Cleckheaton is a local club that fields three sides every week. Their players are hard, loyal and are masters of the dark arts. However you’ve got to admire the lads, they always come and they always get thrashed. Then they come again, a proper community club.
This week however some bugger had torn up the script. Our strong high scoring A-Team was down to the bare bones. We could only raise 18, at home that’s unheard of. Then with two cry-offs the night before, followed by two cry-offs two hours before kick off. Things were beginning to look grim.
There had also been a fight the night before on WhatsApp about the murder and pillage of the A-Team to support the Falcons. Irish had thrown his tiara, Gav had had to sit down, Shielsy came in swinging his handbag! It was all I could do to fend them off like Dartagnan with my feather duster! All just caused by growing pains. As the squads at Huddersfield grow year on year people are happy, but there’s also a natural ebb and flow in bleak winter through til spring. So I’d promised to support the Falcons up to a starting 15, as well as a shared bench. Yes, who’d have thought, I’m quite the diplomat! The problem being if you’ve only got 14 and you send two with the falcons then you’re a few down. So we started the game with 12, for anyone who knows the A-Team 12 against fifteen was hardly fair on the Cleck lads so they insisted on lending us two spies. Then they played with 15.
The game kicked off and we had our backs against the wall. Luckily they had a slow start and we managed to get the upper hand. Eddie Newman made a break and popped to Hinchliff who drew the last man and threw a lovely long pass for one of their spies to score for us in the corner. New sighting Glen Keogh stepped up and put the kick just wide. We then soaked up some more pressure before one of university prop Joe Hodgson’s drives was stopped just short of the line. The ref blew for the high tackle then removed all 15 of the Cleck lads from around Hodgey’s throat! The penalty try was awarded. Shortly after this though Glen Keogh made a surging run from full back but was tripped then collided with their 8’s knees. He wanted to stay on but the claret coming from his forehead persuaded the ref to end his afternoon.
Then came the fight back, Cleckheaton realised that we were massively under strength and actually got the crazy notion they might win! Their tails went up and they actually started to play some good rugby. They managed to score two tries and we were on the ropes. They then came a third time but a slightly wobbly last pass went into one of the Cleck spies hands who flew down the pitch to score for us. At this point I had gone from bad to worse, my bad shoulder was killing me, my worse shoulder wasn’t working much at all and I was in a bad way. So I sent out the call for the heroes to step forward. Duncan Cleave improved straight away. Eddie Newman started to play with some real confidence and flair and Andy Lyon rolled back the years and showed some real class at 10 in both attack and defence. But as the game went on we sadly concede two more tries to go down narrowly.
It was just one bridge too far. If we’d have had an extra player? If I was less broken? If we weren’t so severely hindered by the Cleck spies? Any of the above and we’d have won. Real men don’t have to win, they have to suffer, adapt and overcome. That’s what forms the iron bonds, that teams are made of. It’s not about how good you are but how hard you’ll fight not to let your mates down. Well done fellas.
Thank you to Cleck for lending us the players to get the game on. Glen is now eager to get back at it and he’s 5 stitches prettier. Andy Lyon was man of the match. Andy Madden’s throwing was pinpoint accurate! No matter where he was asked to throw it, he threw it straight to their front man! Joe Hodgson had the day of his life! Well right up until his quite frankly abysmal attempt at doing the boot!