WMPRUFC v QRHussars
Remembrance Day game at Tally Ho! Sunday 12th November 2017
It was a crisp yet gloriously sunny early winter setting for the annual Remembrance Day rugby and football matches against the QRH. After a narrow defeat last year, the Hussars were determined to exact revenge in true bloodthirsty army fashion. To this end, they arrived at Tally Ho! two days early to acclimatise to the different currency (I think they still use Euros in Germany?) and bar tariffs found on Broad Street and surrounding entertainment districts.
With 4 teams and 3 changing rooms, we happily shared with the WMP ‘soccerball’ team. Footy is an odd pastime but the general chatter regarding who had the silkiest shorts and whether to wear socks ‘over the knee’ or conventional was most enlightening. The 4 teams took the field for the impeccably observed minute’s silence to the sound of bagpipes, performed by a Hussar whose quality of dress was matched only by his exemplary piping. How he managed to stop his fellow tourists from stealing his bagpipes during the previous 48hrs of frivolity is beyond me – credit where credit is due.
To the game. The Hussars won the toss and chose to play up the slope and against the wind. To ensure a worthy competition followed, WMP chose to play down the hill and with the wind!?! The first half saw much attacking endeavour and ferocious defence, with both sides finding greater continuity as the half progressed in tricky conditions. At 57 years young, Hazelwood had made the mistake of drunkenly volunteering to ‘turn out needed’. He was thrust in at an unaccustomed tight head positon that allowed for contested scrums until his departure from the arena through ‘tiredness’ 30 minutes in. The game was 36 minutes old before he actually made it to the touchline and got hooked up to a defibrillator (just in case #H&S). Littlehales saw yellow on 20 minutes after trying to decapitate off his opposite number with a straight arm. He enjoyed the 10 minutes rest but more than justifiable pay back he received thereafter. Hitchmough, at fullback’ inexplicably decided to play in invisible boxing gloves that did nothing to assist his performance, while Marsh wore gold boots that were totally inappropriate for someone of his age and rapidly fading ability.
While WMP enjoyed much of the possession and territory in the first half, due in most part to the favourable conditions, it was the Hussars who broke the deadlock with some fine free running and passing after a clearance kick to halfway by WMP wasn’t followed up. The conversion was unsuccessful. WMP responded through a penalty kick by the youthful Southam (10). Greg ‘Smithy’ Smith (ingenious nickname) on debut at 9, had initially questioned the skipper’s decision to go for the posts – to be informed it was necessary as half of the side needed to be hooked up to the oxygen machines kindly donated by the QE for the day. After 50 minutes of the 1st half the ref finally remembered to blow his whistle to bring it to an overdue conclusion. Half time WMP 3 – 5 QRH
It was, as anticipated pre-match, a game of two halves (Rugby often is). In the second QRH enjoyed similar territory and possession to that experience by the home side. Although QRH were clearly fitter, better drilled, younger and more handsome, than the WMP side, they were unable to cross the whitewash at will - a sustained defensive effort by WMP and a number of heroic last ditch tackles keeping WMP in the game. Western came on for a cheeky cameo and put on salmon-like display in the lineout. Jones proved it is not possible to drive over from a couple of yards out while standing more upright than a squaddie on a parade square. Dickson, Sproson, Davies (MoM) & Saunders, demonstrated the longevity that can be achieved if you look after your body – Marsh and Marston showed what happens if you don’t.
The QRH pressure eventually told with a couple of well worked tries leaving WMP 15 – 3 down with a couple of minutes to play. The spirit of the WMP shone through as they summoned one last attacking effort off turnover ball, that saw Littlehales reach out an inspector gadget arm to score under the posts for a consolation try (Thankfully there was no TMO available to see the triple movement and dubious grounding). The final whistle blew as Southam’s conversion sailed between the posts and the QRH were the worthy winners of a competitive and enjoyable match. The scratch WMP side should be proud of their display and tenacity to the final whistle.
Coach, Francis ‘Nocker’ Nock, arrived just in time to join the team in the showers and take advantage of the superb buffet that followed our on-field endeavours. Unfortunately, he made the error of following Hazlewood in the queue and was left with the scraps. The Hussars ensured the Tally Ho! Bar staff were gainfully employed.
Full time WMP 10 – 15 QRH.
Squad – Roger Hazlewood, Rod Dickson (nickname Paddy – coz he’s from Ireland), Rob Muhr, Pat Clarke, Matt Marston, Ben Timms, Sonny Stanaway, Neil Western, Ian Wells, Dec Jones, Dan Simpson, Alex Henley, Ian Wilson, Chris Davies, Gregg Smith, Chad Southam, Richard Marsh ©, Tom Saunders, Dave Sproson, James Littlehales, Dan Hitchmough, Francis Nock (Manager).
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