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Matchday is about more than 80 minutes

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Turning up late for a match is like waking up late for school or sleeping through an alarm, it seems to affect the rest of your day, as if you are always playing catch-up for the time lost.  Talking of playing catch-up, The Tig managed to reach Sale Sharks in the nick of time for kick-off on Saturday in the opening game of the Kings of the North tournament after spending much of the day in traffic on the M6.   It is not the first time that particular motorway has played havoc with a Tigers trip to the North-West. On the occasion of the first trip to the Salford City Stadium, there were probably as many Tigers watching from coach windows on the flyover as there were sat behind the posts when the first whistle went.   This time, as in fact every time The Tig has been there, we flew as far as Keele Services, then watched paint dry on the M6 past Sandbach and Knutsford services. Arrival at the turnstiles came with exactly one minute to spare before kick-off at 2.30pm. It was probably only the amount of time it took to remove the 20-odd replacements from the edge of the playing surface that allowed the game to start after The Tig had found a vantage point.   Even after making it just in time and seeing every second of the action – and every one of the 50-odd players used in total by both sides – The Tig still had that uneasy ‘sleeping through my alarm’ feeling in the pit of the stomach. You know the one, the ‘did I lock the door’ thought when you’re at work or the ‘did I cancel the milk’ sickener when you’ve landed on foreign shores at the start of a holiday.   But The Tig actually HAD missed something. One of the joys of the game of rugby is being at a stadium early, home or away, having a good look around, sniffing out the memorabilia and the club shop, flicking through the pages of the programme, taking in some pre-match entertainment and the warm-ups, and having a chat with friends old and new. Maybe with a drink in hand. These days you’ve also got to find time for a selfie in front of the team or behind the posts, and of course there are legions of fans who want to get up close and personally pass on their best wishes the players – and their free advice to the referee.   It’s about more than an 80-minute game. Next weekend, at Welford Road, the action starts at 10am with Tigers In The Park. The alarm is on already. Tig In The Park starts early too.