Pied Piper of sHambling
sHambling’s magic flute works perfectly on deterring Sefton players.
He’s back, contrary to my suspicions, Princess sHambling’s didn’t change his name to Patricia and emigrate to Australia. He’s stepped back into his captaincy roll after the Christmas break with new hope and vigour. Not that it did him any good. Someone let it slip that we were playing Bowdon this week, and players got sudden flashbacks to when we played them at their place early on in the season. Hence, their diaries all of a sudden became very full. I don’t think Princess even tried Jim Barlow, who is still in therapy for the trauma of that fateful day.
This Aussie flu virus hasn’t helped, but as Matt Bland pointed out, we’ve had an Aussie virus in the club for years, and we just can’t get rid of him.
---------- Princess sHambling’s State of Mind -----------
I’m not sure if Princess had a good Christmas, I imagine him waking up in a cold sweat after dreaming he needs to find a replacement scrum-half, only to realise with relief he has another week before his recruitment ordeal starts again. His blood pressure was momentarily lowered on Friday night when the third team had to cry-off due to equally low numbers. With his magic flute in hand, it should have left him with a squad of twenty three to use. In his greenness he picked his best eighteen, not taking into account the unreliability of those players. Kurdish Dave was one of these absentees, claiming he thought the game was cancelled (A poor excuse, already used by me as early as 1984, when I wanted to watch Spartacus rather than do my Christmas eve milk round). By Saturday, half an hour before kick-off he was trying to recruit any old lame duck to his cause, with that look of despair etched on his face.
The lame did come to the rescue, luckily some third teamers who weren’t called upon turned up with their boots anyway. Mike Collins and the Jordanian experiment, even No Show, showed up! With a light sprinkling of second teamers, and a predominantly third team, consisting seven eligible front row players, we relished the eighty minute encounter.
As predicted, it did not go well, with the pumped up Bowden pack showing not an ounce of fat, and some fast paced backs outside them. At least Campo at full back had plenty of chances to perfect his new ‘air tackling’ technique, flying through the air and grabbing at nothing except a mouthful of boot. This new form of virtual rugby might really catch on at Sefton for those who fear the contact game. It would complement Mike Collins and Jack Crone’s ‘walking rugby’ that they have mastered.
As for our own attacking options, we carried the ball in a couple of times using the forwards until they tired, then threw the ball blindly out to the backs, were Bobby Cook generally dropped it.
I must admit, I did take a break. Looking at those players avoiding work, I have realised I don’t have to lie down to have a rest, there is a more effective ways of looking like you’re making the effort, but doing nothing. The walking is good, even the ten minutes sin bin, preferred by anger management is effective, and Campo’s hand clapping at the back inspires other people to do the hard graft. But a minor injury will not only allow you to take a break, but allows you to come back on, heroically disregarding your own safety. Therefore I allowed Chris ‘Salad’ McNeil to replace me, and take a break from his ever increasing quota of kids.
Half time couldn’t come fast enough, what we needed was some inspiration, someone who could guide us tactically in the right direction. What we got was Princess suggesting we should tackle more.
The appearance of Adam Marnell did liven things up, as he went about systematically upsetting each of the Bowdon players in turn. He must of read Grant Leary book on ‘how to make friends and be popular’ because they all wanted to ‘interact’ with him.
------------ The Tackle --------------
The tackle must be mentioned, if only to emphasise our commitment to help in the Community. The opposition had also embraced the Government’s “Disabled Integration” program, allowing their 64 year old, 7 stone, blind, one legged, ginger, winger to come on, for the last five minutes, as the 82-0 score line had the result sown up (Oh, I dream of leading by so much, so we could bring Harper and Richie on!).
Anyway, this guy comes on (he has a minder to hold his Labrador), and both teams nod to each other in acknowledgement.
So, in the true spirit of the game, Sefton decide to give Mike Collins the ball (I know, “but he’s a prop”, I can hear you screaming!), yes, but they’ve accommodated their special player, so we should too. We place the ball gently against Mike’s chest and fold his arms over it, then nudge him forward. Now Mike is still adjusting to his new red safety helmet (and crayons), but he can see out now, and decides to target the 64 year old Bowdonian.
(Warning: The following contains descriptive scenes that may affect the feint hearted).
The old guy, sensing danger from his barking Labrador, throws his hands out in defence, only to catch Mike in the cuddly region, sinking wrist deep.
We are all still wondering how the forward moving Mike managed to end up flat on his face, facing his own try line, without the ball, emitting a high pitched wail, that sounded like “riiiibbbsss”! (he seemed pretty experienced at shouting / wailing / breathing, while his face was in the mud?). It was fortunate that it all happened near the touchline, as Mike was rolled off, and the game went on.
Post Script: Yes, I know there may be some of you, besides Mike, who are concerned of his wellbeing (probably only sHamling, who was seen rushing up to him on the side-line, asking if he was available next week), but I can assure you that Mike was fine, he was seen drinking many scotches at Jukebox’s funeral on Monday, looking very dapper in his 3 piece suit, and had managed to get most of the mud off his face.
The whistle blows to the relief of the Sefton players, satisfied that we did 15 points better than last time. At this rate of improvement we could earn a draw after another six games against them.
Man of the Match was a joint affair, with Yacub Thunder doing the hard graft in the forwards, and Bobby Cook, (not for his catching), but for putting in some impressive tackles, which prevented a number of tries.
---------- Other News -----------
Obviously, the main talking point this week was Jukebox’s funeral. In no way a sombre occasion as we remembered with fondness Jukebox’s various exploits. Princess didn’t waste the opportunity, doing a little recruitment drive, enticing player out with a blow of his flute, although asking big Eddie Nichols was a bit far. Next week’s game is away at Winnington Park.
All the bananas in the world unite!