Leary’s unexpected form disappoints spectators
The Spring sunshine attracted a huge crowd of at least forty spectators (not including players), in another action packed game.
As the season draws to an end, the sun has eventually made an appearance as Glossop arrive for the return fixture. Glossop would be unfamiliar to this water free surface, apparently playing most of their home games with flippers and snorkels.
It was good to see Craig Johnson make room for his three selected scrum-halves, hiding them everywhere on the pitch to avoid giving the second team any for their away trip to Glossop. His joke about scrum-halves being like buses, didn’t impress Princess sHambling.
The usual sweep stake went round the club on these yearly occasions, not for the Grand National, but for a returning Grant Leary, and how long he would stay on the pitch before he got a card. How he managed to sneak his way into the side, despite playing minimal rugby this season is a mystery.
The opportunist Dave Chiocchi was also hanging around, at first we thought he was taking advantage of Anna’s soft hands, possibly bringing a list of ailments for the newly appointed physio to sort out. However, when Alderman didn’t turn up, he was first to change into his kit. If only he was as fast to get his wallet out.
A good start by Sefton brought early rewards, following a break through the centres by Charlie Nicholson who took the ball into the oppositions twenty-two. A penalty was awarded and Gorgeous kicks into the corner for a lineout. A series of drives push Glossop back and Mitch Bretherton is able to bully his way over for a try in the corner, with just three minutes played.
The early try didn’t break Glossop, and although Sefton were dominating play, they had to work for every inch they gained. In defence Sefton were solid, not allowing Glossop any time on the ball by closing down the space. Liam ‘of the thong’ was in his element out on the wing, not having to worry about passing, and smashing players the instant they got the ball.
Some intelligent kicking by Alex Evans at stand-off allowed Sefton to play in the oppositions half, and force Glossop into giving away a number of penalties in order to slow their progression. As soon as one came within kicking distance, Gorgeous slotted it between the posts.
Ten minutes to go till half time, and Chocky replaces Gez ‘Anger Management’ Thomas at prop. Sefton turns the screw, stretching the opposition with another break by Charlie Nicholson through the centres, who is chased down just as he reaches the oppositions twenty-two. He throws out a wild pass which misses the target, and the fumbled ball is then thrown around wildly, until it is hacked through by the opposition. A race back into Sefton’s half ensues with the Glossop player controlling the ball with his foot till he is able to ground it for a converted try. Against the run of play, Sefton had let Glossop back in.
It was at this point, I noticed Tom Montova is on the pitch. Where has he been, is he a ninja, expert in the art of being unseen, does he not know there is a game of rugby being played around him? I meant to ask him after the match, but he had mysteriously disappeared.
A milestone for Harry Bailey on the 39th minute, he made his first tackle.
In the second half Glossop started to look a threat, with Sefton’s scrum going to pot and the lineout’s not as clinical as before. After ten minutes of pressure, Glossop move through the phases and push into the corner with Sefton just holding them at bay. The ball comes out and the centre spins out of the tackle, and is able to go through under the posts for a converted try. I was unsure who missed the tackle, thus I was unwilling to lay blame, until JJ tells me after the match not to be too harsh on him, as only that one was his fault. Thank you JJ, I can now put the blame in its rightful place. The other miss I will get too.
Minutes later, and Sefton are trying to get out of their half again. A poor kick by Alex Evans puts the ball straight into the hands of the Glossop winger who attacks out wide. With players out of position, Glossop were able to slip round the outside and score in the corner. A superb kick by Glossop’s pie loving stand-off secured the extra two points.
A fixed point in time, as Dr Who fans know, is an event so crucial to the integrity of the universe’s timeline, that it must happen and cannot be prevented, (a bit like Leary being sent off). Harry Bailey producing a ‘second’ tackle from the re-start could be one such point, what has happened to him, has the jeering from the side line spurred him into action?
At last Phil see’s the error of his ways and takes off Chocky, and re-inserts Gez. Tom Montova also comes off with a rousing cheer from the supporters, not for his performance, but for his work in saving the environment. As it is clear that his pristine shirt will not require a wash, thus saving precious water and energy resources. He is an echo warrior hero! On in his place is Grant Leary, the clock is running, thirteen minutes and thirty seconds was my prediction. He said he would try and stay on for that long, but couldn’t promise anything.
Glossop are put under pressure on their twenty-two and a penalty is coming, so Sefton shift the ball to the backs. A dummy pass by Alex Evans fools the defence and he is through under the posts for a try, converted by Gorgeous.
It’s Glossop’s turn to put the pressure on, camping on Sefton’s five metre line but not able to get through. They switch the ball to the backs, and their Amazonian stand-off throws a dummy pass, and this time it’s Alex Evans that is on the floor as he takes the bait. A score under the posts is easily converted.
This is when the impossible happens, another tackle by Harry Bailey. Alright it was a bit feeble, but it was still a tackle. Years later, when I have grandchildren, I will be able to tell them about this event, I doubt they will believe me, saying it is just a myth, but I was there.
With fifteen minutes to go Sefton seem to be reinvigorated (possibly inspired by Harry’s tackle count), and have a dominant period. A lineout on Glossop’s five metre line allows them to attack with the Bush Fighter catching the ball cleanly, it is driven towards the try line at a steady pace. Glossop collapse the maul just before the line, and it should have been a clear penalty try, and possibly a sending off, but Glossop got away with it. Sefton recycle the ball, but suddenly decide to fling it out to the backs, where it is thrown around like a hot potato. Eventually Sefton recover, but they end up twenty metres back from where they started.
With the clock running down, Glossop hold out for the last five minutes to take the win. Another disappointing loss for Sefton, on a gruelling hot day, which took its toll on some. Everyone was upset to see Grant Leary still on the pitch at the end of the match, throwing their betting slip away in frustration, with no one expecting him to last till the end, no one was a winner.
In the clubhouse after the match I was concerned about the health of Perry Caine. He was stumbling around and slurring his words, and I thought he’d had a stroke. I was just about to phone for an ambulance, when it was explained that he had been in the bar since the match had started, and he was on his third pint of the clubs strongest Carling. Clearly too much for the old transit van, but no one was willing to tell him he’d had enough. I left before he started kissing me.