“The Vets represent the solid foundations of Barnes Rugby Club, when all around us in the club have lost their heads in the past it is the Vets that have always been there, always been rock steady, always enabled the club to rebuild.”
Former Vets Ca
Whilst I am sure many of you, like me, appreciate autumn’s beauty transforming our surroundings, I can't exactly recall anyone saying summer was over! It seemed only days ago when long sunny evenings allowed for a group of keen Vets to play Touch rugby on a Tuesday and enthusiastically talk about the season that lay ahead. Sun tanned Guys looking athletic, nimble and fit, danced around the pitch displaying all manner of moves, banter and bravado with a shimmy here and sidesteps there!
But like falling leaves as youth fades into old, Vets too loose that summer tan and as the nimble side step slows, Vets its seems, want to flipping well hibernate and behave like hedgehogs.....with a hangover!!!!
Poetic beauty over......!!
Fellow lovers of all things Green & Gold welcome to the Gentleman's lounge of Barnes RFC.....The Esteemed Harrodain Vets!
You would not believe the utter tomfoolery I have had to entertain this week in the build up to our first league fixture with the hugely respectable Richmond Heavies!
With a change to the league structure enabling Home and away fixtures for both Clubs, we are set to have a very competitive and busy session, yet we have had to cancel both warm up friendlies as we had no more than 9 players available! It seemed Vets had disappeared over night and guys simply refused to respond to emails, texts, countless watts app group messages and smoke signals for the less literate amongst our ranks.
And in rolled the excuses.....
Relocated to Dubai, mates wedding, I've twisted my ankle (again), my neck is sore, I'm playing for another side, I've got my period, I will be ready in October, works really busy, I've lost interest in the game and want to retire.....(I kid you not!!), my wife won't let me, my kids are 6 & 7, my sister has a nose bleed and on and on they came in! Though in fairness none of them trumps Sean Gibson not making a previous league decider final and instead went on a pottery training weekend with his wife!
By Wednesday we only had 9 players available and Skips was getting a little hot under the collar!
More gallant emails, Club and Country stuff were issued, delving deep into old contact sheets from era's gone by searching out players; then our Venerable Chairman sent out his call to arms and by Thursday we were up to 13 players! Game
on..... we were up for this and the fixture was definitely confirmed!
Skips was now ready for the usual pre-match preparation of kit sorting, water bottles and scrubbing my balls....all three of them!
Saturday greeted us with sunshine and a dry breeze and the joy of playing on the 1st team pitch, an open expanse resembling the Masai Mara, a perfect stage for the mixture of Wilder beast and Gazelle representing the Heavies. Conversely Harrodian predominant Meer cats and the odd hedgehog who eventually replied to the email onslaught!
Ref Hugh sporting a hideous neon pink strip had us kick off to Heavies who gathered and set off on the stampede.......
Now for those new pundits of you who have stayed up late to read this whilst your Missus is re-reading for the fourth time 50 shades on her kindle, she, I assure you, has a more exciting read, as my match report is merely a synopsis!
Heavies were certainly absent a few star players yet the squad was deep and plenty of seasoned experienced players to boast. Within 5 mins or so Heavies scored and had displayed usual dominance with some very strong attacking. Lineouts were soon to prove our weakness and their strength as we were absent our key jumpers and they had some good structure which they put to good use, but we were patient!
What we had was a back line that hadn't forgotten how to dance and a back row that wanted to dance with them!
SUBLIME......doesn't even do it justice, the guys were mesmeric led by Rich Mayson who was brilliant in creating opportunities and opening up the Heavies defence. New recruits Ozzy and Mike relished in the sun light and had outstanding debut performances for Harrodian. Marek, Morgs and Si and Lewis were also brilliant and from this brilliance we started to find holes and open up the Heavies defence.
Heavies dominated the scrums and were immensely powerful with it, but I've got to single Darrel out for being so strong and absorbing so much pressure from their tight head. But the two players who I salute were Spence and Chris Codo!!!! They were outstanding in the back row and were an impossible nightmare for Heavies to wake up from. Spence was utterly brilliant in every aspect of his game and was by far my man of the match.
We soon started to really run Heavies ragged with some exceptional interplay and finding offloads that we never normally could attempt as support players weren't to be found, but for some reason which I can’t explain we produced arguably one of our best performances ever with the worst preparation ever, no warm up rugby played and a side thrown together with 'Hi mate my name is....."!
Heavies NEVER give up and deserve every ounce of respect and you simply don't give them the chance as they will punish you. We played as contested as ever and on a few occasions tempers frayed on both sides.....its rugby.....it happens, but we know how to be humble and resolve it.
What happened on Saturday was 17 players made a commitment to turn up, get involved and make whatever sacrifices they had to make in order to represent the Club. My admiration, respect and gratitude to those players in immense. Richmond Heavies are an outstanding side and a brilliant Club, to beat them convincingly is testament to these 17 players.
To those players who weren’t able to be with us….shame, but it’s a long season and there is much to do, but for the moment it’s the 17 players below who deserve your recognition!
4 James Lancaster
9 Mike Croft
11 Si Curren
13 Rich Mason
15 Lewis Hammond
16 Nick H
Spence x3 Ozzie x2 Morgs Marek Rich Mayson X1 a piece.
Cons Lewis x 3.