough to secure 4th in their team competition. Crizzle took the first of the worst title again taking it to two nil over Ashley Bailey setting him up for a potential grand slam.
After the hill race we set off on the longest race of the weekend, the cross island pub crawl. The aim is to run from one side of the Isle of Man to the other checking out the hospitality in as many public houses as you can. Transport is supposed to be by foot although cheating is allowed. Some of our girls were too keen to start drinking and started off without the rest of the club, we eventually caught them up a few pubs in. The soon to be annual upside down beer drinking competition took place with Tabitha giving it a go against Glenn. Tabitha took one Tabitha sized sip before deciding she was drowning, meanwhile Glenn wolfed his down in the time taken for a normal man to down a pint upright. On one run between pubs Dosser Paul decided that the road didn’t go that way and jumped over a wall into an 8 foot bramble bush, this left him with some nice battle scars for the next pub. This pub also saw Ashley Bailey show off his flexibility by picking up a lighter off the floor with his mouth without kneeling or putting his hands on the floor. Elliott showed off his inflexibility by failing to pick up the same lighter from a table applying the same rules. We left the pub and a van then pulled up, I won’t say exactly how many people we put in the back but it may or may not have been at least twice the amount of dwarves in Snow White, plus a random man that was already in there. This journey was rather interesting to say the least and without windows had no idea where we were going. At some point in the evening Bellew stopped for some Doss coloured refreshment courtesy of Freddie and Andy. After another pub we then finished the journey off with a well
deserved trip to McDonalds. Slobin proved he was still a student at heart and apparently physically as he borrowed a student card to get a free McFlurry. A certain Neil Buchanan lookalike took the opportunity to cement the line, “she was only 14”, into history. Meanwhile, Bellew and Elliot tried to order at the drive through only to discover they weren’t in a vehicle courtesy of the lady at the window. They then walked up to the next car to get them to order it for them, they swiftly walked on when they realised it was their friends in blue whom they had acquainted themselves with in Nottingham. I seem to then remember Bellew walking around and testing out most of McDonalds. Elliot “got fat” Jackson consumed so much reconstituted meat that McDonalds ran out and we had to leave. Saturday night saw the clocks jump forward, one of many hours lost that evening.
Sunday was the day of the 5km races. For the women this is a flat out race and the men take to it as a relay. The ladies did very well once again and Coleen Wilson took our highest finish of the weekend with a fantastic second place. With Seb pulling out Dave got promoted to the B team leaving a gap in the A team. Elliot Jackson stepped up and managed to run, almost well. The men’s C team came 4th. Ashley retained some dignity claiming back his first of the worst title by three seconds, avoiding a complete whitewash by Crizzle. Bellew’s time from this race was equal to the time he spent in the club that evening.
The afternoon saw the biggest annual sporting event between two universities, after which we sat down and watched the Oxford Cambridge boat race. The Doss Alehouse football match should probably be left out of this report due to the complete hammering we suffered; however it is an integral part of the weekend. After turning up without a football our warm up was carried out with a tennis ball found on the street. We had just about managed to scrape together a team for the fixture using every man we could get our hands on, minus Rob Johnson. Alehouse had turned up with a full team plus extras but still no birds. The first half didn’t go well and Alehouse managed to get a few goals past us. After which Elliot Jackson’s extra weight (not helped by the McDonalds) proved too much for his ankle as he fell to the floor and crashed out of the match. The match continued and by the end of the first half the score was 3-0. After a half time team talk and a quick game of digimon or tamagotchi we went into the second half with a new resolve and gravity on our side. Our new resolve was quickly destroyed, as another five goals flew past us. I would feel guilty for not saving all the goals another goalie could have saved (all 8) but we still only would have drawn. Man of the match has to go to Dan Whittle without whom the score probably would have been in double figures, although that isn’t really saying much. I was going to do a post match interview however in the words of Clare Balding, “no one wants to speak to losers”.
After a quick drink we headed out for a nice meal. Freddie gave a speech which was almost as inspiring as Jacob’s at the AGM. For this grand occasion Bellew decided a new haircut was in order and got Freddie to shave the Armani eagle into the back of his head. I use the terms shave and Armani eagle loosely, butcher and tetris would be more appropriate and I’m sure a gymnast would have done a better job. We then headed over to the evening venue for the presentations and the main event of the weekend, the beer racing. As we turned up late we were met by the normal chorus of abuse from Alehouse, at least their hymn practice didn’t go to waste, still no ladies though. First rounds went well with the Ladies A team and the Men’s A and B teams qualifying for the next round. The D team did alright and for the first time in his life Rob Johnson beat another team, I expect he drank faster to quell the chorus of “she was only 14”. Second round didn’t fare so well, the A team finished first but got disqualified due to Jim Webb deciding to take a shower mid race. The
ladies did better and in their semi final against Glasgow saw the Scots off at their own game. This put them into the final against Oxford Brookes, this being the sort of boat race that a poly partakes and excels in. The final was close but our ladies took the win causing Freddie to change the lyrics of his chant from “we all know women’s sport doesn’t count” to “it’s all about the ladies”. Freddie was also responsible for the pep talk which consisted of, “you need to win because we forgot to bring the trophy back”. Well done to Sarah, Katrine, Ellie and Anne-Marie our only winners of the weekend. Anne-Marie then proved what a bad winner she is by walking up to members of Alehouse exclaiming, “isn’t it hot in here”, and then fanning herself with her newly acquired plate.
The evening continued and Glenn’s redefinition of a dirty pint saw some members “decide” to go elsewhere. Before this, Bellew tried out gymnastics in front of an Alehouse crowd. After a case of mistaken identity I took on the Tom Powell tactic of switching tops to evade the law and once again this tactic paid off. Tom and Tabitha left to discuss ways to improve student alumni relations. Lucy Crookes set off on a mission that Bronwyn Hodgins could have achieved in half the time which involved a certain member of Alehouse. Despite making it back to the Alehouse hotel, Crookes failed and mission impossible proved impossible with Alehouse still being in possession of their hymn book. After leaving the club Elliot found half a yen on the floor, it was a bit rough looking but picked it up anyway. The night finished but the now standard post lash continued for another hour or so.
The trip to ferry the next morning at 6:30am after less than four hours sleep was the final challenge which this year everyone made. Needless to say there were a lot of conked out people on the ferry.
Overall it was a fantastic weekend and I’m sure to be returning as a fully fledged Dosser.
Alzheimers apologised for his lack of attendance but forgot where he was supposed to be going and boarded a flight to India instead. Tom Powell had no excuse.