Singing the blues
It’s fifty miles to Whitchurch, we’ve got a full tank of petrol, a bag of jelly babies, it’s cold and we’ve got the window open. Hit it!
-------- Princess sHambling State of Mind --------
Wailing Wall category 6. It should be higher, I know, but he has accepted his fate, and he is taking us all down with him. His question “So who wants to travel for one and a half hours down to Whitchurch?” was enthusiastically asked by Princess sHambling. As the tumble-weeds roll passed, Princess found out which of the second team were involved, and which were committed.
Jack Beckwith showed his cards immediately, producing his ‘home game only’ card, of which he seems to have a few hidden up his sleeve, (involved, but not committed). Our guaranteed away man, Mark Dobie disgracefully revealed that he was booked for a spa weekend with his wife, only ten minutes down the road from the Whitchurch ground, but claimed no matter how much he pleaded, she wouldn’t release him. I can imagine he really tried hard to get away, during his full body massage and mud pack facial.
Jonny Orr and SPG were committed till late on, when both found excuses to abstain. Jonny showed great ingenuity, by allowing someone to punch him black and blue so he could avoid the trip. It is unsure whether he paid for the pleasure.
Josh Fowell was the big surprise, he who relishes the chance to travel great distances, and get beaten by high scores. When he cries-off, you know you’re in big trouble.
The availability of Tom Houghton and Christian Liggett, eased Princess’ worries slightly, but despite this Sefton left for Whitchurch with a dirty dozen. It would have been less, if we hadn’t been insistent on intercepting the 61 bus from Bootle as it snaked slowly round Liverpool transporting Paddy Walsh. How he thought he could get there on time was bewildering, the reason he left his travel arrangements so late, a haircut!
Princess kindly left me the task of tracking down this mysterious bus with the help of Rob, who has no concept of cold, leaving the window open for most of the journey. This journey to Whitchurch was enhanced by Rob’s insistence on telling us all about his broken arm, and his two year road to recovery. By the time I got to Whitchurch I felt like I had been on two journeys. I’m looking forward to the book coming out, and I’m sure the BBC would be interested in doing a follow up documentary. Any suggestions for a title are greatly appreciated, perhaps, ‘Broken man to superman’ or maybe, ‘Does anybody know where this bit goes?’ are both good suggestions.
With our twelve, we bravely walked out onto the pitch, not daring to tell our warriors that Whitchurch’s first team game had been cancelled. Fortunately, the opposition lent Sefton Brad and Will, so at least we had fourteen.
This didn’t stop the onslaught, with their first score coming from an attack in the centres, expertly off-loading to a support player in the tackle.
Eventually, Sefton were allowed a touch of the ball, and they made the most of it, not knowing when they would see it again. As they edged into the opposition half by use of forward brute strength, Sefton were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Jay Evans (now with a slight stubble on his chin to disguise his boyish looks), kicked it easily between the posts for the three points.
To say that was the last time Sefton got into Whitchurch’s twenty-two was not an understatement. From that point on it was damage limitation as wave upon wave of Whitchurch attacks took its toll on the Sefton defence. Whitchurch’s support play was the difference, no matter how many tackles Sefton made, there was always a player on their shoulder to take the ball on.
The loss of Ciaran Fairclough early in the first half made defending even harder, with Whitchurch having a two player advantage. By the end of the first half Whitchurch were well away and looking for a big score.
Second half was all about small individual victories for Sefton. The forwards had a slight edge in the scrums, making life difficult for the opposition to get clean ball, it seemed both sides were competing for who had the shortest front row. Also, Luke Griffiths had an excellent day jumping in the lineout, achieving 100% on his own ball, and disrupting a lot of theirs.
Tackling also improved, with Jay Evans closing down their stand-off, and Christian Liggett and Tom Houghton relocated to the back line in defence, to fill the gaps and prevent them having the time and space to get the ball out. Paddy McCleary moved into the centres and gave Sefton more balance in attack, and allowed them to string a few attack moves together.
Sefton’s only try came from this positive period with Whitchurch for once being on the back foot. Sefton’s scrum half Will Lever (borrowed from Whitchurch), went blind from a penalty and skirted round the outside, before accelerating away to score under the posts. Jay Evans converted.
With only three tries conceded in the second half, Sefton did improve against a well organised side, but were glad of the final whistle.
Man of the match went to Gez ‘anger management’ Thomas, who had a great battle with his opposite prop, in a game dominated by plenty of scrums. The volatile Welshman was very angry after the match at the lack of commitment from our absent comrades, a feeling felt throughout the team.
The feeling on the way home was one of relief that we probably won’t have to take the long trip to Whitchurch again next season. There are some positives to the prospect of relegation.
We have a string of home games over the next few weeks, I should think certain players will have their longest availability period this season, possibly even available for the next three games. Am I that cynical? Yes I am!