Well what can I say. They started with the mind games four days early. They couldn’t possibly raise a team to play at the scheduled venue, Lockwood Park. The fear had clearly got to them. However, they could raise twenty players if we went to them? So rather than lose the fixture, after a two week rest period, we went to see what luxury palacial stadium awaited. Jose Mouriniho doesn’t have to put up with this! The mind games continued by trying to pretend their club house was a pub 2 miles away from the pitch. A blatant attempt to sabotage our world renowned warm up.
So on a cold blustery day on a remote mountain top in South Yorkshire we finally arrived to see what they had up their sleeves. They didn’t even have sleeves. A big bunch of players, clearly used to the sub-Arctic temperatures. It was a slopey windy pitch but the footing was good, so not a bad place to play in early March. They looked to have the experience and we’ve had a few hard games up here before, so we were ready for a hard game.
We had come prepared with every forward available and a pack that weighed in around a hundred kilos heavier than any the first XV had managed to field ever since Rawsy and Banksy had retired. We had the two giants in Gav Rhodes and Pete Hampshire. Justin who looked like the giant that ate both Jack and the entire beanstalk. Ryan looking tiny in comparison at a mere 6’4”. Then there was myself at 6’2” and Leighton at 6’1” and 15/16ths. We had the usual front row and we were good to go. The backs although slightly under strength were still pretty strong with Giblin back in the preferred 10 shirt, freeing Parry up to play fast and loose in the centre.
The warm up wasn’t as bad as normal and things were shaping up nicely. A choice of three different dart throwers. The regular Cooky, Blakey and Alaistair Braidley back from tax dodging at Nottingham Trent. Looking very dashing in his Mrs’ head band, which matched her thong he was concealing under his shorts. Put it simply we were ready to go to man town! Even if Alasdair had not been correctly ‘briefed’ what that meant!
I won the toss, something I’m hitting a very high percentage at. Almost as high as Parry’s alleged kicking percentage. I elected to play uphill with the wind in hope of a wind change to play downhill with the wind in the second half to really get the fat boys rolling on.
The game kicked off and a couple of decent return drives by Pete then Ryan looked promising, ’til a ruck infringement gave them the pill. They came at us but after a big shot, their lad was held up long enough for Parry to rip the ball and make a half break, passing to Cadogan who made thirty yards before neatly linking up with Jamie Lynn to score. We received again this time Hampshire making a spectacular 50 yard break and continuing straight over the full back for the try. Next up was Ryan to score 10 yards left of the posts when he looked like he might be tackled, produced a perfect pirouette for the touchdown.
20 minutes gone and time to make some changes Rhodes on at 8 for Hampshire, I came off for Pringle, Craig came on for Leighton, then Alaisdair on for Blakey. They had some pressure but Alaisdair looked dashing and dashed through for a couple of half breaks. Rhodes unleashed some punishment, especially in defence. We had strength in depth, nah, make that weight. Our pressure showed and Leighton burst through for a try. Eddie also showed his pace to scythe through under the posts.
By half time we were up 35-0. I was not happy about the rucking, so the riot act was read. All useless, lazy cowards would be subbed for all forms of laziness and cowardice. More subs were made and we went to war, Lyonsy should have gone to passing practice!
We looked very strong with some colossal tackling coming from the forwards. It began to take its toll and their injuries began to mount. Then came the fall of the mighty Aberdeen Angus he limped off the field collapsed onto his back and announced he was seriously injured. I asked if he was definitely done for the day then. He replied I might be alright in ten minutes, he’d clearly pulled a spare tyre.
Leighton looked sharp in attack making a series of breaks utilising his step and strong handoff. Me, Gav and some of the big forwards preferred playing ‘sit down’, they were good at sitting down when we ran at them! Alas the points slowed in the second half as the ref decided to penalise us more. Including four attacks from the backs where Lyonsy was deemed to have thrown a forward pass, at least two were not forward. However, as we all know for 80 minutes we are at the mercy of the god like referee, and not all refs are always favourable.
Ten minutes into the second half the backs did get away with Lyonsy putting Cadogan in for a thirty yard dash for the try. We were all very impressed, even the Ref managed to accept it was a flat pass. Then with 15 minutes to go we attacked. Harry fired it to Giblin, who attacked the line with Leighton screaming for the inside pass. I was on Giblin’s outside and had called a late pop. Leighton naively ran his line, Giblin put me very neatly through the hole and I ran for the line with just the full back to beat. So I stepped right and threw a pass to the reformed Jamie Lynn. It wasn’t a great pass. Just above the knees. He has no idea what the bread basket is, he complains if it goes near his face, hits him in the chest, goes near his crotch and has been known to slap the ball away if it goes to his hands. But not today he stooped slightly, caught it neatly and ran it in from the 20m line. The crowd all sighed ‘What a guy’! I don’t know what’s changed but he’s actually showing improvement. We’ll done lad! Now if you can just stop snitchin’ you might be a respected member of the team….
We attacked again and after a few strikes Ryan went through but the full back clung to him like a wet tissue flapping about on the bottom of your shoe. He had support on his left and I caught the lovely flick and scored under the posts from around 15m. This was too much for them to bear and the four remaining players called it a day with ten minutes still left on the clock.
They all limped off the pitch after getting a hefty nilling! This is how rugby is supposed to be played. You simply apply the pressure until your opposition literally break. A great performance, a great result, a great team! We are the mighty fighting A-Team, the best team in history. We go out chasing glory, and we bring home victory!
A special thank you to our immense travelling fans. Adam who intended to play but sadly failed a fitness test in 1997, so had to pull out half way through the warm up. Paul Giblin, with his outstanding knowledge of how the game should be played, the ‘Extra C’ way! Sophie Shiel, Joes long suffering wife. Then there was was Peter Braidley who swore to make a come back before the end of the season. Last but certainly not least Alaisdair’s lady friend you seemed lovely and was well dressed apart from her missing thong.
Jamie Lynn x2