As per usual, the week started as any other, wondering about what opposition would show and who would be available to face them. Thurrock confirmed they’d come down, so the push for a strong squad started in earnest. With some people away for mid-term, it was good to see some old faces popping up to fill the gaps, a first game of the season for Chris E & Joe W included.
Some logistical issues (Eton Manor borrowing 3rd pitch meant 6 teams to get changed) saw about 35 Bancroft players cram into one changing room… but that didn't seem to hinder the Spartans, taking things in their stride as always. The usual suspects took care of the post-pads & flags (who put one pad upside down??) while the rest got themselves ready to do battle.
Spartan pressure from the start saw the game being played in Thurrocks half, a try the just reward for the efforts put in by the pack, the wind ruining Bens chances of a conversion. A second try resulting from a great effort by Nathan was a little easier to convert, with Iain launching the ball almost across the river!
Thurrock did shake off the early struggles and came straight back with a converted try of their own. Iain made himself an early nomination for WOW by needing a break since he forgot his inhaler… on came Joe W. The game flowed up and down, with last minute rescues and little mistakes preventing further Spartans scores. Half time 12-7
The second half started with some substitutions, the bench emptied so all would have at least half a game. Initially it seemed the close score would remain, with both sides working hard but unable to add to the score line. But the Spartan pack once again started to dominate their opposition, constant pressure across the pitch forced Thurrock back and into mistakes. Add to that the hard lines ran by all that got their hands on the ball and more tries were unavoidable, several duly converted by Nick W.
After the referee sorted out some ‘handbags’ and then had a word regarding some off the ball issues, it was a matter of time before he’d decide to take action - who else than Chris E being the recipient of a (team) yellow.
A few interruptions and injury treatments meant our game lasted a bit longer than the others, the 1st team reaching the pitch just in time to witness the final whistle and cheer on the victorious Spartans - this win meant winning the league! Cue celebrations!!
As always, big thanks to those putting their bodies on the line for each other, and Chris / Andy / Dan for pulling all sorts of strings to get this squad together.
MOM… everyone put in a great shift, several nomination of outstanding work:
Nathan for hard lines & hard tackles, Joe M for again a good game, Gabby for a great shift all over the park (personal highlight was that diving interception - where did that come from?), but the vote went to Joe W for his ferocious tackling and running, first as flanker and later as centre.
WOW… a couple of nominations for a change - Nick R for apparent try avoidance, Iain for his missing inhaler, but as per Spartan rules, a card trumps it all, so Chris gallantly took the ‘punishment’
One extra chair was added for the pints - Spartans manager Chris Cann took the deserved applause and finished his pint in double quick time.
Last league game of the season, so a few thank you’s are in order:
Thanks to Chris & Andy for relentlessly chasing the players to make sure there was a squad to take to the field each week.
Thanks to Nick R & Dan L for leading by example on the pitch throughout the season.
Thanks to the dozens of players turning up to do battle, some old faces back in the fold, some new faces joining the Spartan brotherhood, some friends helping out.
And last but not least, the trio of coaches, Rob, Charlie & James,for looking after us all season and keeping training fun & interesting.