Rod Stewart FC is a totally free Fan Club dedicated to celebrating the life and works of Rod Stewart, with A Nod And A Wink To The Faces. We are an online community of like
minded people from all walks of life who have a good time. Over the last fifteen years we have had numerous social events, including our Annual Big Weekend which attracts fans from all over the
world to party to the music of the great man, and raise money for charity in the process.
We are proud to have Rod's sister, Mary Cady as our Patron and to be acknowledged by Rod as...
THE RSFC 2017 BIG WEEKEND TEAM...
RSFC’ BIG Weekend 2017 Tour diary by Antonio España...
11 hours flight with an empty seat besides mine was a blessing, and dealing with the immigration officer at Heathrow Airport was quick and easy as usual for mexicans at an european airport. Long ride to Kings Cross tube station, quick walk enjoying the London cold wind to Euston train station and got my train tickets sorted, left my luggage in custody for 3 hours and once feeling safe about the train tickets, tried my best to enjoy my free 3 hours in London. Went to Bayswater just to find that the Italian restaurant where I had the best pizza ever back in 2013 is now a franchise, but still they do good decent pizza. Bought the classic souvenirs and didn’t had time for a quick photo by the Palace of Westminster (AKA Big Ben) so I headed back to Euston using different route, and still find it difficult to get sorted in the complicated labyrinth the tube stations could be for a tourist – but my ignorance and my tourist condition are always the perfect alibi to talk to the beautiful London women asking for directions, and they all are always willing to help a tourist in trouble, always with their big beautiful smiles.
Got my luggage back and went out for a smoke while the display board announced the platform where my Virgin Train will depart and found out that my old Nokia had signal and the name of a british cellphone network on display, so I tried to call Ian Roberts and bingo!! my always trusty prepaid Nokia was working fine in UK soil. The Self-service cashier machines at the convenience store caught me by surprise when I wanted to buy a couple of coca cola bottles, but a nice lad at the store walked me trough the process in order to complete my payment on the self-service machine.
The platform and the train itself were far larger than I expected, and the platform area was certainly less tidy and fancy than I expected. Train seats were confy, and again had empty seat by my side. Got window seats for the ride, unfortunately due to the season it was already dark at 8pm and there was nothing but darkness to see during the 90 minutes ride to Birmingham.
Birmigham station change of platforms sorted, and London Midland train was not as fancy as the Virgin one – certainly the people traveling on that one was not what I expected, mostly people from Africa who still speak in their native language and didn’t look so friendly. I forgot to print the calling stations on that route and the audio quality of the announcements were terrible, and with a guy speaking loud on his phone and a woman with her screaming daughter around me made the task of keep track of the calling station difficult – but then I saw a british girl who looked friendly few seats ahead, so I asked how many stations left for Bescot Stadium. “5 more” she said, so I counted to 5 and finally arrived to Bescot Stadium Station. Baleful, dark and cold, so british… and there were Ali and Ian, supposedly hiding to surprise me but I noticed Ian’s belly from a mile away.
Just few times in my life I’ve felt the warm and love and friendship feeling I felt when I finally got to hug them: Ali was the very first british Rod fan I ever got in touch with back in 2008, trough MySpace (anyone remember MySpace??) and after Ian asked me to be part of the RSFC Team to handle the videos and related stuff it has been a hell of a ride, and it was fantastic to finally meet face to face to these lovely people who have trusted me during all these years.
Check in at the Park Inn and my room was great – wanted to have a quick shower before meeting everyone else, but just couldn’t wait: finally meet Gary Jones and Dave Reddy, after years of working close with them putting together DVDs and CDs for the merch stall. Gary Price after being exchanging ideas and concepts for the RSFC themed promo videos, and also got to meet Jan Morley and Sean Doran’ lovely sister – they all made me feel very welcome, it was like if we have seen each other just a week ago.
Friday morning went to the Farm Foods grocery store to buy snacks for in-between scheduled meal times (I’m used to have small snacks all the time and can’t go to bed if I haven’t got anything to eat at least 15 minutes before) and found some delicious meatballs and cheese, so my coca colas ( a 6 pack for 2 pounds? fantastic!!!) and then the day was basically set up at The Saddlers Club, helping as much as I could on putting up the Rod posters and the flags on the walls (yeah, the Mexican flag below the RSFC flag was my idea) and helping here and there, always having a great laugh with everyone - then back to the hotel for lunch and meet with more fellow rodettes and rodders, including fellow RSFC’ Team members David and Sean. Louise gave a cushion with a photo of J’anna, what a treasure!! It’s funny how everyone knows my true admiration and love for J’anna. Meeting Helen Clowes at last was marvelous, what a lovely human being she is. Special mention to her young daughter Elaine, who unfortunately couldn’t attend but she send to me a pack with beautiful presents (the frame is already hanging at the living room, all my family loved it).
Went upstairs to have a much needed shower after being working on the set up, and Mary came out from the elevator. I froze. No words came out. Just stood there paralyzed. Then Mary noticed there was a guy frozen and gave me a gentle smile, and finally I found words to introduce myself: “Nice to meet you Antonio, thank you for all the work you do” she said. Got into the elevator and a tear came out, I just needed a smoke and went back outside to have my much needed nicotine shot to touch ground again.
The atmosphere at The Saddlers was fantastic, and Martin’ band were awesome: they did an amazing performance, which by the way I’m listening now as I’m writing this. It was fantastic to finally see the DVD’s I’ve put a lot of effort on producing being displayed at the merch stall (BTW the 2 new collections I made for this year were sold out, thanks a lot to everyone who bought them!!), and took a lot of photos of all the items displayed. For the after party at the hotel I was very tired, so I barely stayed there and went to sleep.
Saturday went again for snack supplies for the day and finally got to meet Ian Logie, what a shame that he couldn’t stay due to an emergency he had at home. Since there wasn’t much to do at The Saddlers during the day I had couple of additional hours of sleep, and then headed to the much anticipated soundcheck of Cregan and Co. It was unbelievable!! Jim Cregan setting up his own gear, and then I asked Gaz to introduce me to Jim. “I came all the way from México to see you, you were my hero when I was a kid” I said. “well, we better be good tonight then” he replied. Then once they all had completed their setup and their monitors were tuned, they started a jazzy improvisation which blew my mind, I just couldn’t believe how a great band they are, and couldn’t believe how lucky and blessed I was for being there, having they playing their fantastic music just for me and Gaz and Dave and DJ. When they left the stage I went up to take a photo of Jim’ pedals set up, and it was surreal to be standing in the precise spot he will later be at, playing the riffs that made me a Rod fan when I was a kid.
When I got back to the hotel unfortunately I’ve missed Peter McCall performance, wish I were able to split in two so I don’t miss anything.
Saturday night, new faces around: some people only attends on Saturday in order to see Cregan and Co. a minute before they hit the stage I went to the front of the stage, right infront Jim’ spot. When he came out he noticed me and shaked my hand, lucky me Dave Reddy got that magical and incredible moment on video. Annette Porter told me “do you need a pinch? It’s real, you can touch it” and I thought to myself that I wouldn’t dare to touch him with my dirty humble hands. First 2 or 3 songs I was static just watching Jim’s hands playing, 1 meter away from me – can’t get any closer. I was delighted and fascinated watching his fingers dancing over the strings, pure magic.
At some moments my brain made tricks, and I was seeing Jim with his ginger/blonde curly almost afro hair, as he had it back in the day when I was just a kid on the other side of the world watching Young Turks, Tonight I’m yours, Sexy and Passion videos on TV. Barely got conscience to reach my camera and get video mostly of the guitar solos (which BTW turned out very good videos!!) and lot of times noticed my tears rolling down my cheeks. Amazing musicians making justice to the songs which have been the soundtrack of our lives, and if that weren’t good enough, on those magical moments I was surrounded by 3 top beauties: Annette Porter, Janet Elizabeth and Julie Cartwright – couldn’t be any better!!! Then the much anticipated Passion: I’ve heard bits of the version they do and heard comments about how great it was, so I was so looking forward to it – and it was far better than I expected!! Weird as I am, took video of Jim’ foot while he was working his magic with the sustain pedal for the first chords. Then an instrumental bridge which ran from sweet to frantic fierce, simply sublime. Heard that I was like possessed during Passion, there is even a short video of me during the song. Sweet little rock’n’ roller wasn’t written on the setlist, but when I saw a photo of Chuck Berry with the “RIP” legend at the video screen, Chuck’s death caught me by surprise and understood why they were playing it, last minute addition. It will be a funny thing to remember: “What were you doing when you knew about Chuck Berry’ death? Well, was in England watching Jim Cregan playing Sweet little rock’n’ roller”. After they did their final bow, Jim shaked my hand again and gave me his guitar pick.
When Jim came out to have photos with us, I was the first in the line. He signed the artwork I’ve made and finally got my photo with him: a dream came true at last, a perfect night beyond words.
At some point there was a photographer from a local newspaper, and he got a great photo of Elizabeth Klaes, Paolo Vecchi and myself which actually made it on the newspaper.
This time I was able to make it for a couple of hours at the after party at the hotel, fun
On Sunday paid a visit to the local street market by the parking lot area of the stadium, and among all the clothes and various stuff available I ended up buying connectors and bridges for RGB LED strips which are somehow hard to find in México… go figure.
On Sunday fancy dress night the set up and deccor at the Saddlers changes into a surprise theme, so again I helped as much as I could on the new set up, which is intended to keep secret until the doors open. Then we had a group photo of the RSFC team, I was so looking forward to it – it will be framed at my living room, one of the proudest photos I will ever have. Also managed to have a Stewart’s family photo signed by Mary, what a treasure.
In order to keep my luggage light I didn’t had anything for the fancy dress night, but lucky
me I had a present from Elaine (Helen’ daughter) which was a lovely Scottish hat with ginger hair, so I combined it with my RSFC scarf. Once at the party I ended up wearing Elizabeth’ attire of a
royal guard, and got few great photos with Ali who was wearing that uniform also.
For the third consecutive night I didn’t won anything on the raffles and of course I didn’t have the funds to bid on the auctions, but ended up assisting DJ with the auctions showing the items trough the tables – guess I got a new job to do next time I attend a BIG Weekend.
I’ve never been a dancer, but being among people dancing to Rod songs you just can’t help it. That being said, is not hard to imagine that I absolutely suck at dancing a slow song close to a woman, I just don’t have the rhythm it takes on my two left feet. But sometimes you just have to get things done because it’s a matter of life or death, and when the very Rod Stewart’ sister raise her arms to you requesting your companion to dance “Friend for life” you just have to dance… so I did. When we finished I offered my excuses to her saying that I am the only Mexican in the planet who just can’t dance, and she laughed. Once the party was over I said goodbye to Mary, and she told me that I had to “save my pennies” so I can make it to the BIG Weekend next year.
Monday morning at 5:50 am I was already at the train station; when I arrived to Birmingham I
finally understood how the “Platform1/Platform 1A/Platform1B” thing works, and this time I had the chance to admire the beautiful landscape on my way back to London and arrived on time at Euston
station. Wind was coldest than in previous days, and I truly enjoyed the 4 blocks walk to Kings Cross tube station in that lovely cold environment, also it’s always a pleasure to walk London streets
filled with the most beautiful women in the planet.
Again a 1 hour ride to Heathrow and made it safe and sound exactly 3 hours in advance, the way I like it. Foggy, windy and cold morning at Heathrow, only a nicotine addict like me could be outside on those conditions having a smoke. “Sir, you have chosen the seat 53G way in the back – but I have 30C available… and the 30B is empty” the lady at British Airways desk told me. “Tell me, that 30B is available for sale right now, so maybe nobody will buy it?” I asked. “Yes Sir, it might end up empty” so I accepted her suggestion. Once inside got a nice posh breakfast and spent my last coins on couple souvenirs and treated myself with a nice pair of Sennheiser earphones which I wouldn’t ever buy if I see them in México (it’s easier when you see them for 20 pounds in England than when you see them at half your weekly payroll check in México) and boarded with plenty of time. Seat 30B turned out to be the only empty seat on the 747, so again I couldn’t be luckier. Barely slept during the calm flight, and when I arrived to México I went home, dinner, shower and straight to work to cover my regular shift at 11pm… and The BIG Weekend was gone.
It was amazing to meet everyone: it wasn’t a surprise that chemistry with people who I’ve been in close communication over the years was a natural thing, but I was amazed to discover how well did I got along with people who even being facebook friends for years without too much or even none interaction at all, a real sense of friendship and chemistry were developed instantly. My mates of the RSFC team made me feel so welcome and they all took good care of me, I have no words to describe how grateful I am for that much kindness.
If you haven’t attended a BIG Weekend, you certainly should: there you will live and understand why we always talk about our “Rod family” – that is exactly what we are.
I’ve been planning to save cash over the year in order to treat myself with a new computer build for next Christmas… but now I guess I will better try my best to attend the RSFC BIG Weekend 2018.
RSFC’ BIG Weekend: the grand-grand-grand-grand-mother of ALL Rod Stewart Fan parties.
Antonio with Auction Winner Paul Bent at the BIG Weekend Sunday night fancy dress...
The RSFC helping the RNIB at London o2
The RSFC lend the RNIB a helping hand at the Barclaycard Arena