It’s easy (and right) to blame all the worlds ills on Yorkshire, but even I had to wonder what fresh horror that stygian-hearted land had unleashed upon us from their Pandora’s box of devilment, as an ice-cold biting wind and horizontal stabbing rain swept across the tops of the Pennines to crash against the wall of wives and children we U11s dads were sheltering behind.
An hour before the matches were due to start, another clubs squad took to the field in front of us and went through fifteen minutes of drills and training in the freezing arctic conditions. I don’t know if all this was done for our benefit or that their coaches were naturally sadistic but it was jolly impressive. I’m only sorry our boys weren’t there to appreciate it too, what with them being stuck in a warm changing room and all. Anyway great show fellas, thanks!
The dreaded moment came sooner than we expected (or wanted). We were due to play Lymm but they’d either gone home, or seeking warmth, had met a strange professor named Von Hardwigg who believed that there were volcanic tubes nearby, going down toward the centre of the Earth which would offer the team warmth. Lymm, along with the professor, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans may have descended into an extinct volcano, encountering many adventures, including dinosaurs and natural hazards, before eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy. As our game kicked off they had probably just discovered the giant cave filled with prehistoric mushrooms. (I think Rhys must have been sampling some of these mushrooms himself!! – Steph)
So our fixture against Fylde was brought forward. Cryogenically frozen to the touchline, I stood with the rest of the gentle menfolk, shivering as the Rugby Mums Ultras desperately tried to evolve a denser hairy undercoat over the chest, flanks and thighs to insulate them from the cold (you’re cruising for a bruising Rhys).
Right from the off Manchester were in Fylde’s faces. After the disappointment of only winning the Plate in the Lancashire Cup Final, our boys seemed up for it, ready to prove themselves against one of the Northwest’s top teams at our age group. From a “miss-kicked kick off” (it was always going to be a lottery in this wind and rain) Manchester gathered the loose ball and ran at the opposition. This early constant pressure resulted in Fylde giving away a penalty about ten yards out from their try line. A quick pass from the Post to an on-rushing Manchester player saw him burst through the opposition defence to score a deserved try. Fylde came straight back at us and scored a try midway through the half. As the first period was drawing to an end, Manchester found themselves once again camped in the Fylde half and from a ruck, the ball was kicked clear by a Fylde player, only to be scooped up eagerly on the bounce by a Manchester player who, seeing a gap, spread his legs and raced past three defenders to score in the corner with the last play of the half.
Half Time: Manchester 2 - 1 Fylde
Manchester’s excellent rugby continued in the second half, with most of the play being in the Fylde half. Fylde still made our Forwards work really hard. For a brief spell in the second half we were camped near our own try line defending resolutely against some excellent attacking play, but as has been the feature many times this season our defensive work was superb and Fylde failed to score. And it was from a Manchester penalty in our own 22 that the third try was created. The ball was again passed to an on-rushing player who barged his way through to the opposition 22 before off loading the ball to a support player to charge over the line to secure a deserved win against a strong side.
It can’t have been much fun for either team to play in such horrible conditions, you were all braver than me out there boys, and I for one look forward to some excellent matches between these two great rugby-playing sides in the future.
Final score: Manchester 3 1 Fylde
The very last stats of the season are hard to decipher but appear to be either a cry for help, or that Fylde kicked the ball twice and we didn’t. Manchester had no lineouts and Fylde three, two of which we won. We were both awarded two scrums, with us winning both of ours and one of Fylde’s. Manchester had four penalties to Fylde’s one.
By the time both teams had got back to base camp, most of the other sides had packed up and gone home. The tournament was sadly (but rightly) abandoned. All I’d say is that Rochdale is a great day out, the club make us very welcome and we’ll be back next year I hope. The way I read the situation, we are still joint holders of the Rochdale Trophy, along with Broughton Park.
Over to you Steph...
THE DOG’S DO-DAHS!
“The Dog’s Do-Dahs”. That would cover a multitude of sins - and may also be a collective noun for rugby coaches! Perhaps a “scrotum” of coaches - or maybe not as we have many more than two. (It’s “Scrota” Steph, as in, apparently, “A scrota of rugby coaches”. Unfortunately that works! Cheers Statto). At last - I’ve been trying to think of a collective noun that would do - seems as if I am getting close! It would also cover what we think of our boys.
This season we have watched our boys grow as a team both on and off the field. Thanks to their coaches and their hard work, their skills have improved and when the results and stats are reviewed they have achieved so much - which we all need reminding of.
As a group of parents, we continue to see the commitment of the boys, their joy and disappointments, friendships formed and lessons learned. As ever, we appreciate our coaches for their continuing work with the boys in all weathers. Massive thanks to Suzanne for doing so much for our team as well as Manchester Rugby Club.
Thanks also to a great bunch of parents for making standing in the cold infinitely more tolerable than it would otherwise be. We have had another season of tea and sausage sandwich runs, we have been Wet Wet Wet in West Park, Blowden away with Bowdon and gone wild in Wigan; we have spotted Gorillas in the Mist and Moustachioed Movember men. And not been arrested for any of it! Most of all, it has been great fun and I’m sure we Will
all be back for more next season. Personal thanks to Rhys for putting so much effort into these reports, which would have become weather reports by this stage without his observations and rampant ravings! Thanks Rhys – Steph x
Both my Boss Steph and I have been advised to make this the last match report of the season on both legal and medical grounds, and so without wanting to risk ‘burnout’ or an angry mob we’ll see you next season.