These words came to mind as I had the challenging decision between playing my second game of the season for the Ravens against top of the table Heaton Moor (even though I had only come out of retirement the previous week against Buxton) or supporting the Wolves against top of the table Sandbach. The decision was clear, Mikey Clifford was confident that our good home record would hold up, I turned up to watch the Wolves at the Memorial ground.
Hopeful of a good result, as I always have been for every game I have ever played, I turned up early. The team looked well prepared, the bar was filling up (mainly with the Welsh), and the banter was plentiful. The first 20 minutes didn't go well but the lads showed for the last 20 minutes of the first half. Catching up with Peter Davenport, who I met earlier in season as RFU meeting at Winnington Park, behind posts at half time it was clear we were still in the game and 'Should have had two tries.' Early parts of the second half I was still optimistic but two tries in quick succession closed the door, and the better side won. In my view the lads had done their best, it was impossible to point out a player who didn't stand-up.
At this point a voice from the Sandbach replacement Joel Unsworth shouted out 'How you doing Scanners.' 'Great until those last two tries' I replied, not quite recognising who I was speaking with. How strange is Rugby! Joel I met with in the bar later and it all came flooding back. 10 years earlier Joel was one of the keenest young lads I had ever seen in Wilmslow Juniors. He attended training sessions, first XV games, and in my eyes was a promising rugby talent. Meeting him years later as a successful Teacher at Sandbach school and a member of a successful team made me remember again what great clubs do: nurture talent.
As the Ravens came back from the game I could have played in the banter showed another Wilmslow team who had given their all against a better side and come out with a loss.
Gutted as both teams were the key question remains: did you give your all on the pitch? If the answer is yes the beer can still taste great (After a while).
The same question rang through Mothers day, as I awaited the results from the key Cup semi-finals occurring on the Sunday. The U15’s were up against a brilliantly talented Lymm side, the U16’s had a great chance against a strong Chester side, and the Junior Colts travelled to Yorkshire for North Division Shield Semi-final against Cleckheaton.
The team I was most concerned with was the U15’s, who I had seen entertaining the Canadians so well on the Wednesday evening. The challenge against the Lymm was clear to everyone. The Text messages ran: ‘How did you get on?’; ‘We got hammered by Lymm. It wasn’t a surprise’; ‘Never mind – always next year. Did the boys stand-up’; ‘They did.’ That was enough for me to know, the score was immaterial.
The news from Yorkshire, the Chester game, and Caldy added to the success of the Wolves Development on the Saturday, where a great performance leads to a victory. The Junior Colts, the U16’s, U12's were missing key players, away for representative games (Including Rory Hill contributing to the North of England victory over the Midlands 17-7 - News Item), but still came through. The Junior Colts made heavy weather but came through to win 41-26 (Pictures, Cleckheaton Report, Wilmslow Stats)and the U16’s beat Chester in a close game, winning 14-10 (Report). Finally away against a strong Caldy side the U12's came through 35 - 14 to reach the cup final (Report). The Junior Colts now roll onto Chester next Sunday in the semi-finals of the Cheshire Cup.
Clearly winning isn’t everything : giving of your best is the challenge. I am, as always, a proud Wilmslow ‘Old Fart’ because I know we always do our best and don’t whinge when we loose to the better side.