When I left Dublin at the end of the summer last year it was with a heavy heart. Mainly this was due to having to say goodbye to the Crusaders AC crowd, as lovely a group of young people as I’ve known, together with their parents and the coaches. The bond was all the greater as we had all started out together only 12 months previously and had had some great times. However the sadness was tempered by the promise that I would come up from Waterford to coach some Saturdays, once things had settled down. That never happened – things didn’t settle down.
At least I could attend their little Christmas party in December couldn’t I? Maybe be a surprise Father Christmas? I flew back to Jersey the week before.
I shed a few quiet tears in the months that followed, once as I told a poor, unsuspecting ex-colleague as I told the story to her in the pub! I really needed to come back and get it out of my system and I resolved to do so after the Cork Marathon. I had set this as a target to focus on during some low times.
So, here I was standing trackside on Thursday evening waiting for everybody to turn up for training. How would this work out I wondered. I found out soon enough as I was engulfed in squeals and hugs by familiar figures, all a touch taller and stronger than when I’d last seen them. I can’t list everybody for fear I’d miss one or two out. But it was fantastic and we went on to have a slightly chaotic javelin/shot session. Coaches and a few parents too.
On Saturday it was slightly less chaotic but today I was able to meet Moira my fellow founder–coach, and club stalwarts Jim O’Neill and Larry Ryder (stalwarts of the senior Crusaders club formed in 1942.) After javelin & discus there were more hugs and I said goodbye once more. Strangely enough I remained dry-eyed throughout. Though everyone talked of meeting again the reality is that it probably won’t be soon. For me it was, in fact, probably a necessary closure.
But I feel privileged to have known such a genuinely nice crowd of people, young and old, and I wish them all success and happiness in the future.