Oh what a lovely war!
Band of Brothers strike again
On an auspicious and sombre day as today, what better place to mark the falling of so many than the playing fields of England, from where so many went from facing advancing lines of mud strewn men cradling a rugby ball to facing machine gun fire, led by officers not much older than our boys. We will remember them.
A lot of talk before this game was of the WW1 parallels we would face today. The drive to Littleborough takes in some terrain and townscapes that look straight from the 1900's and the awful weather this morning, the drone of the heavy traffic on the M62 above - all in all it gave me the right hump. Added to that Littleborough has never been a happy hunting ground as player or coach. Our lads however were full of fighting spirit, and their mood in the changing room. led by Josh the jester, soon cheered my up. They knew a battle was brewing, but they were not put off by Melchet or Darling, on the contrary, this platoon couldn't wait to go over the top.
On taking to the field our first encounter was with Capt Mannering himself, the gent who officiated our game introduced himself at length in the freezing conditions, but from then on had a fine game. Our warm up was brief and concentrated on waking up, the scene was set for a cracking game. First of all came another stoppage for the remembrance silence, beautifully observed, then it was battle stations.
Blackburn completely dominated the first half. Playing downhill and into a slight side wind, we were extremely unlucky not to have scored at least 4 tries, the slippery conditions robbing us of footing or making us knock on far too much. When a break in play did arrive, the lads regrouped, changed the tactic to a more holding formation and proceeded to cross the Littleborough line 2 times, Jacob and Tobi, with Calum adding the extras. At half time we were extremely confident of a rout and there was little evidence that the Hun had any artillery!! However, Blackadder had a cunning plan, and in the second half the Littleborough generals unleashed a couple of big hitters, bring the game back to just our conversions as the difference. Heads did not go down, we didn't bicker or blame, instead there was a return to the belief and workrate that had won us so much first half ball. The next time the Littleblighters tried to ram home their advantage they were cut down mercilessly, all of our forwards working their socks off to make sure we had no gaps in the line. Testament to this was the 3 or so scrummages against the head, and a brilliant held up maul just 5 meters out from our line. Littleborough began to tire again, and Tom Fs great kicking and vision at 10 had them spinning and running for the trenches at every attack. A well placed kick down their right win almost got Arthur some pie, but it was Harry who managed to get onto the end of another great kick that restored a healthier lead. Tom added the coup de grace a few minutes later with another chip that Jacob gladly accepted leaving him with a winger to beat, who he left face down in the Somme like stuff.
Littleborough had the last play and the last laugh with a try at the death, but the last post was already being sounded, and our lads left the field together knowing that they had achieved something pretty special here today, already licking our lips for the visit of Rochdale next weekend.