The epic battle against the “Evil Empire” from Abbotsford was played on Sunday, but it really began in ernest on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon deep in enemy territory in the bad lands of Chilliwack where they sometimes eat their young & occasionally the young of complete strangers. Knowing that we were one or two players short of the full team I noticed that a certain Dan Tanner ,who was playing with panache for our thirds was not likely to be buying the ref a beer after the game. Once he was informed that the ref would be suiting up for the Abby over 40’s the following day ,he muttered something about revenge being a dish best served cold or something about “killing the bastard ” one of the two. O.K. we now had the front row fill in for Dazza, who was unavailable due to haemorrhoidal problems that he wants to keep to himself.
Another problem was that we had lost most of our back row, Big Jim Mossop had had his ribs realigned by an obliging Kiwi at no cost on the day before our game, Pete Ruffals had 2 ribs that had fallen victim to mistaken identity, (you will have to ask him yourself for details), Adrian was at that stage of the menstrual cycle where you just want to be left alone with your poetry, Slipper of the yard was too devastated by the Scottish vote & Sergio had a new apron and didn’t want to take it off. We had a lot of backs who thought they could play back row but you can only humour them for so long.
Fast forward to Saturday night when Dazza & I were partaking of a cheeky I.S.A. (Indian Session Ale) in the Deep Cove Brewery with Amanda Danger, who makes 50 shades of Grey seem like a Barbara Cartland romance novel, when who do I spot but Ben my new neighbour from over t’ street, (that’s how they say it in Blackpool). He says he is only having a quick one because he is getting up at 4.30 am in’t morning to see his beloved Man United play. Further conversation reveals him to be a 38 year old ex Rower flanker & his mate, also from Lancashire, is a 38 year old ex Meralomas number eight, needless to say a few I.P.A’s & tequilas later they have sworn allegiance to the Snowcaps, and promised to ride under our banner the following day.
As the sun rises we are all ,to a man, fast asleep but by 11: 30 ish we are charging towards the heartland of the bible belt, hell bent on mayhem, destruction and if time allows the possibility of picking wild flowers.
A quick glance around the changing room revealed a very decent turnout. Dennis, a 68 year old from the Nanaimo team, was over because Burnaby had bailed on them, Limey Nigel from Seattle was there as he had played against the same bunch of Kiwi Chiropractors as Big Jim had fallen victim to the day before and after 4 hours sleep wasn’t sober enough to work out which direction the border was. Dan Tanner was in a corner throwing imaginary punches at the ref from the day before, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Abby had kicked him out of the team due to him being a total tosser, we could have told them that 3 years ago. Kent was making his first appearance since the ” Friendly Fire Incident ” in Kelowna & Dave McDonald had forgotten his kit but had his mouth guard, insisting that was all he needed. We were just about to head out for the usual autograph signing session when in walks the Tangerine Army as the boys from Blackpool are known as. Ben & Robin, aka Batman & Robin started going over their game plan to each other, something about ” you take out The Joker, I’ll get
Penguin and we’ll team up on Riddler, it was a cunning plan and it might just work.
Incidentally this was not rugby weather, unless your Mother had the great misfortune to give birth to a winger, it was oppressively hot & I felt like I was going to choke on my mouthguard. The night before in the pub, Blackpool Ben had told me that Robin’s party piece is running straight at the opposition with an elbow to the jaw, which I quickly found out was no exaggeration as he ran through one player after another, 20 years ago I used to be able to do exactly the same thing in my imagination, now I don’t even have the energy to do that. Abby looked somewhat surprised by our robust play ,as they had humiliated us 8-1 the year before but that is enough of an indictment on our back line.
A couple of minutes in Woody pulled off a sublime cheeky chip, their defence transgressed & from the ensuing penalty Robin smashed through 3 or 4 shell shocked Abby forwards, Fiji Joe picked up and, for reasons that only he knows, he had to beat a couple more of their players to put it down under the posts. I asked him why & he said because he could, and frankly there is no come back to that. For my international audience, Hi Dad, we don’t take conversions, that is far too demeaning. Abby got one back and it was game on. After the first quarter break we hit them with everything we had, it was text book shock and awe and Woodreau RoboCop ran through half their backs to score our second.
Our third try was a piece of tactical brilliance, Woody kicked all the way across the field to their winger knowing that he was probably going to balls it up instead of taking the easy option & running in for a try against us. Well Woody had done his homework, their winger fell over the ball 8 times, Woodreau ran in picked it up and blazed over for our 3rd. The half time whistle went & we were in uncharted waters, we were beating the invincibles in the ” House of Pain.”
And then it all went “Pete Tong”. I think we badly kicked to them, they up and undered and then hammered Kent in the rib cage a millisecond after he caught the ball. After they steam rollered him they ran in for a try. Minutes later slick Abby passing and unconvincing Snowcap tackling resulted in their winger levelling the score, not bad considering it was Chilliwack’s oldest player against our thirds the day before. Just when you didn’t think it could get any worse they got a penalty 5 yards from our try line and their front row powered through leaving our ranks in disarray. We had gone from 3-1 up to 4-3 down with 15 minutes to go. We were gob smacked and I heard their obnoxious Kiwi say ” That’s why we haven’t been beaten at home so let’s finish the job. ” It was very much looking like we had snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory but we still had 15 minutes to go in probably the most oppressive heat I had ever played in, but then again I have a very short memory.
One of our regular boys said “Blah blah blah, blah blah blah” & we suddenly all felt reinvigorated, for me it was that sixth blah, five just don’t do it for me anymore. In the heat I’m sure I heard a bugle sound, we kicked off , we charged, the opposition up and undered, Dougie caught the ball, beat a couple of players, he went open side and then we reversed play and Woodreau ran in to equal the score. I could see the belief and confidence return to the custodians of virtue. Meanwhile Robin realized that he had run through all of their forwards so he asked if he could go centre, I told him he could go where he feckin well liked, and seconds later he has run 40 yards leaving carnage all over the field as he ran in for our 5th try. Word to the wise from the new voice of reason, if he ever plays against us, GO LOW. Minutes later Woody chips, he gets a lucky bounce, scoops the ball & he runs in for our 6th try. I can see panic and disbelief in the eyes of the opposition, emotions they have not encountered since their first communion many years ago.
Just before the final whistle Woody has a run, passes to Ben, who has had a solid game, and he somehow manages to barge his way through their last 2 backs to seal the deal, and I think the try finally sobered him up. In fairness to Abby, I was impressed by the respect they gave us after their first defeat at home in 3 years and we had a good social in their club afterwards. Woodreau got M.O.M. but it was a great team effort. The front rows were fairly even, Jaymore was good in all 5 positions we put him in, Mike in 3 positions and Jim Harrison looks like he has another 20 years on the wing. Nigel was rock solid in defence and everyone played well. Dougie says that I gave more penalties away than the rest of our team combined, but hey, some players are so deceptive that they look like they have their hands in the ruck, but it is all an optical illusion.
That result was probably our most impressive in years but we still have the fortress to defend. Next week is at home against the SOB’s, all hands on deck, let me know who is available and we really need to get in all remaining dues this Thursday.