Super show by the A Team
At last the mighty A-Team were back in action on Saturday against the Wakefield based Stanley Rodillians. I knew that they had been struggling for players and they were likely to be a weaker side. That information is helpful but also deceiving. At this inter-Galactic level you just never know who your going to be lining up against. We did however have a great advantage. Playing at home on The Field of Dreams at Fortress Lockwood is a very daunting prospect for most sides. We had struggled for numbers in the days leading up to the game. Darren ‘Irish’ had been offered a first team contract due to his outstanding recent performances and a fantastic write up. Who knows, maybe, the pen is mightier than the sword, but I’m not one for hippie nonsense! Leighton Davis was keeping him company. Joe Shiel was unavailable due to having a bad back so was recovering in the pub. Danny Brough was away on yet another exotic holiday, this time in Scarbados. Sadly, Andy ‘Aussie’ Maden has joined the disabled community awaiting a cancer diagnosis so he will probably have to sit out the rest of the season. We love you brother, get well soon. He is however looking forward to having his own personal car parking spot right next to the club. I had a heart to heart with him during the week. I’m known for my extremely high emotional intelligence. I told him it wasn’t great but not to worry as he’d be fine, as only the good die young. So, by that logic we were both immortal!
I’d also had a phone conversation with Karl Haigh regarding the upcoming Tour to Dusseldorf. The line had been bad. He’d said he was a bit busy…..He was underneath a ……bar maid……she was……doing a proper job…….too busy to chat. He rang me back and when I explained what we’ had appeared to say, he burst out laughing and said there was nothing untoward happening. That the Dusseldorf Tour was all coming on nicely and that he was a respectable man these days.
The weather was cloudy and the light was already fading as the sun threatened to drop below the legendary Lockwood Park Arches. The weather was dry but the ground was soft. We had a very simple plan. Destroy them up front, only going wide when the inevitable overlaps opened up. We warmed up reasonably well and Ben Royds looked handy in the lineout where he was becoming renowned. The backs led by in form 10 James Giblin, looked reasonable but every forward knows they’re only here to kick the conversions and make the numbers up anyway!
The ref had travelled down from Laund Hill, never a good omen! Worst still he knew several of our lads and was jokingly promising them all yellow cards, not ideal! Then the reffin’ situation went from bad to worse, he was being assessed! This completely throws ref’s off and can completely destroy our beautifully elegant style of play! It had all the markings of a Sin Bin party! I gave them some inspirational stuff about our fallen comrade from some third world country in the antipodese and told them to do it for Aussie! Plus, severe fines for any yellow cards!
We received the ball and played towards the arches. That’s right Toby Spooner, it’s really not hard to win the toss, especially when you’re revered as a world class tosser. I just don’t know how he keeps losing! It’s not like it’s a game of chance! Josh ‘Cooky’ Cook caught the kick off and we went to work. Within no time we were in their 20m and Giblin hit big Jamie Rhodes who broke a tackle, then did a slow motion side step and somehow cut clean through their defence with glacial precision! Everyone could see what he was doing but no one could stop the 20 stone number 8! Charlie Foreman kicked the conversion and after a mere 3 mins we were 7-0 up.
I called for composure and we put a lot of pressure on the visitors. Some strong running from Niall Phayer followed by some excellent scrummaging turned the screw and on 13 mins they had a scrum 10m out from their line. The front row surged forward and the scrum was urgently heeled out of back of their scrum. Their 9 threw a panicked pass to their 10 which missed and Giblin dived on it for the try. Forman missed the conversion from the left touchline. 12-0.
For the next 5 mins it was Stanleys turn to get some momentum and we got pinned back in our 20m. Our scrum and the front row once again took the upper hand, the ball was thrown back to ever reliable 15, Toby Spooner. Spooner kicked long but was charged down by their 13 and they stole a try. What a plonker! A bit more urgency Spooner! Conversion missed, 12-5.
For the next 10 mins we got the lions share of the possession with Royds taking a steal on the lineout and myself and Niall making powerful drives up the middle. It culminated in our scrum in front of the right post 10m from their line. The pack could only takes 90% of the way as its not wise to try and scrummage straight through a post! We got the shove on and Jamie Rhodes picked up from 8 and charged for the line. It took 3 men to stop him but then both our flankers smashed the mass of bodies and Rhodes rolled out to our left and crossed the line. Foreman converted. 19-5
On 38 mins they had us pinned back and Ben Royds under pressure could only tap it back our way in the lineout. I reacted first and swept it up. Drove forward 5m then landed funny. So, I instinctively rolled to present the ball but as I did a heavy player flopped on me and I found myself upside down with my neck in a very precarious position with huge heavy player and my own weight crushing down on me. I began to be a tad concerned that I was at risk of breaking my neck. Then Niall piled on and there was only one thing I could do. Yep, it was literally time to kiss my ass good bye, whether I liked it or not. I heard a huge crunch from my spine then three or four more. I was up s**t creek without a paddle. After 5 or ten seconds the weight came off and I rolled sideways and with an almighty pop, my head was ejected from my own backside! Cooky looked concerned. I was on my knees face down in the mud coughing up several vertebrae! I spent a few seconds trying to gather up the ejected parts of my spine and trying to relocate them back into my neck. I had grown by 3” they were probably upside down and back to front. I appealed to the ref about foul play? He just told me to wind my neck in! Charming. A mere mortal would probably have died but like I said to Aussie, only the good die young! So close to getting a parking space next to Aussies! I pretended not to be hurt for the next 5 mins till we pressured their lineout on their own 5m line their 10 fumbled and a bemused Danny Copley simply touched the ball as it was sitting on the floor over the try line. Foreman missed the conversion.
We went into half time 24-5 up and I wasn’t in a good way so I decided to sub myself under the pretence that it’d be good to get Callum Dyson and the other subs on. We were 19 points up and really beginning to get on top. Lyons went on to try and hold the games structure and Cooky took the Captains arm band. My final real contribution was to tell the lads that if they kept playing the way we were then the oppo would collapse and we’d score loads but we must keep the pressure on. If we got giddy and started playing fast and loose the game would turn into a bum fight!
So, guess what happened? My memory is a little shaky on the second half so I’m going to work off Karl Haigh’s impeccable notes….
Stanley also lost a player to a neck injury, clearly not a good day to stick your neck out for your team. On 50 mins Stanley’s Donald Trump got a particularly nasty brew injury? Why was a billionaire playing for the Wakefield side and why did he have a scalding hot cuppa? I’m beginning to doubt that Bob Marley was playing last week when we were playing against Morley?
On 52 mins Stanley got a break away and scored in the corner but failed to convert. 24-10.
Our lineout began to crumble as Royds soared but Cooky, clearly distressed about my injury threw four ‘not straight’ line outs in a row. Piling pressure on us, Niall got fed up and absolutely creamed their best forward. Apparently, his grandchildren will be born dizzy from the impact. Shame I didn’t see it so it doesn’t count. The power had gone to Lyon’s head it was all on board the crazy train playing fast and loose. Time after time we went too wide too early and turned the ball over. The one redeeming thing that happened in the second half was that Giblin attacked the line from 10 and as he so often does through a dummy and sneaked through drew the 15 and passed, Callum Dyson with the ball 5m out with all the time in the world and Callum was delighted to get his first open age try. Foreman kicked the conversion, 31-10.
In the dying minutes of the game Stanley put a few phases together to score a converted try. 31-17
It was pretty terrible game but a good deal of credit goes to the Stanley Rodillians lads who were outclassed and worked hard and came away with some pride. They fought hard when their heads could easily have dropped. Managing to win the second half. We got a comfortable win but when you thrash someone in the first half with that kind of dominance you should put a cricket score on in the second half. We need to learn from this as it’s going to cost us games. However, a bad win is better than a heroic defeat. So, we are 4 from 5 and we go marching on. The ref was reasonably good and surprisingly even which was to be applauded bearing in mind it was both the greatest honour of his life and he was also being assessed.
Man of the Match Niall Phayer
Oppo voted MoM Charlie Foreman
Strong performances from Jamie Rhodes, James Giblin
Biggest hit Charley Foreman (not Niall Phayer)
Best Student Eddie Wragg
Written by George Hinchliff