Friday night rugby could be a winner
FRIDAY night rugby is up and running at the Cornish Pirates and already they have set the bar high.
It has been a subject which has divided opinion since being announced forcing some to give up watching home games, but I heard no complaints after the opener and that in Cornwall is quite something.
All too often last season I left the Mennaye Field to the distant sounds of a few hardy souls singing in the chilly beer tent and the hollow chimes of plastic beer cups being blown around the ground.
It was as sad as it was desolate but last Friday night there was a party in full swing in the new marquee and times, it seems, could be a-changing.
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Josh Lewsey and his team have worked tirelessly all summer to put the Pirates back on the map and they deserve huge credit for delivering on a night when the old ground was finally bathed in light and a good sized crowd was entertained.
Hiring Kernow King to act as guest compere for the evening was a smart move, as was booking a band to play live.
The half-time Strongman Challenge was as inspired as it was simple to stage and grabbed the attention of the audience, while the new catering facilities served good food and nobody fell out over the change in pasty supplier.
The upgraded PA system meant that most of the ground can now actually decipher the messages coming through the speakers, although the choice of pre-match music initially worried me.
As Eva Cassidy warbled at full pelt on the border of Penzance and Newlyn, I was starting to look for a comfort blanket and a pillow. The Monkees then intervened before AC/DC came to the rescue and the atmosphere began to build.
Safety lighting around the ground is another issue the club need to address before Leeds come to town on September 20 but I am told that this is in order and to be honest is easily fixable. Let us hope so.
The biggest challenge facing the club now, however, is to ensure that this 'matchday experience' consistently delivers with fresh impetus and new ideas.
Kernow King won't be available every week and the Strongman Challenge, as good as it was, will become boring if trotted out during each half time break.
If things go stale the punters will vote with their feet and it was great to see so many new faces and many younger fans among the crowd.
The test is now to bring them back for more and keep hold of them.
With Josh Lewsey moving to bigger things in Wales, the board of the Cornish Pirates are under pressure to make sure that standards do not slip and that the club keeps moving forward. It is a big challenge but a good one to have.
It is often said that you only get one chance to make a good impression and the Cornish Pirates, a club I have criticised in the past, delivered in a big way here.
If the backroom team keep their collective foot on the gas and those many paying customers who clearly enjoyed Friday night go out and spread the word, the Pirates could really be on to a winner with their floodlit rugby.