Three referees, Paul Musgrave, Les Cash and Lewis Harrison, assembled in the unlikely surroundings of Dublin Airport to start our visit to Potomac. When we arrived in the US, the weather was very humid and 27C, challenging conditions for refereeing we thought. They were indeed challenging when we were picked up at 6.30am the next day in torrential rain and 10C, for the start of the Cherry Blossom festival. This was a tournament which included schools and colleges, male and female, all playing on six different fields both inside and outside of a race track. We all remarked how different it might be at home to get upwards of 100 young players to a tournament and ready to start at 8am! We all did 3 40 minute games on the Saturday, and Paul drew the short straw with 4 games on the Sunday, and needless to say, appreciated the rest day on Monday!
We were scheduled to also do matches every day from the Wednesday through to Saturday, but we negotiated an additional rest on Thursday. This was a particular relief as we had scheduled a walking tour of the Washington monuments that day!
During the week we did games at a number of private schools at Loyola, Georgetown, Landon and Gonzaga, where the standard of some of the sports facilities would put a small town to shame!
On the last Saturday, our final matches were the only senior games we had, though even then the weather intervened with Paul’s game location moving 30 miles! Les and Lewis managed to fit in a spot of plane spotting alongside their matches as they played under the flightpath of the National Airport!
Our hosts were extremely generous with their hospitality and their time, with a well planned roster for drivers, guides and events.
We stayed, and were made most welcome, firstly at Mike Burke’s house, as previous visitors have, but also with Leila True and her family, as she was closer to Baltimore for some matches. During our stay, we visited the Great Falls on the Potomac River, Manassass US Civil War battle sites, George Washington’s ancestral home, Mount Vernon, the Capitol Building, the Washington Monuments by day and night, and even had a private guided tour of the Udvar-Hazy air and space museum next to Dulles Airport, by a friend of Steve Verna, one of the Potomac officials. We also were taken to watch the ice hockey team, Washington Capitols play the New York Islanders, although the fact that this marked the end of the home team’s unbeaten streak may have been attributed to our attendance!
We also attended a social evening organised for our arrival, and a training night, led by Ken Fraine, and to which we contributed, which gave an excellent examination of the laws concerning touch, and in particular when the ball was or was not in touch!
Sadly, the weather never recovered from our arrival, so it was mainly quite cold and windy during our stay, not that that prevented all three of us from having embarrassing suntan red faces for most of the week! However, a constant source of amusement for Les and Paul was the fact that Lewis was underage by US law to drink, so had to be content with Diet Coke for most of the week!
What struck all of us was the keenness and enthusiasm for the game, the willingness to learn and the physicality of the contact, as well as the genuine warmth for our visit. As a group, we all enjoyed each other’s company, and are all very grateful to the Society for the opportunity to visit Potomac. We look forward to the return trip in October to welcome the Potomac visitors!
Paul, Les and Lewis.