Roses 2014 was all about contrasts. The contrast between being a roving reporter and live blog central. The contrast between a home Roses and an away Roses. The contrast between my bed at home and the unbearably uncomfortable floor of a lecture theatre. I can now confidently assure you all that the former is better than the latter in every single way.
Last year I was able to drift from sport to sport, experiencing everything from the electrifying indoor hockey to the tribal and humid water polo.
This year I was wedged behind a desk fervently typing as my phone nearly went into overdrive to cope with the constant stream of updates from reporters. I consumed an unhealthy amount of caffeine and my fingers went into cramp about four times a day.
And just when I thought I wanted to bang my head against the desk a report would float in from one of the team telling me that somewhere in Lancaster, York were mounting a comeback.
On Friday, I sat there for close to two hours fastidiously blogging the progress of the men’s cricket team. They were woeful with the bat, bowled out for 110 and we all wrote them off.
Then reports started to creep in that we taking wickets; suddenly everyone sat a little further forward in their seats and nervously peered at their phones, refreshing every couple of minutes and hoping for good news. I felt like my heroes over at the BBC cricket live blog, trying to be dry and witty and yet eternally optimistic that York could do something magical with the ball.
From nowhere, wickets began to tumble and Lancaster were quite literally throwing their wickets away. When the report came through that York won by five runs, I threw caution to the wind and pressed caps lock, declaring to all that York had just achieved a ‘champagne moment’. In hindsight, I regret that slightly. But from the depths of despair York had dragged themselves back into the match and provided a chink of hope after a thoroughly miserable start to the day.
It was those matches, the heroic stands and the Lazarus-like comebacks that kept me going all weekend. I didn’t have to trudge out onto the football fields to watch endlessly frustrating losses and I got to relay the fairytale moments that define Roses to the tens of people that follow our live blog. Safe in my live blog bubble, I was completely oblivious to the agony but all too happy to revel in the ecstasy.
On Sunday, we all knew the Roses were gone, yet a Facebook message came through to the office informing us that the men’s basketball team were winning.
I’ve never seen a group of human beings move so fast: five reporters sprinted to the balcony and crammed themselves into the stands, peering over the shoulders of ridiculously tall Lancastrians and desperately eyeing the scoreboard.
Lancaster are three leagues above York and have an actual coach. York have been going into most games this season with a hope and a prayer.
But cheered on by the women’s team and the vocal York contingent, captain Andreas Boedt dragged his team through the nervy periods and as the seconds inched by, the game see-sawed precariously.
The last ten seconds led to me balancing my laptop on a fellow reporter and jamming my phone in between my teeth to try and keep up with the action, but it was worth it when the team poured onto the pitch in sheer jubilation as the final buzzer sounded. Although we all knew in our hearts that Roses was lost, the win staved off the bitter feeling of defeat for just a little while longer.
But ultimately, everyone is right about away Roses. The visiting side will always be at a disadvantage. Half the teams turn up to their fixtures with severely damaged spines and some form of hypothermia after camping out in lecture theatres (read: igloos) for the night.
The lack of sleep and the severe irritation that comes with said lack of sleep is highly detrimental to physical activity. I severely regret not bringing a pillow and I fear my neck will never recover.
One day, we’ll go to Lancaster and we’ll win. We’ll return in 2016, on the back of another home win no doubt, and we’ll once again camp down on despicable floors and retain an eternally optimistic disposition.
But if wouldn’t be Roses if you didn’t care. Even if it hurts, and even if you lose – you still care.