On a Friday night under the lights on the Field of Dreams, it was the setting for our first return fixture of the year. We had lost 35-5 away in our opening fixture of the season. So, we were inevitably out for revenge. We knew the Ossett men were good and had been eyeing up this fixture with glee for months. So, I tried to muster as strong a side as possible and even put my own name back on the team sheet. Back up to at least 40% fitness, after the shoulder dislocation four weeks ago. We had a few late cry offs but still managed to field a twenty three man strong team.
A surprise member was Damon Scholes back from Laund Hill after a short twenty year sabbatical. The big former Giants second row said,” It’s an absolute honour and pleasure to once again play for the right side of Huddersfield. It’s like stepping back out of the darkness into the light!” Never a truer word said. Scholesy also excitedly talked about his new contractual obligations with The A-Team. We also acquired a few lads who play mostly Falcons to give our back line a little more zip.
They warmed up properly, they were clearly not here to mess about. Cooky led our warm up, with Andy Lyon running the back line. I myself spent quite some time playing with a lacky band trying to get my shoulders in some sort of working order. We went back into the changing room for the final prep and inspirational abuse. I peeled off to see that the ref had finally arrived, with 8 minutes to spare before kick-off. I politely asked him if he’d like to delay kick off but he said there was no need. I told the lads to prepare for a hard game, fight for every Hinch! Also, to remember about these new low tackling rules, as every ref in the country would be giving at least one card for high tackling in the first half! So we prepared ourselves for war and took the field. The ref came out and we kicked off just fifteen minutes after the scheduled time.
They kicked off and Karl Haigh (Karlos) leaped and caught the ball above his head neatly, then charged up the field. Something he impressively did several times on the day! Clearly, he had learned something in his ten years as a truly awful Aussie Rules player! We applied pressure and before too long Andy Williams made a great break down the right hand side. He neatly went in and out of the last man to open the scoring. Charlie Foreman missed the conversion.
So, we kicked to them and the ball was fumbled after a few phases. At the first scrum the ref explained, that he was a 40 year old tight head prop and wouldn’t be taking any nonsense whatsoever! He gave Cooky and Karlos a bullocking, warning them if they didn’t pop their shoulders correctly then he would ruddy well do it for them! After resetting the scrum several times and educating the front row on exactly what he wanted, we eventually got on with the game.
They had a big mean pack and their vintage tight head was particularly tasty with a huge number eight and a few other decent forwards. They were very hard to deal with at the rucks and the scrums were definitely contested. They put us under quite a bit of pressure before we once again got the upper hand which led to a small amount of pressure. Andy Williams again broke with myself and Ollie Shaw in support, with just the full back to beat. The useless sod passed it to the wrong supporting player and I ran in next to Ollie as he scored the second try. Foreman this time slotting the conversion.
They kicked off and we began again but they were really coming at us now and the ref was leaning towards the way the big old dirty Ossett pack played. So, we were under the cosh. They gained a scrum twenty metres from our line….. yes, once again the ref started his instructions. However, what happened next was truly a sight to behold! He gave up on Cooky and simply packed down in our front row for a couple of scrums. Before telling Cooky who his Daddy was! The game commenced and they finally broke our line for a converted try.
Straight off the kick off, which Foreman hoisted into the stratosphere, I lowered my back accelerated and broke the catcher clean in two. The Ossett lads, were going crazy! Some sort of completely unreasonable complaint as apparently the catcher was still at least a foot off the ground when I hit him. The ref looked at me, I looked innocently at him, he smiled a huge smile and waved play on! My kind of ref, he’ll go far! Probably be doing the Six Nations next season.
We applied pressure and they kicked to touch. I called the line to be thrown to the front where the very competent Irishman, Craig Nevin, was winning. Karlos ignored the call, for a change he threw it down the middle of the lineout, well sort of, it bounced off the back of their props head. After the ricochet, it came to our side clipped off Cooky’s shoulder and landed behind our lineout. I reacted first, chased it down and set off across field, beckoning the backs to cut the line. But none came, so I threw an outrageous dummy and stepped through their line. Andy Lyon (Lyonsy) screamed he was in close support. Two tried to tackle me but just became entwined with each other. I accelerated, from 7mph to 8mph. Next was their covering scrum half so I stepped him and looked for Lyonsy, he was nowhere to be seen. So, I persevered, next came the full back and openside wing, I stepped them so well they tripped each other up, still no Lyonsy. Sadly, stepping left three times has its downsides. I had lost virtually all momentum and there was the nearside winger left to beat. So I feigned left, feigned right, feigned left again, the winger had developed roots by this point. Then threw a hanging ball to my right, after an eternity Lyonsy burst on to it and crossed for the try! The crowd went wild! Gav Rhodes, who was in his bar in Barnsley telepathically knew! He raised his glass of ale to the air, started doing the ‘Air Hoola Hoop’ and chanting ‘SNAKE HIPS, SNAKE HIPS, SNAKE HIPS!’ Rugby bonds transcend time and space! Me and Lyonsy jogged back past the huge ball of conjoined limbs that was all that was left of the Ossett defense. Foreman slotted the conversion.
They came back at us but butchered several chances before eventually scoring and missing the conversion. Ten minutes left of the first half, could anything of note else possibly happen? We gained some field position and exerted some pressure! Ollie Shaw picked up the ball and jumped out from the ruck threw a dummy and a step and slid very elegantly through the hole and ran in for the try! Just like I did except with more grace and pace. I clearly taught him something that day! Foreman once again kicked the conversion.
Two minutes left of the first half, could anything possibly stop us now? Oh yes, the team talk. ‘Sod’s Law’ is a mysterious thing but it was inevitable, the yellow card came out for the high tackle. You know who it was, Justin ‘Tyson Fury’ Brown at a mere 6’7” and 19 stone? Don’t be ridiculous! It was Ollie Shaw at a whopping 5’5”, he had to jump four foot off the ground to reach the other guy’s head but he’s quite the athlete! I warned him about the cards! I did, but it clearly went straight over his head! In reality, he never stood a chance the ref was a grisly old prop, and some young scrum half’s, running rings round old forwards, showboating and all the while supporting the most wonderful moustache! So off Ollie went! For The A-Teams only card of the season, must try harder boys.
Changes were made and the ‘Finishers’ were brought on. Among them were a few fan favourites, Steve Parry, who due to family commitments was only making his third outing of the season. Ryan Paige the large University tight forward, Levell Lewis and Oliver Smithies both lightening quick wingers that wished they could catch! Tannaj Simpson our new Jamaican signing plus Steve Blakey and fan AND bar favourite Joe Shiel to bolster the front row! They made a couple of changes, relieving their tight head for a younger model. However, the real game changer was Antipodean centre Nathan Lawrence. This lad has twenty seven tries in twenty two appearances for their first team. He’s about 6’1” and has 6’ muscles on his 6’ muscles. He was also like proverbial excrement off a shovel! Birchy get the cheque book out, Gaz Lewis will be trying to be sign him! So once again we had to go to work to defend our hard earned 26-12 lead.
It was a ruddy hard second half we threatened several times but each time we did, they seemed to upset us and they looked especially dangerous in the centre! Their ten was sitting in his Lazyboy in the middle of the field marshalling their attack and it was coming fast and hard over and over again. We were camped on our own line after some strong pressure and I told Tannaj (blindside flanker) to get across and flatten Nathan Lawrence. Tannaj at a mere 6’2” and 15 stone looked at me and his voice broke, went all squeaky and he replied ‘Na man, he is like massive’! Not the ideal response! They scored shortly after…. They missed the conversion.
Fifteen minutes left and I read the right act, borrowed some random stuff from the crowd, so I could throw it about for dramatic effect and told the lads to get heroic or die trying! So we attacked and we defended and they once again got the better of the exchanges. Even the ref falling out with their new prop, this time packing down for a couple in their front row, couldn’t stop them. So, with eight minutes to go our line once more broke and they scored the converted try.
Winning by five points seven minutes to go, they have an outrageously good centre playing, things were looking slightly worrying. So, we brought Scholesy on, always good to have a Laund Hill scapegoat on the field! Just ask Gaz Lewis, That’s probably why he signed Ed Barber! We gained the scrum and Parry wanted to kick long to pin them back, I over-ruled opting for an eight pick up for newly arrived Leighton Davis. Leighton was unavailable to play as he was working up north. He had however arrived considerably before kick-off and had been enjoying the game. Once he realised we might lose he stripped pitch side, mugged a sub of their kit and like a hero came on to win the game, what a guy! What a twot for not playing from the start! So, Leighton picked up, I followed and we controlled possession for a few phases until some half wit lost the ball! Time to throw the kitchen sink, but even that wasn’t enough, one of their backs broke the line and as he was pulled down just five yards from our line he managed the offload! Our hearts sank as their supporting man rushed over the line, only to drop the ball! The ref blew for full time and came to celebrate with us, after naming himself man of the match!
After the game we had a beer and set about the obligatory naming of the oppositions ‘Man of the Match’ and ‘Dick of the day’ I named their Lazyboy riding general as theirs, although their tighthead was great. No way I was giving it to Mr 27 tries! Tannaj won ‘DOD’ for complete cowardice in our hour of need. They elected yours truly as ‘MOM’ for that break. Plus, one of their own for ‘DOD’. So, four Warriors stepped up to drink the obligatory boot of Guinness. Once again the crowd sung my name but after I got down and turned around I was horrified to see that Tannaj was taking forever and neither of theirs had a prayer of even finishing this ‘Right of Passage.’ Shielsy started howling with laughter and chanting ‘Two nil to the champions’ so we all joined in! So that’s 2-1 on aggregate!
A great game, a poor drinking race, a grand fiesta for the crowd and a great night had by all.
Man of the Match Ollie Shaw
(myself according to them)
Great performances from Andy Williams and Charlie Foreman for their points and for keeping Nathan Lawrence off the score sheet.