The mighty A-Team got back to business against Keighley on Saturday. We once again honoured the Field of Dreams with blood and sweat. The weather was mild and overcast, ideal playing conditions and all set for a feast for the eyes. The crowd, fifty strong were present and eager in anticipation for the match to get started. Captain Cook was once again given the honour of leading the brave Huddersfield men out. Myself, out still struggling from a dislocated shoulder would have the joys of management. However this time was different, we had substitutes! Thousands of them! The first team don’t even have ten substitutes, the sheer logistics caused my tiny mind to go pyroclastic!
In our new look A-Team, we have seven students, two rugby league players and an academy player making his open age debut. Would they be any good? Would they run screaming away from the enemy? Or maybe just maybe some might become legends just like me! Well hopefully a lot better but one can only dream. Then there were our international players with James Giblin back from a long vacation in kangaroo land and Toby Walker back from the South Africa. Plus a few of the usual deviants. Could we manage to gel this group of a thousand parts into a dynamic team? I decided to start the students together at 10,12,13 (Bailey Hart, Andrew Jiri, Oliver O’Donovan) also Joe Hodgson at hooker. Hopefully, this would provide some chemistry (cannon fodder), then the tax payers could bring it home!
So we kicked off and the game was a mess to start off with. Their pack seemed to get the upper hand in the first five minutes and we were under pressure. A penalty was conceded and they converted it for three, from in front of the posts. We tried to go back at what was clearly a very cohesive Keighley team but sadly after eighteen minutes we conceded a try out wide after a couple of let offs. They kicked the conversion, 10-0 to the visitors.
Things were beginning to look grim, every great manager knows this might be the time to make a change. So this being myself and the A-team I decided that five substitutions should get the lazy bunch of useless so and so’s going! We don’t do anything by halves. So on went Ollie Shaw (9), John Keogh (11), Niall Phayer (8), Pete Hampshire (5) and Andy Lyon (7). That should surely sort it out. Almost instantly Leighton Davis made a break to score the try. Glenn Keogh kicked the conversion and we were right back in it at 7-10.
We reset and Toby Walker fielded the kick and charged it back, which he did effectively all day. A couple of rucks later there was a fumble and we went down for the scrum, only to realise that we were a flanker down. So I sent Joe Brown back into the fray. Slightly puzzled I looked around to discover that Lyonsy upon being told to go on had apparently replied ‘Nah mate, not till the second half.’ The level of professionalism in this outfit is most definitely in the highest echelon! The game went on with a new confidence and on thirty two minutes Leighton powered over after brushing off several defenders for his second. A fine try and duly converted by Glen Keogh.
The game was clearly beginning to swing in our favour. The half back partnership of Ollie Shaw and James Giblin was beginning to shine. Releasing powerful Jiri and O’Donovan in the centres who were making good ground. This culminated in Captain Josh Cook charging in from 8 yards out to get a Captains try, something which I’m sadly lacking this year. Taking fecking liberties, guess who’s going to be on the bench next week! Bailey Hart recently back on stepped up and kicked the conversion.
Sadly just before the break the Keighley lads had a positive spell and got over the line in the corner. They missed the kick but were glad of the five points.
So we went into the break 18-10 up. The game was in the balance and this is the time when great leaders make a difference so once again I broke and substitution records. Then it was time for the inspirational, tactical, high motivational speech. So I told them, ‘Don’t you dare lose this $%&&^£ game! I have loads of subs and I don’t know how to use them! But any shirking and you’ll be scrubbing latrines for a week!’ Then stepped back to let Captain Cook to try to top it, he didn’t stand a chance!
Keighley scored a try in the first thirty seconds of the second half! I don’t know what Cooky said but it must have been horrendous to undermine my wise words! They missed the kick from the corner and we went again. Then we clearly began to get the upper hand in the pack. The students started to tear it up! Fraser Salkeld (student, second row) scored on his debut. Bailey kicked the goal from straight in front and we were back on track.
It was ‘STANNY TIME’ so I brought on no-nonsense veteran Michael Stancliffe (12) and his son Archie Stancliffe (13, open age debut) to make history. Shortly after James Giblin showed several dummies and a step to cross from twenty five yards. Glen missed the conversion, claiming that he was a little out of practice. Only his second game in ten years. Well he better shape up! Its cut throat in this new era of substitutions! We had some possession thirty metres from our own line. We went wide, Giblin to, Big Stan to Little Stan who passed to Jamie Lynn and looped him! This made some space out of nowhere. Then he turned on the jet burners and showed electric pace to beat two before going in and out to go round the full back and score on his open age debut! The crowd were in shock. It just shone of pace, class and intelligence. Magnificent Stanny Boy! Glen missed the kick.
We thought it was all over then Fraser from sixty yards somehow went straight through the pack and through the scramble defence in a try which was almost as good! Glen kicked the kick and we finished the game as comfortable victors. All in all it was a spectacular victory, the best performance of the season. The crowd were thrilled and the bar was full. All this despite this half wit making a load of random substitutions.
A-Team 44-18 Keighley 3’s
Man of the match – Archie Stancliffe
Very strong performances from Fraser Salkeld, Oliver O’Donovan and James Giblin
Leighton Davis and Ollie Shaw were as good as expected.