The morning of Saturday 23rd April. 232 days of London 1 rugby; 70km of “swings and back!”; 100 Litres of Lambrini. One final bus trip. One final 80 minutes before the curtain falls…
A packed clubhouse, and glorious sunshine reflecting off a sea of pink Camberley blazers, provides our backdrop.
After 20 minutes the home side are two tries to the good and, despite having a novice prop, are beginning to assert their physical dominance at scrum-time. The spectating flamboyance of the flamingos can therefore be forgiven for expecting a victory procession. Too bad flamingos have little sense of smell as there is definitely something in the air. A midfield turnover; caution thrown to the wind; a Matt Newman half-break and offload; a Pete Bicknell hard-line; the ball is spun through the backs, Tim Russell breaks the line and offloads to Joe “his arms are cold” Carolan to bring the Hammers back to within 1 score.
Three things in life are certain. Taxes, Death, and Rich Vaughan’s opposite number being the largest human on the field. The home side require all of their 10kg per player advantage to prevent the wave after wave of red attacks breaching their defences. Ross Anderson decides this would be the opportune moment to explain the laws of our beautiful game to the referee for which he is rewarded with an extra 10 minutes to prepare his halftime Braveheart-esque speech.
However, even the loss of their talismanic no. 10 cannot slow the tide of Rogan’s Reds. Alex “Money” Spicer, spotting the Co-op logo adorning the Camberley post protectors, flicks a switch and makes a charge down the left touchline. Only an infringement prevents a certain try but the next score is inevitable. Joe Carolan runs over some poor soul, offloading to a flying Vaughan. The ball is recycled and thrown wide to another honey badger, who puts in the “el ganzo” step, to score under the posts.
“Marry me Timmy Russell?!” pierces the otherwise deafening silence.
Despite Ross Anderson’s well-rehearsed motivational TED talk, the second half begins much like the first. Camberley pressure leads to an infringement and loss of territory for Carolan’s Congregation (it is after all his world we are all living in). Camberley effectively deploy their battering ram and lead by 7.
However Terry’s Troops aren’t going quietly and minutes later release their own devastating secret weapon (months in-development) and execute the perfect rolling maul. El jugador del partido, Señor Angus “El Ganzo” Marrón emerges con balón to restore parity. Alex “the Big Issue” Spicer emerges with a yellow card for attempting to save his knee from dislocation.
From the resulting penalty/kick-off the home side do what they do best, crashing over from short range. Another quick score provides some breathing room and the watching flamingos exhale…
There are certain, albeit rare, moments in life when three Scotsmen are better than one. Head Coach Jackson felt that this is precisely one of those moments, throwing on McCloud and Anderson, to join future club captain Stephen, with the instruction that “now we run everything”. This tactical masterstroke is rewarded instantly as first Ross, with a poacher’s finish so outrageous it would be illegal within 50 miles of a game reserve, then Marshall cross the whitewash to bring Bicknell’s Brethren back to within touching distance.
The final 10 minutes sees Surrey Heath become Harlem, N.Y. as El Ganzo’s Globetrotters attempt to keep the ball more alive than the hills are with the sound of music…Ultimately living by the sword, can mean dying by the sword, and two long-range Camberley tries close out the game.
Congratulations to Camberley for an almost perfect season and best of luck for next year in Nat 3.
This was truly a David vs Goliath encounter, in more ways than one. Today Goliath had his revenge. However David’s time will come; he will be crowned; Jackson’s Journeymen will be back!