Moles 27 KXS Mammoths 12
By Michael Murray
Pipe down Izzy and Billy! The Moles and Mammoths are NOT going to Hell!! The Mammoths are taking the Moles to Heaven!!!
On a typically glorious day for rugby, the Moles were delighted to host the King’s Cross Steelers’ Mammoths as they prepare to compete in the forthcoming Union Cup competition which will be held in Dublin during early June. The Moles and Gravesend RFC were also delighted to welcome Martha Kelner, Sky News’ award-winning sports correspondent, to Rectory Field. Martha was in town to report on the Steelers’, the world’s first gay/inclusive rugby club, response to homophobic social media posts by Australian and English internationals, which were incongruent with rugby’s core values. As regular opponents of the Steelers over the past twenty years or so, the Moles were more than happy to support both the LGBTQ+ and rugby communities in condemning these inappropriate comments given that international rugby players are both role models for younger players and high-level ambassadors for the sport. However, while Martha’s interview with the Steelers’ later to be named ‘man of the match’, Scott Marshall featured prominently in the report broadcast in the next day’s news bulletins, Moles’ skipper Elvis’s contributions were seemingly left on the cutting room floor. Elvis’s claims of an ‘anti-ginger conspiracy’ were quickly dispelled when he was reminded that Martha was a fellow redhead and clearly his interview was not used as he was no doubt talking shite; as usual!
To mitigate for Elvis; the club’s scheduling of the annual players’ supper the evening before didn’t prepare him or many other Moles for TV interviews or rugby out on the first team pitch and in front of a healthy double-figured crowd waving the odd “Hello Mum!” placard for the Sky News audience. Nonetheless, with “drunks” also in scope of the Australian international’s vitriolic post as well as LGBTQ+ community, Moles who couldn’t directly empathise from the latter perspective, certainly could do from the former! Still, aside from Richie ‘Mayhem’ Mayhew who, after officially being the drunkest man and best semi-clothed crowd surfer in the rugby club 12 hours earlier, ‘fashionably’ rocked up sporting a green hue just before kick-off; the remaining Moles raised hip flasks of Velcro’s famed toffee vodka to the quality of the previously evening’s event and toasted, among others, organiser-in-chief Dave Dorton and Master of Ceremonies , Ian ‘Tarzan’ Turnidge for their contributions to the best night of its kind in many years.
The first half of the game was tight with the Steelers’ putting up a typically strong and organised defence; particularly punishing Moles going into contact in an upright position. However, the Moles persevered and took the lead on the 15-minute mark when its trademark ‘up the jumper’ phase-play finally led to Sam Holden scoring between the posts and (the original) ‘Ginger George’ Corrigan adding points for the subsequent conversion.
Despite the strong start, the previous night’s alcohol and typically high numbers of replacements combined to disrupt the Moles’ rhythm and the Steelers’ deservedly got themselves back into the match with a try before half time; which saw the teams change ends with the Moles having the slight edge at 7-5.
The third quarter of the game saw a largely even contest, which could have gone either way; with the Steelers continuing to defend gallantly and a jaded-looking Moles holding on through critical tackles by Mick Terry on the right wing and Rich Glover in the midfield; the latter most definitely ‘try saving’ and very arguably a key turning point of the game. Unable to find a gap in the Steelers’ defensive line, the Moles resorted to pushing them back and ultimately ‘Big Brian’ Williams nudged himself over the line to put men in black a further five points ahead.
With Mole tails back up as the game entered its final 20 minutes, much to the dismay of some those high tails looking at the try line, Elvis took a call to kick for points from a penalty 30 metres or so from the goal. Despite a typically Moley ‘Carry on Rugby’ comedy moment trying to locate a kicking tee, Big Bri took spectators back to the 1970s by holding the ball upright with his index finger as returning hooker-come-halfback Swanley, deftly placed the ball between the posts. This put the Moles more than a converted try ahead; which was a much-needed buffer when the Steelers’ speedy right winger finally cashed-in on the threat he’d posed all game, to cut inside, find a gap and touch down between the posts shortly afterwards.
Following the straightforward Steelers' conversion, the game now stood at 15-12 with 13 minutes to go and with the hungover Moles having been unable to find their usual groove all afternoon; on balance, the momentum now sat with the visitors. However, seemingly small things often change games like the aforementioned tackles by Terry and Glover. In turn, a friendly bounce of the odd-shaped ball sat up for Moles’ wing, Benny ‘The Pimp’ Giles to further add to his try count following his return to ‘the’ beautiful game after a period of self-imposed exile playing soccer. The Pimp, having closed the deal between the posts, enabled Swanley to add the further two points that secured the Moles a 10-point cushion to see out the closing minutes of the game with.
However, there was still some Moley history to be made: As fresh has he could be from the aforementioned players’ supper on the night before; newly crowned GRFC ‘Gannet (4th XV) of the year’ Lloydy actually found himself catching the last in a short sequence of Moles passes and having stepped an oncoming Steeler, saw nothing but 25 metres of fresh air to run into; which, while every Mole and watching Gravesend supporter held their breath, he covered and touched down for his first try after several years supporting others score theirs. This feat saw Lloydy deservedly earn his first Mole-of-the-Match tee-shirt; allegedly much to the disappointment his wife Jenny who has been making the tee-shirts for many years now; now doubt smiling to herself as she did and thinking “Well at least I won’t have to worry about that tonight!” Apologies Jenny!
So, after Swanley hit the post with the conversion kick, referee Peggy blew for time and the match ended 27-12. This score line flattered the Moles but nonetheless players on both sides seemed happy enough to have made the most of another glorious day for rugby and enjoyed playing in a match that was played in the spirit of the values which all, bar an isolated minority of very ‘unwelcome’, rugby players and supporters fully understand are integral to making our sport the greatest of sport of all. The Mammoths played well in their first run out for a few years and will hopefully approach the forthcoming Union Cup with some confidence. The Moles and all at GRFC wish them the very best of success in the tournament.
Following Moles’ prop Pierre Du Toit’s annual South African braai of traditional ‘boerwore’ sausage, washed down with Velcro’s toffee vodka, there was inevitably some cultural binge drinking shenanigans to finish the day. Joining Lloydy up on the chairs was firstly, Matt ‘Nobby’ Clarke for not wearing ‘number ones’ to a Moles game and thinking he could hide this by zipping up his coat to hide his neck. His lame excuse that the one formal shirt he owns was in the wash after the players’ supper was dismissed instantly. Beer, sweat and any other type of stain present no barrier to upholding the Moles’ sartorial standards. This will no doubt push out Nobby’s award of the coveted Moles’ tie despite his endeavours out on the pitch.
Contrary to popular belief and myth, there is no 'magic formula’ for obtaining a Moles’ tie. Some say it’s about game time played in the black shirt; some say you must tour at least once; some say you have to be a regular at training; some say you must attend FAF regularly; some get a tie quickly; some take a little longer; some say that some without a tie deserve one; some say that some of those with a tie, don’t deserve one! It’s all a bit of a mystery except for the fact that if Moles’ Chairman, Squeeksy, doesn’t like you, then don’t buy a new shirt in eager anticipation! What cannot be denied is that something that generates so much discussion, should not be treated lightly.
Subsequently, it was disappointing to hear that Mole Russell ‘Lunch’ Turley was now in possession of two Moles’ ties when some still question why he got his first one! Seriously, Lunch did the right Moley thing by liberating the second tie from around one of the pillars holding up the Lounge bar roof and informing Elvis. Some weeks passed before Dave ‘Posty’ Pattison shyly rocked up to a Moles match wearing a Swans as opposed to a Moles’ tie. While many of us might misappropriate the odd bit of stationery from work, some ‘borrow’ bigger things and as Posty is a retired AFO, Elvis had to tread carefully before enquiring whether Posty was driving on Saturday. Posty said he wasn’t and so, a pint of WKD infused Guinness was set up for him to atone for the carelessness shown towards his tie. However, by the time the chairs were laid out, Posty was nowhere to be seen; leaving Elvis to down the pint on his behalf. Mole Heinz; can you please arrange for Posty to get a lift to Footscray on the 27th?
One final point dear Reader, it took so long for Lloydy to down his MOTM pint, observers in the players’ bar had to Google the later verses of “Why was he born so beautiful…..,” ……..lines akin to “Rebellious Scots to crush……” and all that, which will no doubt have pleased Mole elders, Q and Meemar!
And so, after the Steelers’ sang their song and left the building, the Moles departed one-by-one until Mick Terry was left solo with Moles card and started lording it up on the gin cocktails before the night closed on another glorious day for rugby. A day when the Moles appeared on national TV and because of an international rugby controversy. Proof once again; and more of it just keeps presenting itself, that the Moles is something much, much more than just a rugby team!