Maidstone Vets 10 Moles 14
By Michael Murray
Moles get first 'W' of 2018/19 and a bit of silverware too!
On a glorious festive day for rugby, the Moles steered their wagons down to Mote Park for another competitive encounter with the Maidstone Vets; on this occasion, for the Peter McCabe Memorial Cup.
The first quarter saw the Moles camped in their own 22 standing up to wave after wave of Maidstone attacks and finding themselves guilty of trying to play their way out of trouble as opposed to simply clearing their lines and giving themselves the opportunity to breathe a little easier. The Stones’ pressure was ultimately rewarded though and they went into a 5-0 lead before the Moles had even left their own half.
The second quarter saw the usual high number of interchanges that is a key feature of Moles rugby and the new blend of players in black began to play themselves into the match. Moles’ pressure on the Stones’ try line saw forward after forward trying to break down the red the white wall of defenders until the ball moved out left for former Gannet, Pete Murray, to get the Moles back on terms. Vice skipper, Carls Sells, took the opportunity to give the Moles the lead by kicking the subsequent conversion kick.
Half time saw the sizable crowd join the players on the pitch to remember former Maidstone players by raising a glass a port. Moles’ skipper Elvis also asked that members of the Moles’ family who are sadly no longer with us were also remembered: Paul ‘Bish’ Wakelin, Bernie Johnston and of course, the #1 and only, Gary Theobald.
The Moles continued to make progress in the third quarter and were rewarded with another try between the post from Pete Murray; again successfully converted by Sells. Aside from the first quarter when Maidstone dominated, this had been an even well-matched game and it was no surprise that the Stones got themselves back within touching distance at 10-14 during the final quarter and the Moles had to dig deep to withstand lots of Maidstone pressure as they searched for the points to take the lead again. However, the Moles held out for the victory against a typically strong Vets’ team. Gary Theobald would have been delighted at the performance.
This was truly twenty-three man squad effort; however those who particularly stood out, aside from the aforementioned Pete include Lloydy who relished his opportunity to do a turn at scrum half on top of usual sterling work in the back three and Steve Thompson, Gareth Edwards and Ben Randall who answered Elvis’s call for backs from across the fence earlier in the week. Still, there is only one ‘Mole of the Match’ to award and this went was awarded by vice skipper Gareth ‘Miami’ Moore to Martin Taylor who played the majority of the game at scrum half and combined well with 10, Carl Sells. Another tradition of Moles’ rugby is to get ‘dads and lads’ playing together; so it was nice to see Woodbine and Mayhew ‘majors and minors’ running out on the park together. A mention must also go out to Big Bri for 'sandwiching' this game of rugby between two night shifts with the London Ambulance Service. Top effort! Attention seeking mentions go to Mayhem for his playing in his GRFC Christmas rugby shirt and Clarkey for busting his favourite hand for recreational purposes.
Back at HQ later in the evening it was time for the first Moles’ pantomime, ‘Joe White and the Seven Dwarves) featuring Elvis and Heinz from today’s squad as 'Stumble' and 'Fumble' respectively. This event starred and was written, produced and directed by Moles Butler and Hill and raised over £1000 for Children in Need and the GRFC mini and youth rugby section. Hopefully, the Moles’ panto will become a feature of the GRFC club calendar for years to come.
Proof yet again, for the benefit of those who might dare to think differently, that the Moles is something much much more than just a rugby team. (oh yes it is)