Moles 29 Beccehamians Eclectics 17
Moles now unbeaten in four matches. What’s going on?
On a glorious day for rugby, the Moles welcomed the Beccehamians Eclectics to Rectory Field for what proved to be an entertaining, competitive and, ignoring the usual isolated outbreak of ‘handbags’, played in that spirit which is unique to the sport famously inspired by one William Webb Ellis of Rugby School in the year of our Lord, eighteen-hundred and twenty-three.
In essence and in context BRFC, the Eclectics are from a similar embryo of Mini and Youth section ‘dads, coaches and lads’ and furthermore, are famously endorsed by former 1st XV skipper and de facto ‘Prince’ of the GRFC realm, his ‘Gee-ness’, Robert ‘Bobjit’ Bardell; who is now a resident of the South London Kingdom of Bromley.
Bobjit and his associates gathered a side together of mixed experienced and Moles’ skipper Elvis was overwhelmed with a strong set of players making themselves available to him in view of the 1st XV being the only GRFC team with a league fixture on the day. Subsequently, while assembling an impressive squad to play for the Moles, Elvis was able to loan Beccs a veritable set of ‘Galacticos’ in Stuart ‘Cabin Boy’ Harrington, Ralph Walpole, Richard ‘Mayhem’ Mayhew, Matt Clarke and Dave Sergeant in order to even up the teams. The dilemma of what to do with the ‘back from Uni’ and late availability of erstwhile (not needed today by the) 1st XV fly half ‘superstar’, Aaron Rayner was solved by giving both sides the benefit of his talents for a twenty minute period each: Beccs during the first half and Moles during the second.
And an evenly fought match it certainly was. With the 80 minutes split into four quarters, the first period proved to be a ‘ding-dong’ scoreless affair with the Beccs’ ringers making utter nuisances of themselves and the Moles playing some nice rugby albeit in the wrong areas of the pitch and trying silly stuff (in the context of Moles’ rugby) like missed passes and ‘Sonny Billesque’ offloads.
The Moles were first to open the scoring in the second period though fly half Carl Sells following some tidy flowing rugby. However, Beccehamians were up for this match and were soon back on terms resulting with the first half ending with honours even at 5 points apiece.
Enjoying a run out as the number 8 forward, Mark ‘Oaf’ Armitage touched down to restore the Moles’ lead in the third quarter; but yet again the Moles could not find the momentum to press on and take full control of the game and the Eclectics again replied to level proceedings.
This good spirited encounter boiled over at the end of the third quarter when Velcro took out the Beccs winger into touch with a try saving, but high, tackle. The usual argy-bargy and handbags after such a challenge followed with both players seated on the deck, until the winger decided to raise the stakes by petulantly throwing the ball in Velcro’s face. This got Velcro to his feet immediately to begin lunging at his opponent; seemingly imitating the Tilbury windmills during the final overs of Hurricane Irma. Many a Beccs player rushed in to separate the players with the slightly more lethargic Moles following in shortly afterwards; no doubt initially thinking, “Actually, this might be quite fun to watch!”
The usually unfazed official, Dave ‘Stormin’’ Norman was clearly incensed by this unexpected flashpoint, assertively calling Velcro and Moles’ skipper Elvis over with his hand clearly reaching for his top pocket. Velcro casually ignored his recent windmills like any self-respecting estate agent and landlord would ignore the presence of a traveler community in the front garden of a bijoux property in a quiet residential area; attempting to the steer the conversation in the direction of the initial challenge and unintentionally starting off a preview of the forthcoming pantomime season. “That was never a high tackle Sir!” said Velcro, “Oh yes it was” said Stormin’, “Oh no it wasn’t” said Velcro, “Oh yes it was” said Elvis and so on.
When Mr Norman produced a yellow card in response to Velcro’s retaliation, Velcro struggled to see the rationale. “He threw the ball in my face, what do you expect me to do?” Velcro had a point; but rugby players are expected to turn the other cheek. Maybe the winger would have been sin binned instead of Velcro if the latter hadn’t retaliated. Who knows? But Velcro had to take his medicine and the Moles were going to be down to 14 for the first 10 minutes of the final quarter; as immediately after Velcro got his marching orders, Dave blew his whistle with the score, after 60 minutes of play, standing at Moles 10 Beccs 10.
Elvis was musing whether Velcro had been a wee bit disingenuous when he said he was up for a full 80 minutes before the kick off. “If he (Velcro) needed a blow, all he had to do was say!”
In all a fairness though, this was an incident that took the shine off of an outstanding ball carrying performance from Velcro; breaking the gain line on numerous occasions and providing some neat offloads. If not for the yellow, Velcro would have been a credible contender for Mole-of-Match but things weren’t quite meant to be. Perhaps some ‘spin’ can be afforded to reflect on Velcro’s sin-binning as ‘taking one for the team’ in view of the try saving nature of the initial challenge.
However, Elvis and the reduced capacity Moles were not sitting pretty at the start of the final quarter; on the wrong end of a penalty, 10 metres out from their tryline. A bit of a tight spot to say the least and although the Moles managed to get plenty of bodies in the way to defend a solid Beccs’ driving maul, ultimately they could not prevent their own ‘loaned out’ Ralph Walpole from touching down and giving the Beccs the lead for the first time the in the match; a lead that extended to seven points once the conversion was kicked. Moles 10 Eclectics 17
Behind the posts Elvis rallied the troops. “It was always going to difficult hold them back from a penalty after a long break in play and having to re-organise" he reflected, "the only way to react now is to just get down the other end and score”. The great thing about Moles’ (and Swans’) rugby these days it that it is much more resilient and while things could have gone either way, there was a quiet determination among the Moles to answer Elvis’s call.
Despite this steel though, confusion reigned at the scrum which coincided with Velcro’s reintroduction from the ‘sin bin’; leading to Elvis replacing himself with Velcro and unfairly cussing the rehabilitated lock for ruining his afternoon’s rugby. After being reminded by his team mates that a rugby union (an important distinction as the Moles’ skipper originates from the west end of the M62) team consists of 15 players and the Moles had been playing with 14 for the past 10 minutes, Elvis was ‘back in the room’. “I was in the zone; just focused on getting forward” he pleaded after the game, to any deaf ear that wasn’t listening and every mind that thought him to be nothing less than an eejit!
Nonetheless, shortly afterwards Elvis, Velcro and the rest of the Moles’ pack found themselves pressing Beccs hard on their try line following more outstanding work by hooker Heinz’s potential son-in-law, Martin, playing at loose head prop. Martin has clearly played a bit of rugby in his time and he did well to bring himself down to the Moles’ level. Kelly; if you’re reading this, the Moleys approve of your man!
However, despite Martin’s hard work, it was Elvis who found himself at the dirty back of another messy ruck trying to get to the egg buried beneath a nest of leg-shaped branches. As the fingers of Elvis’ right hand gently caressed Gilbert’s dimples; standing ready to pick and go left towards the try line, he paused briefly for a nanosecond. Something happened. Was it a bird? No. Was it a plane? No. It was that super nuisance Mayhem flying in completely off his feet, ‘Becc for the day’ cape fluttering in the mild December breeze, ball still firmly grounded on the floor, playing the de facto 9 and as ever, doing all of this to the side of the gate. Penalty to Gravesend, guickly taken by Jamie Rayner, carried over the line by Big Brian Williams and then converted by Jamie. Moles 17 Beccs 17.
Although he’d been quiet by his usual standards in a Beccs’ shirt during the first quarter, superstar Mole Aaron Rayner was having more impact now that he was back in black and a breakaway situation was exploited by himself for a try which he himself then converted to restore the Moles’ lead at 24-17.
Finally, some brotherly and clever half-back interplay between Aaron and Jamie Rayner finally paid off (an early attempt saw Beccs hold Aaron and the ball up on the line) with Jamie getting himself on the score sheet.
Final score: Moles 29 Beccehamians Eclectics 17.
Another good win for the Moles against a stronger Eclectics team than had run out in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. Indeed, Moles Harrington and ‘Wannabe’ Mole Mayhem both complimented the men in black on their play from an opposition perspective. Unbeaten in four matches. What’s going on?
After finishing the ‘Moles’ howl’ with a collective “Let’s get winkered!” (misprint) the Moleys retired to the clubhouse to drink from jugs and to sing at mugs standing on chairs. On chair one, sadly for his yellow card as opposed to in praise for a great performance, was Velcro who was accompanied by Mole-of-the-match, blind side flanker Martin ‘Welshy’ Welsh who was as effective and as horrible as Velcro all around the pitch today but critically, was only ever seen by Mr Norman being effective.
Drinking in the clubhouse was not as drawn out as usual in view of the annual Moles’ Ball, expertly organised once again by Cabin Boy and Squeeksy, also on the horizon that evening at the Manor Hotel, Gravesend. Wagons rolled away from Rectory Field early as many a Molette was waiting in front of a mirror somewhere for a Mole to zip up their frock!
And so the evening ran on into the early hours to the accompaniment of beer, wine, port, Crimbo dinner, the sound of sweet soul music and human pyramids!
Proof once again, for the benefit of any of you non-believers out there, that the Moles is something much much more than just a rugby team!