My retrospective series on the best of the last year fittingly ends with the times I remember most fondly from the year. 2013 was a great year. After the turbulent year of 2012, when I left the safeties of secondary school for university, 2013 was rather more smooth sailing, and had some fond memories.
I thought I’d catalogue, as much for the benefit of my future nostalgia as anything else, the things that will forever send me back to 2013. This is the year that was:
County v Caley last game of the season
After what was a great season for Ross County, there was a slight, unfounded, disappointment that we wouldn’t qualify for Europe. There was no right to be – having just been promoted from the lowly First Division; however, the last game of the season still shaped up to be the most intense of the entire campaign – as we faced our rivals Inverness Caley Thistle in Dingwall. They still had a shot at reaching Europe, something they would never let us forget if they had managed it, and had been unbeaten against us in our previous six encounters that season.
Caley fans descended on Dingwall with beach balls, heralding what they thought would be their inevitable triumph. Thankfully, after a fantastic game, they were proved wrong. Both sides played a great game, but County were on top through most of it. Canadian defender Andre Hainault struck around 60 minutes into the game to send us all wild. It was the last game for many of our longest-serving players, such as Paul Lawson, Iain Vigurs and (so we thought) Richard Brittain, which served to make an emotional occasion even more so.
Winning against your rivals is a feeling that County fans hadn’t had in a while, and it was a great way of ending arguably our best ever season. It was made all the sweeter by the Caley fans celebrating the goal of the wrong team in the St. Johnstone v Motherwell match, a game which saw the Saints qualify for Europe at Caley’s expense. At the end of the game, beach balls were left on the pitch to the mercy of the wind. I managed to keep one as a memento of a match I’ll remember for a long time.
Finishing first year
First year was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed university, but finishing first year was definitely a highlight. After months of hard work, and then three weeks of exams, the day of my last exam was a great relief.
It was a lovely sunny day as I woke up for the last time in my room in Johnson Halls. I went to my exam, taken on a computer in a cramped classroom, and then strolled leisurely through the beautiful campus before making my final packing arrangements. Although getting from the university to the train station was a bit tougher than usual, taking a great deal of possessions with me, it made it all the sweeter that it would be last one I’d have to take for a while. A long and eventful summer opened up ahead of me.
I wondered when I had my last day of sixth year whether that feeling of the last day of school would exist at all beyond then. It returned joyfully on the last day of first year.
What a holiday that was. After spending the best part of nine months away from my best friends, reuniting and travelling to Kavos in Greece was fantastic. As someone who loves the sun, being abroad for the first time in three years was enough to make it one of the best weeks in the year. But there was so much more to enjoy about Kavos.
Spending half our time in The Barn, a bar across from our hotel, drinking beers, playing FIFA and pool, generally trying to extinguish the hangover from the night before, was the perfect relaxation needed after a year of work.
The nights out were amazing. I think most of us would agree the paint party on the first night was the best. From there we alternated between nights of relative quietness, playing hysterical games of cards before going out, and huge nights out in the clubs of the strip. We went go-karting a few times, leaving me with a physical reminder of the holiday in the way of an exhaust burn. We even went on a “crazy speedboat” to an inlet on another island closer to the mainland. It had beautiful, clear waters and a white sandy beach, the sort of thing most people holiday for.
Kavos was an amazing holiday, and I’ll be lucky to have another one as good for years.
It was a feature of the year before as well, but the pub quiz was an absolute staple of my summer. Every Wednesday night (when I was in the country), we’d go to The Mallard for our weekly night out. It didn’t matter that we had work the next day; we’d all have a great time just being together without drinking as much. Did we ever win? Not this summer while I was there. Did it matter? Not at all. There was something so nice about being with your friends at least once a week after not seeing them for a long time that made the Mallard quiz more special than just a night at the pub.
Another thing that was new for 2012 but returned for 2013 was working over the summer at TEFL. I loved working there; it was a perfect match of being close to where I live, doing a job that I enjoyed and having work colleagues who were as friendly and good company as you could want. We even had bacon rolls on Thursdays – what’s not to like?
I had a role in the changeover between the old TEFL England, TEFL Scotland and TEFL Wales into the new TEFL Org UK website. It was a tough and technical job at times, but I like to think that it was a success overall for both me and the company.
I also got to take part in a training weekend with Talent Scotland at the Fairburn Activity Centre, and despite my cynicism towards the general style of event, actually quite enjoyed my time there.
When you are younger, you’d hear people complain about work or say that you might not always be able to do what you want to be doing. I can’t ever say I ever felt like that working over the summer.