What on earth could possibly go wrong?

6 Apr 2018 1:00 PMMike Bennett
What on earth could possibly go wrong?

That was the question our theatrical director asked before the 'fortunate 400' of us played the part of 'athlete' as part of the dress rehearsal for the Commonwealth games opening ceremony. . .

Having watched the Saturday night rehearsal and commenting on the fact that the parade of athletes was looking rather low on numbers, I had to do a double take when I received an email asking for volunteers to fill some spaces on the Monday night rehearsal. Despite my best efforts to persuade the current Mrs B to apply with me (she muttered something about one show off in the family being enough before continuing to browse the Facebook volunteers official page!) I was set to fly the flag (or not as the case may be) for the 'only non drinking Scotsman in Queensland team'.

My heritage is relevant here as you'll discover shortly. I didn't think any more of it until a follow up email arrived the next day with the 'congratulations, you're in!' message attached. Now I'm very fortunate to have had some considerable stadium experience in a 'previous life' working as an infield speedway presenter back in the day both in the UK and here in Australia.

One of the biggest crowds was at the Brisbane Exhibition speedway in 1988 when I was one of about 10 Brits in a stadium that had 25,000 enthusiastic Australians ready to watch the international test series with the British touring team. That was nerve wracking enough but at least I had some level of control with a mic in my hand. This one was different and I can't describe what an honour it was to be a part of this parade. As a relative newcomer to Australia (having settled here less than 4 years ago) to be given such an opportunity was simply a once in a lifetime experience and as we waited to be allocated our 'team' for the parade I just remember telling one of my fellow 'team mates' Jamie that I didn't mind representing ANY team. . .apart from England as that would upset any remaining Scottish friends that I still have.

The young lady with a clipboard came up to us and said "You'll be representing Jersey and they only have 2 people in their team" so one of you will have to carry the flag. I nominated Jamie! As we approached the entry to the stadium, clip board lady returns to say 'forget what I told you, you're not Jersey any more. You'll be part of that large group in front of you representing WALES". 

"Sorry, did you just say WALES? But I'm a Scotsman, I can't represent WALES for goodness sake.                      Can't I defect to one of those countries that you made up for the competition . . .what? We're on?

OK Bloody WALES it is then!"

To walk on that beautiful track in front of around 17,000 people was amazing and this really was the ideal start to our games journey. After a quick lap we were escorted to our ground level seats and managed to grab seats on the very front row to watch the 2nd half of the show.

I have to admit, I was hoping for a guest appearance from Kylie and perhaps John Farnham but the performers who were there did a brilliant job. We were able to see first hand the incredible amount of work that had gone in to the show and all of the participants, backstage crew and Gold Coast  lifesavers deserve credit for keeping things moving.

With just a few days until my first reporting shift at Oxenford Studios boxing venue, it gave me enough time to recover from being a part of team WALES. . . and to prepare for the next part of this unique experience!