Last song on the Jukebox for Webster and Keegan
This match had everything. Crowds, drama, emotion, a comeback, rain, and lots of kicking. Very poor kicking, and everyone was in on the act.
Alan Webster XV versus Sean Keegan XV memorial match generated a big turnout. There was no pleading with players to turn up for this match, with an outstanding response from both old and young. The conditions weren’t the best, but the support on the side line was also well attended.
As captain’s Ben Webster and Jay Keegan lined their teams up, the Last Post was played by Phil Osborne at the start of the game. A dictatorial Brian Gardner was officiating, in charge of preventing Keegan’s side from cheating.
To be honest, there was a few who were in no condition to play. If ever there was a need for a defibrillator, it was this day. Not only for the likes of Bob Marnell, Les Ingham, John Greaves, and Richie Lloyd, but also Michael Tansey, who was claiming he’d only last ten minutes.
------------ The Game ----------
All attempts were made to make the sides as even as possible, and although Keegan’s side had some fast paced backs, in Marnell, Johnston, and Brown, I ensured they had minimum chance of any ball possession. With no ‘liftable’ lineout jumpers, and Craig Johnson strategically placed at scrum-half as extra insurance, there was no way they could to get any ball.
------- Kicking Update -------
Where do I start?
Basically there’s this strong wind blowing from the housing estate across the pitch to the golf club.
Webster’s team get a generous number of penalties from Referee Brian due to the opposition’s poor cheating (most of which came from Richie Lloyd). Jay Evans takes the first three, going for maximum distance but clearly oblivious to the wind speed and direction, and Keegan’s team run it back, with interest. Jay later says the soft ground was the problem.
Then Jamie Luck steps in for a couple, poorly kicking into the wind, and Keegan’s team run it back again, with relish.
After about eight penalties that fail to go into touch, the very senior Dave Edwards gets his hands on the ball. Thank god, we all think, here’s a mature head to stabilise the ship. However, Dave Edwards kick is one of the most amazingly pathetic efforts ever witnessed. Starting 15 metres in from the right hand touchline, Dave’s one handed drop spiralling kick did go forward, before the wind intervened, arching it into the centre of the pitch, about 30 metres in from touch.
Just what was Dave thinking when he snatched the ball from Jamie? Did he forget that it has been over five years since his last game? That it’s over five years since he’d last kicked a ball, and over eight years since he’d kicked a ball properly. Does he forget the special, mutual exclusivity rules about second rows and rugby balls? I guess the only thing Sefton can take from Dave’s kick is that he should never grace their pitches ever again (Stick to walking your dog Dave, as long as ‘your derg does not bite’).
Due to this poor kicking game Keegan XV were allowed numerous touches of the ball, which let Adam Marnell (pretending he was in no fit state to play), shamelessly put his centres through the gaps. Firstly Steve Johnston getting a try, then Craig Johnson scores a second, claiming in his drunken stupor that it was from the oppositions half (in my opinion, poor bragging rights, considering the pace on Webster’s team).
Amazingly, the only Webster XV kick that found touch in the first half was Jay’s restart after a Keegan XV try, which sailed over the back left pitch and nearly went into the golf course. One wonders if Jay has yet to learn about ‘forces’ or ‘wind’ at school yet?
A final humiliation came when Sam Gallear trundles over the line for a third try. It could of been worse, a definite try scoring opportunity was knocked on over the line, but the shame on his face as he walked back is enough humiliation, we don't have to name names, he knows who he is.
If there was any conciliation, it was that Liam Brown didn’t score when he was clean through, with Campo to beat, and two support players by his side. Brown ended up on his backside, due to his overconfidence in getting through the ‘past its sell-by date’ full back.
Just before half time the appearance of a homeless person on the pitch confused me, until I realised it was John Merit. I'm not at all suggesting he's let himself go, but I gave him all my spare change.
The half-time bottle of Port was a welcome inebriation for some players, with the Webster XV’s Michael Tansey being one requesting ten minutes rest. The sudden appearance of Tansey on the Keegan’s XV at the restart was a credit to his bodies recovery time (his deviousness knows no end).
The game in the second half was a lot more even, you could suggest that Tansey’s defection was a deciding factor. Chris ‘smithers’ McCleary’s pass must be mentioned, trying to convince everyone including himself that it wasn’t forward. I do hope he doesn’t have any coaching responsibilities in the future, that team will be doomed.
The only try of the half came from Webster XV. With Ben Webster receiving the ball just inside the oppositions half, brushing off a number of tackles, only to be stopped five metres short of the line. The supporting pack arrive to drive him over the try line, where he is able to ground the ball. A truly awesome try with giggley flesh abundant.
One other kick of note worth mentioning was a comical effort by this tall lad from Palestine, Jordon.
This surprise appearance brought some worried looks. Some players are made of glass and are in danger of breaking if not handled with care. So when he finds himself with the ball on the wing with one player to beat, you can understand the defenders uneasy deliberations. Tackle him and see him shatter into millions of pieces, or allow him to pass and score. Luckily, the pilgrim did the honourable thing. Clearly they don’t play with oval balls in the promised land, but that didn’t deter this naive kid having a go throwing the ball high to the heavens, and praying it lands on one of his boots.
Alas, God wasn’t playing ball today and it just flopped in front of the novice, to the knowing nods of us non-believers. No man of the match for you.
The last ten minutes were refereed by Liam Brown, who clearly has no idea of the rules of rugby, making up rules to cover up his incompetence. No wonder he keeps getting sent off.
It was a despondent Michael Tansey after the match, who was on the loosing team in both halves, teaching him a valuable lesson that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
---------- Prognosis ----------
A fantastic day today, with player turnout and crowd support.
Note that we are seeking to have Mossley Hill’s James Goulding barred from Sefton (haven’t we barred him before?), as his ‘one man team’ facade was really an undercover recruitment exercise, whispering to Sefton players about how fantastic Mossley Hill is...
A real fox in the hen house.
I was pleased to see that there was abundant Christmas shower gel available in the shower after the match, and plenty of beer drunk in the bar afterwards, with Campo trying to replicate Jukeboxes stale pies. Something tells me those pies are not going to taste the same again.
Amazingly coincidental, the Sefton Misery Reporter had managed to get an interview with the Sefton Club President Alan Webster, aka Jukebox, before Christmas. Sadly, this proved to be the last interview Jukebox ever had. Which meant Jukebox couldn't formally authorise this interview's publication, but I am sure he'd want his story told....
SMR: Jukebox, that’s an unusual name, why do people call you that?
J: I love to sing, in fact I never shut up, it’s a tribute to my great singing talent. A gift that has to be shared.
SMR: I sure it is, though you can always turn repeat off on a jukebox.
You used to be in the army, how was that, you must have some great memories?
J: I was in the Irish Guards, although I can’t remember much of it, we had to drink a lot, I think. I eventually left them though.
SMR: Why’s that?
J: I’m not even Irish, I’m actually half Scottish, I was scared of them finding out!
SMR: Scared of being found out? And yet you had no qualms at Sefton, letting them think you were a rugby player... Never mind.
So then you moved to the Guards Parachute Company, what was all that about?
J: I thought I would just be looking after the parachutes, you know, like ‘guarding them’ but they expected me to jump out of a plane.
SMR: Is that a problem? They were probably just trying to get rid of you.
J: Well I was never very good with heights, why would you jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane?
SMR: You’re scared of heights, I can see why that would hinder you.
J: They were very good to me though, making sure the plane was on the ground before I jump out, it was still scary though.
Eventually I moved to the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment.
SMR: So you overcame your fear of heights?
J: Yes, they gave me some milk, I love milk. The next thing I remember, I’m laying in a field with a parachute flapping behind me! Very strange.
SMR: I bet it was.
Moving on to your rugby....
Player, Captain, Coach, and President at Sefton. You have given a lot to this club haven’t you?
J: I have, and I intend to give a lot more. They will have to carry me out of this club.
SMR: As well, you're a cook and a cleaner here, proving very resourceful with helping Christian Caine get squeaky clean, in the end. Did you ever manage to get those curly hairs out of your teeth?
J: Haha, yes. Christian was very satisfied, on the whole, a memory he will treasure.
SMR: The Club has certainly benefitted from your presence here, what’s the story about the defibrillator?
J: What do you mean?
SMR: Well, is it true that it was put in predominantly for your use, and the Committee are not happy that they haven’t got their money’s worth yet?
J: That isn’t at all true, in fact those lot are actively preventing me from collapsing on the rugby pitch, it’s not right.
SMR: How is that?
J: They won’t let me play, they say I should take up something more relaxing, like painting.
SMR: Well it is more sedate.
J: Are you joking, look at Michelangelo, it didn’t do him any good.
SMR: Michelangelo died hundreds of years ago.
SMR: So you’re not going to listen to their advice.
J: No chance, I've always trusted my gut feeling. I’ve even set up my own personal Vets team so I can play.
SMR: You did? How is that going?
J: Well we haven’t had a game yet, but we have good intentions. And I talk a good game anyway.
SMR: Ah yes, you seem very positive whenever you talk about it, but I don’t think many share your enthusiasm.
J: What do you mean?
SMR: Well, your assessment for how many were going to play the last game were wildly over estimated. You predicted 30 plus, I think you were lucky if you got twelve.
J: Well, players are very unpredictable. And the old ones, you know, the mind is willing...
SMR: You did manage to organise a tour to Malta though, didn’t you.
J: Oh yes, I was the Captain. It was great, Mediterranean Tournament Champions.
SMR: You’re not trying to tell me you won the tournament?
J: I have the photo to prove it.
SMR: I thought that was just Brian Gardner, pinching the trophy and having a photo with it.
J: You should never believe what you hear. Trust your eyes, the camera never lies.
SMR: That’s great, can I see the trophy?
J: It got lost in transit, very, very sad. Can we move on? It really upsets me.
SMR: Oh, right, sorry.
Your son plays rugby too, must be great having a game with him?
J: I’ve tried to teach him everything I know, but I fear he will never be able to over exaggerate everything like I can.
SMR: You are the master at that.
You’re in charge of the kitchen on match days, I hear you’re very territorial about your workspace.
J: Well, I’m a perfectionist. An artist doesn’t want any interruptions when he is creating a masterpiece, I’m the same in the kitchen.
SMR: Yes, your pies are legendary, people say no one can ruin a simple pie as much as you, what is the secret?
J: Well thank you, I take a lot of pride in that process. The key is to make sure they are well past their ‘best by’ date. Like a good woman, they get better with age.
SMR: Are you telling me you buy stale and out of date pies?
J: Of course, the staler the better, I get them at a bargain price. And, the older they are, the easier they are to pick up.
SMR: Surely that isn’t very hygienic?
J: It’s ok, I cook them till they're burnt to a crisp, no bacteria can survive that.
They don’t teach you that on MasterChef! I still haven’t heard back from them by the way.
SMR: Unbelievable. This has been a privilege, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
J: No problem, now get out of my kitchen, I need to be alone to prepare my special sauce.
Ed's Note. This interview in no way reflects the over exuberant, exaggerated views of Alan ‘Jukebox’ Webster.
Well maybe a little.
Jukeboxes funeral is this Monday, 12.30, at St Luke’s church, followed by burial at Allerton Cemetery and then back to Sefton RUFC. Thanks for the memories Jukebox, a true Sefton legend.