“So it's all down to this weekend - winner takes all - come on Barnow!”
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like . . . a Barnow victory.
I am so excited that I might explode before Saturday!
Why? Because of the brilliant results last weekend, and the possibility that has brought us of winning the London and South East Premier League outright this weekend.
Barnes won 5-29 away to Towcestrians, whilst Tring won 22-17 against Guernsey.
IF we beat Sutton and Epsom at their place this Saturday, and we score 4 tries or more in the process, then we will win the league.
Before I talk about the various permutations for this weekend, I also want to mention our Occies team, who won at Old Emmanuel 27-32 last Saturday to secure a promotion playoff game this weekend. They play away against Old Hamptonians on Saturday, and we wish them all the very best in this quest.
As far the Barnes win against Towcestrians last weekend, well it was a beautiful spring day but the pitch was a quagmire of epic proportions. Whilst the weather may have been beautiful we were not, and didn’t play well in the first half. Tows bristling and aggressive style certainly disrupted us, along with two early injuries which meant playing our subs out of position, a scrum-half on the wing, a flanker in the centre, so we only lead 0-5 at halftime. All was pretty similar until the last quarter when we scored 3 tries to take the game away from the home team and secure all 5 points to give us the top spot in the league.
Meanwhile, drama at Tring, with the home team maintaining their fortress Tring record and beating Guernsey. After their performance against us the previous week, which they could well have won on another day, them beating the league leaders was not at all surprising. But it has done us a massive favour!
So back to the main event, our game against Sutton and Epsom this coming weekend.
Firstly, some context about the current league positions, and the various permutations.
Tring did us a huge favour defeating Guernsey. It means that Barnes is now in 1st place in London and South-East Premier and, critically, we are 1 point in front of Guernsey, with 1 game to go.
Guernsey, for so long this season the runaway favourites and league leaders, have clearly faltered at the final hurdles, first losing to us at their place, and then away to Tring last week.
This means, and I can scarcely bring myself to say this, that the league title is ours to lose, and the automatic promotion to National League 2 South that goes with it.
Tring is numerically out of the race for a top two place, being 5 points behind Guernsey, with a vastly inferior points difference, and 6 behind Barnes.
We should expect a cricket score between Guernsey and Towcestrians on Saturday, meaning 5 points and a dent in the 47 points difference advantage we have. So what does Barnes need to do to guarantee top spot?
It is simple: we need to win against Sutton and Epsom, and score more than 4 tries in doing so. That would give us 5 points for the win too and whatever Guernsey does becomes irrelevant as they would not be able to overhaul us.
Barnes has not lost since last November but this final game, against Sutton and Epsom, a team that beat us on the very first day of the season is one we will respect, but one we will be totally prepared for. There will be no complacency, there will only be a relentless focus over the next few days, we will not go quietly into the night!
I know this team, I know their incredible passion, and I know their steely determination to perform well. They will want to reverse the pain we all felt on the last day of last season when we lost to Bishops Stortford in the last minutes of the last game and were relegated by 1 point.
They will focus this week, as the sun shines on their backs and, on Saturday, this astonishing band of brothers will be ready for one of the biggest days in our long history.
No more words are necessary, I wish the boys well in this massive goal, I trust them to do a brilliant job.
It will not be easy, but the more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning!
PLEASE COME TO SUTTON AND EPSOM AND SUPPORT THE 1ST XV IN THEIR QUEST FOR VICTORY! IT PROMISES TO BE A BRILLIANT DAY.
Here are all of the fixtures on Saturday 21st:
• Sutton & Epsom 1st XV vs Barnes 1st XV - 3pm KO
• Chinnor 2nd XV vs Barnes 2nd XV - 3pm KO
• Old Hamptonians v Occies - 3pm KO - (League play-off game)
• Barnes Ladies 7's development tournament - 4 pools of teams 10.30am KO at Barn Elms
Good luck to the all of the teams, and please, please, please do try to go and support the 1's at Sutton and Epsom.
Onwards the Green Army, here's hoping for a massive win at Sutton and Epsom, for massive support from the Barnow massif and for massive celebrations afterwards!
Michael "Rhino" Whitfield
Updated 17:56 - 18 Apr 2018 by Michael Whitfield