Yet another splendiferous night was enjoyed by Vigo RFC at the Annual Dinner & Dance/Awards Ceremony at The Thistle Hotel, Brands Hatch. As usual, the ladies looked splendid, so accustomed at seeing them wrapped up against the cold of the winter, it really is so nice to see them in their evening finery. The chaps, too, looked well turned out in suits or dinner jackets.
After your correspondent was revived with smelling salts after being informed of the cost of a round, the alcohol flowed rather freely, rather too freely, I feel, judging by your correspondent’s health this morning, it has to be said.
Whatever, a meal of spicy tomato soup, chicken or pork and profiteroles was enjoyed by the assembly before the Awards Ceremony got under way.
Before I forget, there was a brief interlude when the 200 Club was drawn. Third prize was won by Andrew Carslaw, second to Robbie Hayes. There were two big first place winners in Andy Owens and Kevin Checksfield. Some people were asking how to join the 200 Club – well, see Cynthia who will enrol you into the scheme. £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win the big prize of £500 in the quarterly draw, with lesser prizes of £250 and £150 . You gotta be in it to win it.
Then there was rather a bizarre form of stand up/sit down bingo which entailed guessing facts about our coaches, Mark and Elliot. As the table comprising their best mates and partners - who knew them better than anyone - were all knocked out by the third round, they appeared to be rather obscure facts. Anyway Holly Caton was the eventual winner of a handsome sum.
On to the Awards Ceremony introduced by the President in his own imitable style, who thanked Paula and Lisa for organising the evening. He thanked Robbo and Elliot for their excellent coaching, and noted departing committee members in Helen merchant and Mark Mickleburgh and thanked them for all their hard work. He also welcomed President Elect, Mike Hayes , and pointed out that on his watch, he had gained promotion, had a crèche built, floodlights installed (hopefully) and seen all three teams promoted. Follow that, Mike!
After a couple of typically non-PC jokes, third team captain, Mark Murphy was awarded Players Player of the year for the third team and came to the mike. He thanked the players for their outstanding effort in coming third in the league, especially when there were some Committee members who thought it would be impossible to raise three regular teams. The fact we did was hugely down to the tireless effort by Mark to chase, harry, cajole and blackmail enough players to raise a team. The fact that Vigo Extra A XV were unable to raise a team on just one occasion should be viewed with considerable pride. Matt Griffiths finished as top try scorer, while Rob Jones and Ian Chapman played in every game. Mark went on to mention Sam Andrews who, sadly, had to retire from rugby after injury, and said that Sam had brought many attributes to the game (apart from being offside and figuring in many’ blue on blue’ incidents) and will be sorely missed. He also went on to thank his partner, Cynthia, for her patience understanding and culinary skills in providing players grub (along with Nettie) on so many Saturdays. He also promised to set a date for marriage this year!!
The Most Improved Player for the Third XV went to Warren Lee. The Player of the Year was a difficult choice between Rob Jones and Ian Chapman, but finally he plumped for the big man, Deano, after much deliberation.
Dan Couchman, ostensibly second team captain, was next up to offer his thanks and awards. Although being required by the First XV for the whole of the season, this ultimate club man, was still heavily involved in second team selection and succeeded in his aim to lower the age of the A XV. He went on to acknowledge the support of Wilf and Mark Murphy, the coaches, the ‘managers’ (Lee, Anita and Kelly), Kevin Checksfield (who got the shirts laundered each week), the Bar Staff, the Press Officer and the supporters. He went on to make the awards. Most Improved player was Jake French, who was unable to attend, but whose immensely proud mother collected the trophy on Jake’s behalf. Players Player was won by Dave Dun, in a closely fought battle with Nick Haigh. The Captain’s Award for Best Player went to the ageless and remarkable, Bob Fitton, another true club man.
First team Captain, Andy Wilford, took over the mike for the First Team awards. Andy congratulated all three teams for a remarkable season, and gave special thanks to those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes – the Committee, Chris Brimson, Andy Carslaw, Cynthia and Nettie, the Beales, Brent and Sue the physios, Kelly, Alan and Trevor, and especially the supporters. The solid foundation of the team laid by Tony Spiers and Jim Monks was built upon with spectacular effect by Mark Robinson and Elliot Blackmore, who have down a fantastic job of getting promotion in their first year as Senior Coaches, and received Andy’s heartfelt thanks. He went on to thank all those players who had put their body on the line, not just for the First team but all three teams. He made mention of Matt Griffiths, top try score for the third XV, Rob Jones and Ian Chapman, of Bob Fitton and Phil Checksfield who had made the breakthrough in his first season in senior rugby. Andy went on to say that last year the First XV had won half their games but this year he was immensely proud of winning the play off game against Burgess Hill, but this win had been set up by the Cranbrook game - a game we had to win and win we did.
Andy also mentioned the fact that three new babies had been born this year to players – Findlay, Grace and Effie, and tempered that by remembering the sad death of Reg Pattison. Andy said that Reg would have loved to have been there to see Vigo win promotion to London South East 3. Alas, it was not to be.
Then there came the awards. Light-heartedly Matt Valentine won a special award for the heinous crime of leaving the Tour early – perhaps understandably on meeting his partner! Try of the Season was won by Luke Spiers for his effort away at Old Gravesendians. Most Improved Player was won by Kieron Fenn, after a close run thing with Pete Hayward and Dominic Carslaw. Player’s Player went to Dave Winstone after his superb season, culminating in a marvellously controlled game against Burgess Hill. The Player Of The Year was a difficult choice, but finally went to Jamie Caton, whose try won promotion.
Back to Nigel then for the two special awards. The Maracca Shield was finally prised out of the grip of Dave Dunn and was awarded to Dave Wiltshire.
The Ashwell Shield for Services to the Club was awarded to Steve Beale, for the immense contribution he has made to the fabric of the Club this season.
Thus ended the Awards. But not the evening as more drinks flowed and the congregation displayed their terpsichorean skills to the splendid disco. A jolly night was had by all.