Forwards Take Home the Honours on Presentation Day
By russell vale
Stroud U14s celebrate a fantastic season with 2 days of fun
Not content with one presentation day the U14’s went for a double header. They’d had successful double headers vs Minch, Old Pats, Ciren and Painswick so why not finish with another one?
Friday Night BBQ
It had been a tough week. The kids were still recovering from their cup final exertions and were physically shot. Mentally they were gone as well due to the Key Stage 3 exams taking place for some of them. Some of the Archway school and Rodboro footy kids had played 5 big games, plus training in 8 days so were running on empty. Good planning Dads – tire out those kids. Might have a chance of keeping it close in the annual Dads vs Lads exhibition game.
A big crowd had gathered at Fromehall. For the Lads it was the biggest game of season. The Cup final had just been a warmup. This was bragging rights for the whole season and the upcoming Summer. The Dads were a bit short of players. Phil forgot his boots….again. Rick turned up suited, but not booted. The self-employed declared they couldn’t afford the risk of injury so stepped back from the sideline and into the bar and started to add to the bar receipts.
Education was the loser this week – we asked the kids to line up equally but they couldn’t count and an 18 vs 9 lineup was the result. The Dads went large – very large – like their waist lines. They added more beef with Lucas, Mr T and Jedd and #8 Hilly after his tour game masterclass.
The game was going to be a battle of contrasting styles:
- Tortoise vs Hare
- Talent vs Timber
- Forwards vs Backs
- Experience vs Innovation
- Speed and Strength vs Guile and Dark Arts
As the teams ran out onto the pitch the biggest applause was for the returning injury victims - Liam playing and Arthur carrying the whistle. Would he be impartial? Would his moral compass stay neutral or would it gravitate towards the Lads favour?
Dads: Not that many, plus Mr T, Lucas, Jedd and Hilly
Lads: The rest, plus ref Arthur
It was a typical defensive alignment. Dads opposite their sons. Patrick now regretted having twins as he had a double dose. The other kids liked those odds so all doubled down on a Dad – they had enough players to do so.
The Lads started fast – just like Clifton last week. Tries were getting racked up as the ref gave some dubious decisions to favour the youngsters. The first half highlights for the Dads was Coach Mk II faster than son Harry – but he was down to 1 arm though so not able to sprint in a straight line so kept going round in a wide circle. Mr T also scored a kick and catch try that captain Will would have been proud off. The downsides to the Dads game was Lucas kicking it away at every chance. 5 minutes at full back on tour and a missed conversion attempt and he thought he was the new Jonny Wilkinson.
Half time came and the kids were winning easily. Delia came to the rescue of the Dads and administered oxygen, deep heat, massages and a pint of Doom Bar. Would the second half be any different?
The Dads started strongly – the alcohol freeing their decision process and 30 yard passes were now the best option. Coach Churchill scored a fine try down the right wing outpacing his son Dave. More bragging rights to the coaches but then someone reminded him that Dave had been in the Bath Road curry house having a half time snack and had almost run down his Dad from half mile away.
Ref Arthur was still having an influence on the game. Another cracking line break by the speedster Jo was called back for a forward pass. How ironic! The junior ref had learnt his skills well from the Dark master.
Another almightly Lucas kick gave the kids another run back chance. Then the Dads twigged. Lucas had been a plant all along. Those devious U14s had sent him to us on purpose and then told him to kick the ball away at every chance to give the youngsters the lion’s share of the possession.
The score had narrowed to almost equal. Arthur declared that last try wins. Somehow the Dads managed to score and declared themselves the winners. Then Arthur did a Fergie (get well soon) and declared we needed more injury time. The inevitable happened and Dave blasted down the left wing. The match reporter closed the angle and attempted to throw his notepad and pen at Dave in a futile attempt to trip him up. Dave taunted Russell and told him how to write the closing paragraph of the match report – something like “a match winning Lads try vs the Dads is 10x better than 2 Kingsholm EDF Cup tries”. That’s how much this game meant to the kids. The Dads lined up for another chance of last try wins but Arthur could see the BBQ was now dishing out food so called full time.
The official score was 10-9 to the Lads. The Dads got together and used stats to help turn the match in their favour. Average points per player, average points per kilo, average points per years experience. We had won hands down. We took our evidence to the Competitions Committee – hosted by the Mums – and they threw it out as inadmissible and declared the Lads as champions.
The rest of the evening was spent drinking and eating. Thanks to the BBQ staff for doing a sterling job, the caterers for providing side dishes and the bar staff Nicky and Stratts (aka Mr and Mrs Stroud RFC) for keeping everyone watered.
Keyan took over the music and speaker system and the quality of the music plummeted, at the same time as the volume increased. Invites to a rave in Stroud were issued via social media and Instagram. The council got wind of this and sent in the Council helicopter to take some noise readings. Keyan turned it down and the helicopter flew away.
Such was the interest in the team success that news and media outlets were there in abundance. The SNJ were rumoured to want to run a 24 page pull-out after their successful half page article this week. Their circulation had jumped from 5,000 copies a week to 37,000 – most of these stashed in Keyan’s bedroom to hand out as reminders to people he had scored a try at Hartpury against one of the best U14 squads in the country. The Paparazzi led by Tori were selling their photos to the highest bidders. Even Sky had flown in a helicopter to cover the press conference live on Sky Sports News.
The evening closed with the players and parents giving gifts of wine to the coaching and back-office volunteers. The coaches then gave the Press Conference and described the season and the journey the team had been on – and the support given by parents and injured players alike. Just think if Arthur had been an impartial ref he might have got a 10 minute standing ovation from the Dads! ;-)
Sunday – Club Presentation Day
Everyone met at the club on Sunday for the formal presentations. Tori was in need of more funds for feeding Mr T so was now selling copies of the U14 Season Highlights to any takers. Vue cinema Stroud weren’t interested in buying it so the film had gone straight to DVD……..
Winston Churchill was away on holiday so MC Jo took over the mike and dropped some fun-loving beats – much better than Keyan’s tunes.
Another brief season review was given and then the season’s trophies were handed out.
- Coaches Player: Darion – unanimous choice
- Players Player: Mr T. Always a closely fought trophy
- Supporters Player: Alex – the human sleeping policeman that trips up many a speeding player
- Most Improved Player: Lucas – for fortifying the scrum. Special mention to Jedd and Bernie
- Best BBQ: Mark Organ
17 victories including double headers against strong teams like Old Pats and Minch - and just 3 losses against Matson, Bath, and Clifton. According to Wikipedia Stroud Valleys population is 50k, Bristol is 500k – so 10x more. We scored 5 points but need to use the population ratios. 5 x 10 = 50. Therefore we won the Cup Final 50-43. Nice to end the season on a high…..
730 points scored. 367 conceeded. 115 tries vs 58 – approx 10 tries scored by Stroud players when playing for opponents like St Brendan’s, Stow and Painswick. So we scored twice as many tries as our opponents. More importantly in the crunch games like Cinderford, Minch and Old Pats it was our goal kicking – drop goal, penalties and conversions - that made the difference. If you re-read the match reports you’ll see what a weapon we have compared to other teams in the dead-ball and in-game kicking department. Keep up the great work Will, plus all the other backs (and forwards like Mr T and Lucas) that are adding kicking into their in-game repertoire.
Next season will be a step up in intensity with the fixtures list Chris H has put together – but the team is ready and able to step upto the next challenge. Thanks to all the players for their commitment every week and pushing their skills envelope continuously. Thanks to the coaches and back-office volunteers for the admin, catering etc. Special thanks to Jo for refing the majority of our games and flagman Mk II for running the line. Also Phil and Mk I for running the subs bench and trying to work out how to keep all the players happy, and finally Delia for applying plasters, tapes sprays and gels and keeping the players match fit to add to the subs headache we already have.
My personal highlights from this season were as follows:
- 2nd half comeback vs Minch at start of season
- Drop goal winner vs Cinderford
- Friday night on Tour and the games with new tour shirts
- Snow ball fight on Sunday morning and the Coaches beating the kids – (the penny’s dropped - that’s why Arthur let the Lads win on Friday night in revenge)
- Getting the final text message saying we had beaten Minch in cup-semi. My nerves were shredded….
- Kids running out onto pitch for Cup final at Hartpury
- Kids walking off the pitch smiling and buzzing knowing how well they had played for last 35 minutes against a very strong Clifton team
- Seeing the new players be welcomed into the squad and contribute to the team success in many ways
In fact for this season every day felt like Christmas so let’s end with a Xmas song……..
On the 17 highlights of the season our great team gave to us:
- 17 crushing victories
- 16 attending Glos DPP (includes Jo)
- 15 kids a gelling on the pitch
- 14 is their age group
- 13 bowls of pasta for Dave (every game)
- 12 league victories
- 11 cans of deep heat
- 10 is our captain
- 9 sub coats a warming
- 8 forwards scrummaging
- 7 backs a running
- 6 coaches celebrating
- 5 gold rings (cup victories)
- 4 trophies awarded
- 3 points for a drop goal
- 2 re-scheduled semi's
- And a yellow card vs Minch……..
Sorry Will - I hope you forgive me.