'A remarkable end to a remarkable season'

2 months ago By Jon Edwards

Gavin Lach admits Saturday’s thrilling play-off victory over Sale FC ‘hasn’t sunk in yet’.

OEs’ Director of Rugby saw his side dig deep with a fantastic backs-to-the-wall display in the second half of an absorbing play-off clash to book their place in National One next season.

It completes a remarkable end to a remarkable season for the Old Boys who secured their fifth promotion in eight seasons under Lach.

“To be honest, it’s all quite surreal and it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he said the morning after the night before. “The whole afternoon was something of a blur and I was exhausted by the evening. I got back to our hotel after midnight and just wanted a coffee and my bed and there was a full-on party going on in the hotel bar with the supporters that had travelled up! I eventually got back to my room but could hear champagne corks popping outside at 4am!

“It’s a magnificent achievement and I thought the boys were unbelievable especially the way they defended in the second half against an outstanding Sale side. They put their bodies on the line and dug deep for each other which they have done all season.

“It’s funny, everyone knows I get really nervous and edgy before a game. I am impossible to talk to, I stay away from lunches and sit in my own little office at home games. I have to be left alone normally at least three hours before kick-off because I’m just grumpy.

“But when I arrived at Heywood Road early on the Saturday and looked around the changing rooms, I was very calm. It sounds weird, but I just had a gut feeling we’d win. A very close friend sent me an e-mail at the start of the week that meant a lot. I read it and re-read it then I greeted the travelling support as the coaches rolled in. For the first time this season I was calm.

“And after 20 minutes, the way we set about our task in the opening exchanges and with that wonderful crowd in full voice behind us, I just knew.”

The OEs boss added: “The game didn’t go the way we planned and we didn’t really get to move the ball wide as much and play at the high pace and tempo we like but that was as much down to the quality of the Sale defence.”

Lach was quick to pay tribute to OEs’ opponents. “I thought Sale were absolutely magnificent on and off the field,” he said. “In fact, their players, officials and supporters were a credit to their club and helped make our day so memorable. They made us feel so welcome when we arrived there, and after the game every single one of their players and coaches came up to us either outside or in our dressing room to congratulate us. To do that, despite their obvious disappointment, is a massive gesture and won’t be forgotten, I can assure you of that.

“It was an absolute privilege to play at Heywood Road. Saturday was just our day in the end but there is no doubt Sale FC are a quality outfit and I’m pretty confident they will be joining us in National One in a year’s time. I hope so because it would be great to go back there - although the bar bill might be a little less next time!”

Updated 12:12 - 23 May 2017 by Jon Edwards

Where next?

‘The high point of my career’ Player-coach Aaron Liffchak, the architect behind Elthamians’ iron curtain, hailed his players’ superb defensive effort at Heywood Road.
National One here we come! Old Elthamians will play in National One next season after the most remarkable afternoon in the club’s history.

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