The Princess Prophecy
This was a relegation match, win and Sefton stay up, lose and the Princess prophecy comes true.
What a journey, there has been lows, and there has been……… well actually that’s it, just lows. However, it all came down to this one match, a must win match. That’s if we wanted to stay up. I’m not one to throw a match, but if there was a choice next season of losing most of our matches, or winning most of our matches, going down would be the sensible option.
--------- Princess sHambling’s State of Mind -----------
Last week was the worst I’d seen him. His eyes were red, he was a sickly white, and he had that desperate look on his face. With a Wailing Wall category 9.5, I honestly thought he wasn’t going to make it through the week. Me, Blandie and Campo took turns on a twenty-four hour constant visual just to make sure.
With the game cancelled on Thursday night, we could all breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that at least he would last another week, after that his job was done, and then we didn’t care what mental state he was in.
This week he was quite different, slipping down to WW category 1, he came skipping into the clubhouse with the smile back on his face. His reign had almost ended at long last, what the history books will say about his short period in power, we have yet to see. It could go down as folklore, ‘the Princess that never stopped crying’. A story to scare small children.
Asked what he would do next, he said he might become a bomb disposal specialist, or maybe some charity work in Syria, something less stressful.
With the seconds and thirds both at home, the club was awash with homies. I even thought I saw Mickey Morgan hanging around the changing rooms. Do you remember him, his brief taste of third team captaincy ending as quickly as a night out with Campo.
The second’s had a hard task, against third place Holmes Chapel, but if they could overcome them and win, they would jumps ahead of New Brighton, and safe from relegation. Equally doomed was Collegiate, who were playing Kendal on one of Sefton’s pitches. A sly bet was placed, on who would lose by the most.
The game was refereed by Roy Gladdon in his last ever official game, surely he would do his best to let us win.
To Sefton’s surprise Holmes Chapel weren’t the dominant force we predicted. They tried their best to pass the ball wide and get around Sefton’s defence, but Sefton weren’t having any of it. The props Brian Gardner and Kiev Mainwaring gave Holmes Chapel’s front row a hard time, the hooker having more than a wiff of alcohol on his breath. Luke Griffiths was equally dominant in the lineout, collecting all his own ball, and disrupting theirs.
It was the backs that produced the chances though, actually having some proper centres with Shaun Williams, and new boy Jonno, expertly removed from the third team by Princess. Some swift hands allowed Lawrance Gillen to go over for an early try, which was smoothly converted by Jay Evans.
Sefton weren’t going to make it easy for themselves however, because shortly after the restart, Holmes Chapel intercepted a pass as Sefton tried to run it out of their twenty-two (obviously someone has been watching the first team), strolling in for an easy try.
Another try by Lawrance Gillen put Sefton back on track, when Jay Evans put a kick behind their defence for Gillen to collect, and run round under the posts, again converted by Evans.
A penalty kick by Evans, further increased Sefton’s lead.
Holmes Chapel started to put pressure on Sefton in the closing period of the half, and Sefton eventually succumbed to this with their forwards breaking over the line.
I had a strange conversation with Rob 'the lethal weapon' behind the posts after the try, when he asked "when can I hit the winger?"
"Never Rob, you'll get a red card" I replied.
"Not even after the match?"
It's not usual I'm stuck for words.
A five point lead at the break gave Sefton hope, and they started the most positive at the re-start, with the Jordanian Experiment coming on to hopefully inject a bit of pace.
A lineout set Sefton up, with the ball quickly shifted wide to Rob ‘the lethal weapon’ on the wing. His pace was unmatched and he was able to beat both his opposite winger, and the covering full back on the outside to go over. Naturally he gave everyone flashbacks of his fumbled disallowed try a few weeks ago, as he again delayed putting the ball down until there was several defenders upon him. His excuse was he wanted to get the ball closer to the posts. Converted by Evans.
Another kick through and Gillen is away again, but this time the full back catches him, or was it a clear case of jug evasion? Support was quickly there though, with the opposition also scrambling back. Pistol Pete finds himself with the ball and a large gap in the defence suddenly opens up for him (this always happens when the Jordanian is playing, I suspect miracle forces at work). It was at least twenty metres to the try line though, a distance not yet attempted by our ‘two step’ Pete, but he went for it anyway, encouraged by cheers from the side line. Amazingly he made it unscathed, though fighting for breath, he finished with a dive over the line. The crowd went wild, all ten of them, I could almost see him in the colosseum, shouting “are you not entertained?" Yes I am Pete, yes I am! This was it, we were breezing through, scoring tries for fun, we’re in danger of actually staying up.
Then it all goes horribly wrong. Firstly, another intercepted try is scored, next we try to clear our lines, and the kick is charged down allowing Holmes Chapel to ground the ball for a try. We were still two points ahead though, surely the victory couldn’t be taken from our grasp. With ten minutes to go, Holmes Chapel run another try in and Sefton find themselves behind for the first time.
This is when Sefton suddenly wake up, and start to play again, pinning the opposition down in their half. However, despite several plays on their line, Sefton were unable to convert it to points, and they are acquiescent to their fate.
Man of the match went to Shaun Williams for his attack and defence in the centres, it is just a shame he hasn’t been available for more games this season. He will be off now for some intensive mirror watching, perhaps if we put various mirrors around the ground, we will see him more often.
At last the season is over, and we all breath a sigh of relief. I liken it to the film ‘Trading Places’, about a down-and-out nobody, who is transformed into a highly successful market trader, as a bet. The Bush Fighter and I had a similar bet. We would take an emotionally unstable, clueless, sociopath and turning him into a strong, strategic leader of men. I said it couldn’t be done, the Princess prophecy wouldn’t allow it, The Bush Fighter was adamant he could pull this off. He lost the bet.
However, he did stick it out, which is more than can be said for our Captain Morgan, so this is for you Princess, you can now have your life back.
---------- An ode to sHambling -----------
So here we are, Shambling’s nightmare comes to an end,
How could we know he’d send us round the bend.
It didn’t take long for him to become a realist,
As he continually pondered over his injury list.
We thank you James, it’s not that you bled,
But for the big wailing wall, and the many tears shed.
You used to bring something, your one asset was speed,
Because of one hurty knee, you couldn’t play, so you’d lead.
Your selection a shambles, and you understood little,
The leadership clueless, and your emotion’s were brittle.
It was all about winning, and picking only the best,
Not sticking to the faithful, your moral compass went West.
At home with good numbers, against poor Didsbury Toc,
You ditched your second’s players, and the firsts ran amok.
But taking only twelve players, great distances you roam,
Like the orphan Mark Dobie, he never knew home.
Shameful and shameless, you made sHambling your name,
The Piper called Hamling, who leads them away from the game.
The Buckles and Orr’s, losing them was so easy,
Just like shooting the fish of poor little blind Stevie.
It’s not for any good deeds, for what you’ll be known,
Just one little season, and the seed that you’ve sown.
We thank you again, for taking the two’s down,
You’ll always be remembered, as the two’s captain clown.