Wath upon Dearne RUFC enjoyed the experience of a life time on Saturday as they ran out on the hallowed turf of Twickenham Stadium to face off against Wells RUFC for the RFU Senior Vase Semi Final. Whilst in the end the result would not be what everyone hoped for we cannot take away the fact that it was an amazing day for everyone from our small club. For those who were not there and for those who missed parts here is a rundown on this unforgettable weekend.
The players and committee met up at Moor Road at 5pm on Friday, no one was late, things were running perfectly smoothly. For about 5 minutes. Prop Dean Hardcastle pulled up with wife and kids in tow only to speed of seconds later, he had forgotten the one thing he should have remembered above all else. His kit bag, off he went all the way back to Conisborough, only to hit every single red light on the way back to Wath. He eventually arrived back some 30 minutes later, his blood pressure through the roof but we could at last set off. Friday was also kevan west
’s 50th Birthday and he made sure everyone was very aware of this as he donned a silly hat, badge and was well on his way to drunk before stepping foot on the bus! More on Mr West later.
All the players and WAGS were on one bus and the committee and officials on the other. In other words a drunkard’s bus. I cannot comment on the atmosphere on the player’s bus but the atmosphere on the committee bus was jovial. Luckily there was a toilet on the bus so we could drink as much as we wanted but Louise Fisher did point out a flaw with this. The flush button was surprisingly close to the emergency call button, one too many drinks and who knows what could have happened if that button was pressed. Luckily we did not have to find out. One hour and thirty minutes into the journey and Mr Swift was well and truly inebriated, but it is not the Mr Swift you all would assume, no Tom was fine it was in fact his father. He had enjoyed half a bottle of port and tried unsuccessfully to soak it up with a load of dripping sandwiches. The journey south was a smooth one and everyone arrived safely. Once checked in everyone headed down to the bar and all but Mr and Mrs Bird left the bar at a reasonable hour.
Onto match day, the news feed on the Wath Facebook page made it clear everyone was extremely excited for the game and the first appearance of our new mascot Yowly. At 7am I received a text from a very hungover owl who admitted that until then he had been a rubbish mascot, showing up just in time for the bus and falling asleep. However Mr Banana Man held the fort down until he recovered. BBC Radio Sheffield and the South Yorkshire times came down to see the supporters off and all set off safely. There was however one casualty, Tom Mullen missed the bus but was saved by the offer of a lift from his friends mum so he would get to see the game. Yowly blames Mullen for the state he was in on Saturday so maybe this was karma. Anyway, everyone eventually set off ok from Moor Road and the drinking began at 7am. Dave Hamshaw found himself on the “party bus” and was duly fined a shot of port and a tinny for being the only person in a suit on that bus. The players left the hotel at 10am followed by the WAGS a little while later.
All the supporters arrived at the stadium together just in time to see that lads have the team photo in front of the Spirit of Rugby. As the lads walked out they were given a taster of what was to come from the incredible Wath supporters. All photos were taken and the supporters made their way into the stadium whilst the players went to warm up. Our 6 committee Members Steve and Shirley Corns, Ali and Louise Fisher and Phil Ardron and Tony Swift were enjoying the hospitality of the Royal box, most importantly the free booze. With three Yorkshire clubs at the stadium on the day the Wath supporters went to offer their support to Baildon against Harrow in the first final. With 10 minutes to go the score was 6-3 to Baildon and so a very tense finish on the cards. Baildon held out and celebrated their superb victory, cheered on by the increasing number of Wath supporters entering the ground.
Wath upon Dearne RUFC were now five minutes away from kick off. Match day mascot 5 year old Alex Burrows made his way down to his dad, Captain Matt Burrows, donning a replica kit. Alex has since said of the chance to run out at Twickenham with his dad, "it was the best day of my life!" I should point at that the Wath supporters were outnumbered by about 100 to the Wells supporters. But throughout the game this wouldn’t make any difference, the Yorkshire supporters were in superb voice. As the lads emerged from the tunnel the Baildon players who were all still on the pitch turned to the Yorkshire half of the stand and began the chant of “Yorkshire!” that would echo throughout the game. The players stood arm in arm and soaked up the atmosphere in front of them. The stadium was nowhere near full but as youngster Ashley Rothery said after wards “the sound coming from the Wath and Yorkshire supporters was unbelievable.” It was an emotional moment for many as they looked out at our lads during one of the most memorable moments in the clubs history. The players met the RFU President and then headed out onto the pitch.
To the match itself. Wells RUFC were unknown opposition but very early on it became clear that they were a class side with a solid game plan and the ability to play to their strengths. Although quite a bit smaller than the Moor Road men there defensive efforts throughout were outstanding and the pace of the back three would prove a thorn in the Wath side. The game would prove to be one of two halves as Wells came out firing whilst Wath struggled to get a hold of the game, missed tackles, handling errors and a couple of daft penalties would cost Wath dearly as they went into half time with a 23-0 deficit to try to overcome. However the half wasn’t all bad by any means, with the score at 6-0 following two Wells penalties Wath would enjoy much of the territory and possession as the forwards played through a number of phases. The half would end with the Moor Road men in the ascendency; firstly Captain Matthew Burrows
and Ashley Rothery made telling breaks through the Wells midfield. Wath earned a penalty which was expertly (no luck involved honest) kicked to the Wells 5 metre line. However the lineout was turned over, but Wath was able to get the ball back. The ball was spun wide and fly Half Martyn Bray
barrelled over his opposite number before popping to Andy Hopkin,who raced towards the line and looked to have scored in the corner, however the ball was judged to have been held up. Despite Waths efforts in the last five minutes the half would end 23-0 to Wells.
At half time Mr West entertained the crowd, dressed as Wheres Wally, for no apparent reason I might add, he could be seen sat alone in the empty East stand of the stadium. The match stewards eventually caught up with him and Wally was returned to his fellow supporters.
Into the second half and the fight back began. Wath made their intentions clear immediately as Lock Richard Hill
made his rather large presence felt from the kick off with a thundering tackle. Wath were maintaining possession well and playing at pace and one early foray into the Wells 22 earned them a penalty which Anthony Barratt duly slotted. The first Wath points had been scored at Twickenham. However Wells would increase their lead after Wath tried to run the ball from their own 22 and paid the price as the lively Wells 10 intercepted a wayward pass to score in the corner. From here on in however it was pretty much all Wath as they looked to master a famous comeback. Bray was the first to go close to scoring after he broke through the Wells centre pairing but fumbled the ball in contact inches from the line. Wath however remained patient and set up a driving maul in the 22. Wath surged towards the line and the Wells pack was forced over its own line for lock Richard Hill
to grab the score. He would later be fined for a rubbish celebration with his very own “Ave it!” moment. The ball was converted superbly from the touchline by Barratt. It was here that Wath would lose scrum half Joe Bartlett
, in a mirror image of last year’s Silver Trophy final the Wath scrum half could remember nothing of the game. Replacement wing Ben Keen
was the next to go close as he raced over the try line. But he was brought back for a forward pass. Urged on by the brilliant Yorkshire crowd Wath pressed on. Young flanker Ethan Dyson entered the fray and was immediately in the thick of the action. He handed off a Wells defender outside the 22 and sprinted towards the line. The cover tackle was outstanding and so he was brought to ground five metres out. Again Wath remained patient and the ball was moved quickly through hands for Burrows to surge over to score. Wells would however appear to put the game beyond reach with a penalty from their first real foray into the Wath half. Despite this Burrows men continued to fight and again urged on by the ever vocal crowd centre Steve Mason
scored after another display of superb team work. With that we saw a very rare appearance of the phenomenon that is "angry mason." Before the game was over Hopkin got within inches of scoring following a Keen break but the ball was lost in grounding. The final whistle went and Wells celebrated their deserved victory.
Wath were of course extremely disappointed, rueing what might have been had the first half been anywhere near as good as the second, but ultimately Wells’ strong start and defiant defence meant they deserved the win. Burrows led his men in applause to the loyal supporters who had shouted them on so loudly throughout, a truly great moment as the players showed their appreciation to the hundreds of fans. The lads climbed the steps of Twickenham to receive their runners up medals and were consoled/kissed by Shirley Corns in the Royal box, the lads were happy it wasn’t Steve kissing them I’m sure.
Wath made their way to the post match speeches and President Phil Ardron unbelievably kept his speech short, but made sure it was full of good old Yorkshire humour! He put it perfectly when he said “of course the lads are disappointed now, but in twenty years’ time when they’re propping up the bar in the clubhouse regaling the younger generation of the day they ran out at Twickenham, they will look back only with amazing memories. And who knows after one too many beers the result may change!” There can be no doubt that despite the result it was the opportunity of a lifetime for the Wath lads and they should be immensely proud of their efforts throughout the competition and the season as a whole, all the supporters, volunteers, and coaches certainly are.
Onto the post-match fun and Wath headed en mass to Twickenham rugby club and Chelsea Dagger danced the night away on not so sturdy tables. Swift was again on top form as he had come up with a new catch phrase for the club, it is too strange to explain but for those that were there…….. WOOOOOSSSSHHHH!!!!
The fines took place, initially without the fines master Buzz Lightyear, aka Andy Hopkin, poor form for the fines master to be late to the session. Coach Dave Battersby
was forced into shot drinking and pint downing in celebration of his birthday and 30 minutes later 14 bottles of shots were gone, (not all by Batts though!) The lads were treated to jugs of lager thanks to team sponsors Hire Fitness and the partying was well and truly under-way.
It is at this point that I should re-iterate the age old adage of “what goes on tour stays on tour” but there are a few snippets that are suitable for publication.Mr Swift Chelsea Dagger danced so much he broke a chair, nearly squashed two children and soaked himself in beer; he carried on dancing and “whooshing” regardless. As a result he earned himself legendary status in the history of Wath Rugby club for having everyone in stitches at some point during the weekend. The Twickenham rugby club people almost incapacitated half our team as they offered out chilli vodka shots, watery eyes and lots of coughing later the horrendous after effects eventually wore off and Minnie the Moocher and Sunshine Mountain was in full voice. On the journey back to the hotel Dale Jackson treated everyone to a rendition of the Wath Rover with a wonderful addition to the chorus courtesy of our resident Dinosaur (Jonty Morrisey
Eventually Wath returned to the hotel and continued the fun in the bar; a gymnastics competition broke out with special mentions to Mr Bus Driver Man and Steve Corns
. There was however only one winner. Dave Battersby
the Birthday Boy! I don’t think it is possible to give this enough credit in writing but I will try my best. As he emptied his pockets in preparation for his display, wife Jane knew something impressive was to come. To start with he executed a perfect roly poly, followed up by a cart-wheel; he then smashed his head on the wall. Us Yorkshire folk are made of stern stuff though, he returned to his feet and produced another cart wheel. He appeared to land it perfectly but stumbled back a little. At that precise moment the lift that he was stood in front of opened. You guessed it, he fell into the lift! Two startled hotel guests looked down and Batts smiled meekly as the lift ascended. Some 30 seconds later the lift returned to the ground floor and out jumped Batts for the perfect finish to an incredible routine. The image and re-telling of the event had everyone in stitches for the remainder of the weekend.
Secretary Alistair Fisher did not want to be left out and so an hour or so later did a little display of his own, as he leant in to listen to a story from Woof he leant that little bit too far. Cue the slowest fall in the history of the world and poor Lisa Bird attempting to scramble out of the way of the falling committee man, in an attempt to avoid injury. This was just about successful as Fisher only injured himself not Mrs Bird. Mali did his usual trick of being a mile behind everyone in his drinking round before trying to slope of to bed, Megan Sanderson was on hand to make sure he didn't get away with it. More alcohol was drunk before people went off in search of food. Our resident Dinosaur threw Westy into a bush for no apparent reason, before getting himself a job at Dominos down the road as a delivery boy. His CV was superb and so he was given the job on the spot. However it has since come to light that they will not be paying him travel time and so he has had to resign!
The sights at breakfast were not pretty, but most managed to stomach something before boarding the bus. Joanne Sanderson made sure she had plenty of carrier bags just incase! Sally Corns made everyone laugh whenever she attempted to speak, her voice completely gone as a result of the day before. Once aboard the bus the beer was out again and 1 hour 30 minutes later the first can of Carling was drunk, from there on in the rest went down much easier. Mali kept everyone entertained with a shocking amount of stories on the stomach troubles of past and present rugby club members and other highly amusing (mainly drunken stories.) Everyone arrived safely back at the club greeted by the ever loyal supporters and the Chelsea Dagger dancing and Bay city Rollers singing continued into the night.
A huge thankyou to everyone who contributed to the day, in particular Joanne Sanderson who had the unenviable task of organising everyone. The players would like to pass on their huge thanks to all the supporters, as full back Anthony Barratt said “Thanks to all our supporters for making the trip down yesterday and making loads of noise, at least we won the battle of the fans!” The players did the supporters, the club, the team and themselves proud and have made some amazing memories that will never be forgotten. Who’d have ever thought we would be able to say The Moor Road men played at Twickenham!