The Secret Diary of a Competition Winner

They won 2 vip passes to the 4 day Move Festival featuring David Bowie, Paul Weller and New Order. Their hotel balcony overlooked the stage. They got drunk on free beer with John Lydon and Tim Burgess (pictured, left). This is their story and it's messy!

Wednesday, 10th July, 2002

[r-zone1]Dear diary, my name is Robert Parton and I never seriously thought for a moment that clicking my mouse on that ‘submit’ button on the Virtual Festivals website would lead to any of this. But there was the train ticket in my hand, with the words ‘First Class’ leaping off the surface. I arrived at London’s Euston station with my partner in crime, Gazz, at midday, and we headed to Manchester with a couple of the lads from Virtual Festivals. There was Steve, the boss, who started VF from his bedroom a few years ago (respect!) and his colleague Mike. I have never travelled first class before, but I highly recommend it. We started on the drinks trolley. Beers and chasers. Things were off to a flying start, and we all toasted Virgin Trains.

[l-zone2]After a short taxi ride from the station, we arrived at the hotel about 4pm, nicely warmed up for the weekend. It was the Official Hotel of Manchester United, apparently, and was about 4 miles from the festival site. There seemed to be a bit of a mix up, however, and we weren’t expected. Steve called the organisers and it turned up that we had been upgraded to a different hotel called the ‘Old Trafford Lodge’, which was situated right in the middle of the festival itself (woo hoo!). Better still, our balcony actually overlooked the stage and a crate of Stella had been left on the bed for us!

[r-zone3]The next couple of hours were spent sitting on the balcony, pinching ourselves whilst watching Suede and David Bowie performing in front of us, beers in hand. Suede were a little lacklustre for our tastes, but Bowie was pure class. A true legend, and an amazing show that took in all the classics, with a smattering of new songs, which fared surprisingly well.

[l-zone4]A few cans later, we decided to take a look round and ended up in the backstage hospitality bar (as you do) and started on the great buffet of food prepared for us, with another free bar (God bless Virgin Trains). Gazz suddenly froze, open mouthed, as he realised that Johnny Rotten was sitting a few feet away. Then Steve turned up and introduced us to Tim Burgess, who is one of my biggest idols of all time.
[r-zone5]I’ve heard that it’s often disappointing meeting your heroes, as they never live up to your expectations, but I can happily report that Mr. Burgess was every bit as cool in the bar as he is onstage. He looked the bollocks, too, and was very friendly, happily chatting with us into the small hours. Badly Drawn boy was also in the bar – and whilst I’ve never been into his music, he’s a sound bloke, and was as pissed as us!

This was a night I will never forget.

Before we continue the debauchery, I would like to send a heartfelt thanks to Sharon the hotel lady for all her help, Virgin Trains for the weekend of a lifetime and Steve Jenner from Virtual Festivals for making this all possible.


Thursday, 11th July, 2002
[l-zone1]Day two. We were up bright and early at 2pm today (yawn), but that didn’t stop us starting on the beers. After spending some time living it up on the balcony, we ventured back to hospitality, where they had set Playstations, and table football. ‘No Doubt’ were on today, and Gwen Stephani looked even more beautiful in the flesh. They played well too, and when Gwen ripped her trousers, that just topped it off.

[r-zone2]I had already seen headliners ‘Green Day’ play last year, but they were even better today. They love to play with the crowd and even got some kids onstage to play their instruments. Too bad I can’t play anything, otherwise I’d have been up there like a shot.

[l-zone3]After the show, we hit the backstage bar, where Steve from VF taught us some very entertaining, and lethal drinking games. Those Virtual Festivals boys sure know how to liven up a party. Before long, various members of Less Than Jake had also joined in, along with the bar staff, who had long since closed up (we had made sure to take a healthy supply of alcohol beforehand) and the fun carried on until the last man was carried out.


Friday, July 12th, 2002

[r-zone1]This was the day I had been looking forward to the most – Paul Weller, Ian Brown, Shed 7 –  my favourite bands. A little worse for wear after last night, we avoided the beers for a while, today. ‘Shed Seven’ put on a damn fine performance (despite what the VF crew say!), especially the end of last song, Disco Down, which they turned into an ‘I am the Resurrection’ style instrumental jam. The food so far has been the same every day (chicken and lamb kebabs and salad), and a little more of a variety would’ve been nice, but the free beer never gets boring.

[l-zone2]By the time ‘Ian Brown’ came on, the day just seemed to be getting better and better. A shame however, that ‘Paul Weller’ was such a let down. Don’t get me wrong I think he’s great but there was so much more he could have done. He didn’t even play any Jam songs. Liam Gallagher was hanging around, and we were expecting a collaboration, but it didn’t happen.

[r-zone3]So we retired to the bar, and got exceedingly drunk with Alan from Shed 7, who proceeded to stick an ice cube up Gazz’s arse [don’t ask -Ed] and teach us how to do “rolly polly’s” across the cricket ground outside. It was all starting to get messy now. One of the funniest moments was watching security turn Joe Strummer away from the bar, because they didn’t know who he was, whilst we just walked in and out as we pleased!


Saturday, July 13th, 2002
[l-zone2]Woke up ridiculously early today (about 9am) – feeling a bit low because it’s the last day, but the sound check by ‘New Order’ cheered us up – especially the rendition of ‘World in Motion’ which was absolutely dreadful. Nice to see they’re not morning people, either.

[r-zone1]Hospitality opens at about 4pm, so there was a lot of hanging around the hotel room today. There was nothing really to do until the gates opened. I felt so sorry for the first band ‘Hanky Park’; they had a crowd of about 20 people and had to put up with some twat shouting obscenities from our hotel. They braved the lot and went on, and they weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be.

[l-zone3]The ‘Doves’ played a blinder. Having their videos played through the giant TV’s was a nice touch. ‘Echo and the Bunnymen’ followed, and for and old band they proved they can still rock. The last act of the weekend was ‘New Order’. What a way to finish. I’ve loved ’em for years, so you can imagine how incredible it was to get to meet the lead singer Bernard Sumner at the after-show party later that night.

[r-zone4]A few of Steve’s drinking games later, Gazz and I staggered back to our room for 2 hours sleep and left Manchester the following morning. Back first class to London and the end of our adventure to Move.