Blind Stevie Wins Goldfish
Sefton’s dominance in the forwards were outmatched by oppositions fast paced wingers.
I had to pinch myself, was this a hallucination, was I delusional? This couldn’t be Owen Devlin sat in the clubhouse, kit bag in hand? After walking out, and back in again, it was confirmed, I wasn’t seeing things, Owen Devlin had actually turned up to play. Claiming this was the ‘new me’ and I quote, “I’m here every week now” and adding, “I’ll be at training on Tuesday”. Now call me pessimistic, but I won’t be putting my house on any bets regarding Owen’s reliability.
Although Caruthers wasn’t available (probably splitting his time, still undecided about his two loves), Blind Stevie did turn up, with Princess insuring his safe arrival by picking him up. Additionally, we had a new scrum-half called Paddy McCleery, no guessing where he comes from, but surprisingly he wasn’t like our usual Celtic cousin students, for a start, he turned up sober.
A no-show by Jacob Stranick was surprising, we can only surmise that his Duracell batteries have finally run dry, however captain sHambling was remarkably calm about it, even though this left us with fourteen players. “It’s ok” he said, “Chester have extra players”. Sure Princess, if they’re anything like our ‘extra players’, they’d be glad to off-load them to us.
Princess sHambling state of mind
I worry about Princess sHambling’s mental health, therefore I have introduced a new rating system, not unlike how they categorise hurricanes. This will be measured in Wailing wall 1 – 10. A one is the lowest, meaning everything is fine, possibly the third team game has been cancelled, and he has plenty of players. Right up to ten, critical, the firsts have probably taken another scrum half, a couple of props, and we are down to nine players. At this point he is a danger to himself, which requires us to remove his belt and shoelaces, and keep him under 24 hour supervision.
This week sHambling’s Wailing Wall rating is six. Quite low, maybe he has been taking something to help calm his nerves. No tears, but there was a slight hint of worry on his face.
We arrived on time, despite Owen Devlin’s insistence that the Runcorn bridge would be the best route. This is the navigator that took us via Mold, the last time we went to Chester, only starting to question his directional skills when the road signs became Welsh. We went through the tunnel.
It was only on arrival that Tom Houghton was told that he was prop today, with Princess throwing the shirt at him, and then running out of the changing room.
Sefton started very well, catching Chester a little off-guard. Owen Devlin taking on their backs straight from kick-off and breaking into their twenty-two immediately. The sustained pressure was kept on by the forwards taking the ball on, and Paddy McCleery was sharp at scrum half. A penalty is awarded to Sefton five metres out, and McCleery was fast to react, taking it quickly and crashing over the try line. Devlin hits the post to deny us the conversion.
Surprisingly, the young winger that Chester loaned us was very good, although forward shaped, he obviously had a point to prove and proceeded to smash his teammates at every possible opportunity. Unfortunately, after another powerful tackle, he had to go off with a shoulder injury, only to be replaced by another young fit winger. Clearly Chester were not playing by the ‘give them the worse player we have’ rules. Whenever we lend players to the opposition, we usually give them Campo.
Another break initiated by McCleery nearly ended in another try for Sefton in the left corner, but Chester scrambled back to prevent the try. Eventually Sefton were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts, an easy three points you’d think, but Devlin sliced the kick wide of the posts.
It’s about this time that things started to go wrong for Sefton, with firstly Ivan ‘the terrible’ Ardon coming off with a back injury, and then Paul Walker with a calf injury.
Sefton managed to hold out and actually compete despite thirteen players, with Tom Houghton and Kiev Mainwaring dominating the scrum, Jay Dempsey smashing it up in the forwards, and Simon Buckle and Jonny Orr looking to break the back line. However, they were eventually out done when the ball was dropped at a lineout. Chester were quickly onto the ball and shipped it out to the backs, where they went over for a converted try just before half time.
At half time we all waited for Princess’ wise words of wisdom, but he countered with “I have nothing to say”. How dare he, how is he going to hone his leadership skills, and more importantly, I was relying on this being a match report feature. He did however suggest we tackled more.
The second half didn’t start well for Sefton. Immediately Chester get the ball wide out to the winger, a scrawny young lad, no older than seventeen, but very fast. He preceded to go round our defence, leaving Campo at full back grasping at the air that he once occupied.
It’s as if Chester had finally grasped the holy grail of enlightenment. Realising that if they passed it wide away from the forwards, and used the extra man, they could score every time. This was now the norm, with the left winger getting the ball and Campo flinging himself on the ground as the winger skipped past him. In his enthusiasm, he has unwittingly invented a new sport based on air guitar, where talentless people pretend to have some skills. We could call it ‘air tackling’, I’m sure there are many at Sefton that would exceed in this more passive form of tackling.
Owen Devlin didn’t help with his re-starts going directly down the middle, allowing their fast set of backs to shift the ball out wide, I didn’t think I would be wishing for Jonny Orr to take over the kicking. After the seventh time, campo got quite attached to the back view of the wingers boots. So much so, that Campo and ‘Matty’ were on first term names. It was lovely to see the relationship blossoming.
Sefton did have their chances, often working their way into Chester’s half only to lose the ball and be caught on the counter-attack. In the end the injuries proved too costly for Sefton against a young, quick, set of backs.
The whole team put in a committed and exceptional performance. I would like to know what’s up with Buckle though, he's now consistently pulling off top quality appearances, we may have to reconsider the chipboard similarity. Tom Houghton provided much of the forward momentum even though he carried a shoulder injury through most of the match, and Jay Dempsey also proved a handful at back row. Another full game for Mark Dobie, he must be getting towards 50% fit by now, and he does love an away game.
Owen Devlin was a whirlwind, to the point that we wondered why he was so hypoactive, revealing later that he may have had too much caffeine, this didn’t help with his kicks though. The Man of the Match went to Paddy McCleery on his début game. I wonder how long it will take before the first team add him to their increasing scrum-half collection. Surprising he only had a couple of Guinness' after the match, I'm not sure now, if he's really Irish.
The team shouldn’t be too disgruntled, with most of the match one man down, at one stage two down. However, I have to ask where all these young colts we’re promised are? Is Mikey Morgan hoarding them in his little harem? With a team consisting a number of veterans, some quite happy with half a game, you have to ask, where is the cavalry?
After the match Blind Stevie requested some ice for his bruised and battered legs. He comes into the changing rooms with a bag of water and a big smile on his face. No one had the heart to tell him that he hadn’t won a goldfish.
This week Growlers was not very well at 3.00, however by 4.30 he was feeling tip-top better, even able to enjoy a few beers.
All bets are off
Rumour has it that Mikey Morgan has retired from third team captaincy. Five games, I don’t think anyone bet on him lasting that long, unless he put a sneaky bet on himself. Someone get the key to his harem, let them poor lads out.
Next week the seconds are at home against Aldwinians, off now to buy Blind Stevie a goldfish, even with his poor eyesight that piece of carrot peel isn’t going to fool him for long.