Noddy comes home!
29 - 32
Playing for the Noddy Trophy is one of EGRFC’s annual highlights. We are the current holders having crushed the Cambridge Barbeerians last year. I had heard, however, that we would be in for a stiffer examination this time around.
We kicked off into a brisk wind with a ‘forward’ dominated team having had several ‘backs’ pull out during the week. This was not our biggest problem though, as the two breakfasts (EG & Cambridge), the dark liquid coach refreshment and Noo noo’s unusual warm up (which was orange and quite fruity) were weighing very heavily in our highly toned and conditioned physique’s. Note to self, four bacon butties and two tins of Guinness do not help a morning kick off! (I remember this too late every year).
And so it was that we went three tries down very quickly, as the opposition cleverly used the wind, and our lethargy, to tear us apart! The Barbeerians always field enormous forwards who batter down the middle, but this year a couple of speedy backs made them pretty potent and we had to switch on quickly before things got embarrassing! Bert took it on himself to rouse us, under our own sticks, with the ‘Braveheart’ speech, which was also pretty embarrassing tbh, but it certainly woke us up as simple hands saw makeshift winger Champers, acrobatically dive into the corner for our first points of the day to the delight of the raucous travelling support - and the two Welsh builders who thoroughly enjoyed the whole spectacle.
My head had cleared considerably by the time the second half started and we were on a roll! Centre, Ruari Andrews, was carving through and over the oppo at will, releasing his speedy 13, Sammy Montagu, to gallop forward, and it was Sam who scorched away for the next five pointer, before the excellent Chris Pentney (Who I believe had five bacon butties??) burst through to feed Champers, restored to the flank, to secure his brace! Sammy again broke free for his double after great work from Sands and Spencer, and we were in the lead! What a comeback - Films are made about sporting legend like this, and even Champers getting over excited, fighting and hollering all over the place was not enough to spoil our pleasure.
What wasn’t in the script, however, was the rapid Light Blue centre streaking away to score and overturn our lead (Although I’m sure I stopped him!!!). It was now Cambridge who surged forward with new energy, but again our centres combined to launch the galloping Montagu who was stopped just short, fine rucking from the young Marriott boys, won a penalty which was quickly taken, and saw Andrews plow over to regain the lead once more.
I understand if this report is too exciting to read, surely there could be no more drama? With five minutes remaining, my heart was proper hammering on the pitch as a deft step again saw the Cambridge centre through and under the posts. Oh, the pain of victory snatched..., but the ref said two minutes left, so we lifted our heads once more and charged into the fray to give it one more burst. A mistake was forced, set piece won, backs released, Marriott senior in the clear, last defender drawn (All this was happening in glorious slow motion), pass released for Marriott junior to go over in the corner and start scenes of rapturous joy from players, spectators and builders alike!
One more tiny piece of excitement, came when the ref called last play with a penalty to us. Exhausted, we elected to kick the ball dead and claim Noddy once more, but Pete Spencer’s leaden leg, didn’t have the energy and Cambridge jumped and caught the ball and tore into us again. It would have been cruel indeed, and with huge relief we watched a loose Cambridge pass dribble into touch.
Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!
DotD went to Champers for his exuberance, Champaign moment to the Marriotts for the poetic match winner and MoM went to Ruari who was a joy to watch - You can be my centre anytime!!!