Finsbury Park vs. Hendon
By Alex Thomas
by Chris Green
Gone are the miserable wet and windy days of winter, the summer has arrived! A perfect day for running rugby, a perfect day for spreading the ball wide, a terrible day to be a front five forward.
“When the meet time is 1.15pm, it means the meet time is 1.15pm”. These were the words of the returning captain, back from his sabbatical to New Zealand, perhaps someone fortunate to not make his deboooo in the second row as the previous Number 8 incumbent Daniel Thomas prioritised moving house over adding to his appearances for the far superior team in Haringey. Surely when the captain speaks, everyone listens. 1.15pm….no later.
Cut to this reporters surprise when the clock chimes (I know a phone doesn’t chime – but this is for effect) for 1.16pm and the great captain himself is nowhere to be seen. I am not one to speculate his late arrival, but in any case, we had close to a full team 45 minutes before kick-off, perhaps a first for Finsbury Park this season. Honourable mentions to the players who did turn up on time, particularly Hugo Murray, who not only turned up by 1.15pm, but also managed to knock 20 years of his age in the space of 4 days. Some say his Tinder profile will improve with the removal of his beard, others are yet to be convinced.
Particular special mention should also be made for Izzy, managing to force himself to arrive less than one hour after the scheduled meet time. The sight of our starting front row plodding across the Downhills Park path with 15 minutes before kick-off is a scary one for all opponents. This would be the last path plod of Izzy’s day……more of that to come later.
The game was hotly anticipated. Hendon had been on form, 8 wins in a row. Already dispatched of Hitchin. Park needed to step up and make a statement in the league. The same clichéd chat started before the game, “be better than your opposite number”, “who is going to make that first hit”. A new one for me, and a potentially illegal one came from the angry Irish man starting in the back row;
“Chaz, I want you to ram your fist down their throats”.
Whether Paul Baker was referring to the required intensity of the game, or his sexual fantasies, the intent was clear.
After Owain Luckwell, Frazer Findlater and the ref had a discussion about the best hair bands to keep a top knot in place, it was finally time for kick off.
Clearly Rory Sheppard had been listening to the pre-match clichés as his opening hit drove the Hendon opponent into touch and set Park in good field position in the early moments. I think Evan Gwilliam may have also been involved in this tackle, but as his main love of rugby is to “smoke c****”, I don’t think he will mind not getting a mention in this one.
The first 15 minutes went by with Park knocking on the door to open the scoring. Frazer tested the Hendon defence with not one but two grubbers, even this reporter (not known for his kicking) manage to kick the ball without it going out on the full, but still no breakthrough. That was until, Chaz Dempsey, fresh from his birthday, not looking a day over 35, broke through a number of Hendon tackles to set Park up 5 metres from the line. The forwards, all suffering from try line fever, tried once or twice, before the backs showed them how it was done and Frazer forced his way over the line. Backs showing the forwards how it done could be a theme for this report. You’d wonder what position this reporter plays. When a try is scored, some would say the chance of a conversion is 50/50, this time…the conversion was good; 7-0 Park.
A favourite past time of Finsbury Park is to give away penalties. Penalty Bingo was going strongly; not rolling away – check, not releasing in the tackle – check, high tackle – check (Izzy’s hilarious tackle described by Hugo Murray as a typical prop tackle). Step up Alex Wood. Making his first start for the 1s team this year, clearly not happy with the meagre one obligatory post match skull, he wanted a second, as he folded the opposition scrum half like a deck chair from IKEA. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for Hendon, the scrum half didn’t have the ball and Woody had come in from the side. Yellow Card. 10 minutes on the sideline. DOT……….not quite, you can’t win DOTD if you don’t hang around for post-match drinks. Clever.
In honesty, I can’t remember the next 10 minutes or so. Mainly because Hendon were attacking. But I know they scored a converted try and a penalty. So let’s just say the score went to 7-10.
It was again Finsbury Park time to attack, the backs were making yards, Paul Baker broke through a gap only to run away from support like Red Rum running away from the field in a grand national. A try was inevitable and sure enough it came. The ball was spread wide, another overlap for the wingers out wide and according to Rohan, Rory weaved through the opposition to dot down for the second try for Park. The conversion was missed but the try meant Park were leading 12-10 at half time.
As standard for these match reports, the second half write up will probably be much shorter than the first. Partly because we can’t remember much of the game, but mostly through boredom of writing this report.
The half started as if Finsbury Park were down to 14 men once more….but Woody had returned by this point I think. Hendon worked their way to 5 metres out, pick and go, pick and go, pick and go.
Now as Patrick Joyce was not at the game to witness this event, and also on the basis that this reporter did nothing of note in attack, I will shamefully plug a Pocock-like turnover underneath our own posts to win a penalty. One a game Paddy, one a game. This turnover was something that back-row Dan Brennan could only dream of. Oh sorry, for those of you who don’t know, Dan Brennan used to play rugby for Finsbury Park, got a girlfriend and hasn’t been seen since. Looks a bit like Rag & Bone Man? Alan from the Hangover? A chubby Jack Black? Used to be PCDC’s housemate? Once voted dick of the day by Shin Ando for putting on too much weight? Ahh never mind, clearly a forgotten man.
Something then clicked with Finsbury Park and defence quickly turned to attack. Aengus Ryan and his intensely deep heated pasty white legs broke several tackles, Will Corcoran proved not only is he useful behind the camera he is also useful in front of the odd iPhone and Richard Farmer showed how a back can move so seamlessly into the forwards. Park plugged away at the Hendon line before Owain Luckwell snuck through a gap that Andy Dufrense would be proud of (fun fact – apparently that is how you spell the Shawshank Redemption guys surname). The conversion was missed (50/50, more like 40/60) but the score went up to 17-10 to Park.
A win would be good, a bonus point win might see Evan Gwilliam spewing up in the Fallback later that evening. So Finsbury Park attacked again and worked their way up to the Hendon line once more. Again, try line fever overcame the forwards, Aaron Carter (fresh from just 4 pints the night before), Graham Rutherford (unbelievably without a speck of blood on his head yet) and Ruaridh Nicholls (with the stature of a fly half in the Under 12s)…each had to a go but Hendon had built a wall stronger than Trump’s planned wall with Mexico. Step forward, Hugo Murray, clearly refreshed from his week off on the Bumble scene, picking the perfect ‘Green’ line that only Dan Brennan could dream of……nah I’m not doing that again…….a perfect ‘Green’ line only Mike Ruxton could dream of……nope, still no takers……..a perfect ‘Green’ line only Chris Neels could dream of. (sorry Chris, I had to pick someone and figured you’d take it the best). Try scored and converted. 24-10 to Park.
Now not much happened between Hugo’s try and the full time whistle. Hendon scored again but we can forget about that. However an Oscar should be awarded to the returning captain, Evan Gwilliam, who’d perhaps been to drama school rather than New Zealand, demonstrating twice his passion for amateur dramatics with screams and yelps of pain during the final few minutes. For those who didn’t hear it, imagine Paul shoving his fist down someone’s throat and you get the idea.
In the excitement of finishing this report, I almost forgot to mention the match ending injury for Izzy. With similar screams of pain, some say that 6 people is the most ever required to carry a Finsbury Park player off the pitch but they eventually got there. Even the shredding of Izzy’s sock could not ruin the enjoyment of this win.
Full Time. Finsbury Park 24-15 Hendon. Bonus Point Win. 4 more games to win the league.
I think I’ve mentioned everyone who played a part in the win excluding Fred Bromley, who deserves a special mention for setting up the pitch at half 12. However, he unfortunately had to shoot off early, depriving every one of the opportunity to see his tight fitting, little, burgundy women’s gilet once again.
I’ve also forgotten to mention Morgan, but most of you have probably memorised the paragraph about him being late already, so no need to write it again.
MOTM: Rory Sheppard
DOTD: Evan Gwilliam