First let’s take a moment of silence for our fallen protectors and remember that it is only for those fallen that both teams were able to pull on the jerseys they hold so dear.
The weather was apt for such a weekend of remembrance with the rain falling and a freezing mist descending on the ground defended by the men from Camelot. This was going to be an attritional one and even the beautifully assembled back line had to don studs over a centimetre.
The warm up came and went with little to note but with excuses made early about the dramatic shortening of reproductive organs we came together. We, as one, headed back to the split changing room piggies to the left to talk about pushing and backs to the right all gathered round a single pocket mirror J Lo had “found” in his flight bag – the Hammers were ready.
The rain fell harder as the, recently single, Hatton’s kick off went high into the Hampshire air – but who collected? None other than our very own Taylor Williams who’s salmon-like jump saw him reclaim what was rightfully ours.
The first 10 minutes were industrial with both teams digging in and making the most of every mm they had on their feet. After numerous phases of sideways action our very own Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Mitchellson puts a delicately weighted ball into the corner the Hammers boys are happy with the gain (some wingers even applauded) but Coach Mark is not and MMM is left on the end another wild accusation of his sobriety nicely round led off with F****** I****.
We defended, they defended, the next 10 minutes passed with little to write home about but it was 0-0 and that’s all that mattered until 21 minutes struck and some sloppy defending from their big boys allowed MMM to put our crash ball centre (the big JC) straight through on a switchy switcheroo. The boys in red white and blue were ahead and could smell blood – the kick was missed but an excuse was ready before it had left the tee… something about being recently single.
4 minutes later and having moved to a new technique of the elongated Gary Owen comes from the recently single Ben Hatton… Hammers are awarded a penalty for yet another offside in defence – this time there’s no mistake the conversion is slotted by the ball and chain lacking Hatton. 0-8 and the boys are purring.
The next kick off wasn’t a good one for the boys in red as it skimmed from puddle to puddle untouched and out for a Hammersmith lineout 20 metres out. Fortunately this was one of the few we managed to gather from the grey skies of Herts and yards were made. A cheeky dink was followed by a delicious toe forward and Taylor dived on the ball around the 22 and as Rhona Martin’s “Stone of Destiny” from the 2002 Winter Olympics he aquaplanes his way across the 10, 5 and finally try line dotting the ball down next to the sticks – a phenomenal try proving to all those watching at home that you should never give up on a dream. 0-15.
For the next few minutes The Hammersmith boys returned to the aerial bombardment that had served them so well. A cannon was launched towards the Hemel number 11, he gathered, the Hammersmith chase was fantastic, he panicked, ran sideways and launched a delightfully loopy pass straight in to the arms of the man we call J Lo. Straight under the sticks, conversion added 0-22.
Sadly the resulting kickOff is fumbled by mr Taylor willy who’s heroics from Salt Lake City 2002 could not matched – Hammersmith defended heroically but a slip/missed tackle (potato/potatoe) on their lively 10 allowed him to sear towards our line putting their portly winger in for an easy 5 pointer. The kick was missed and we, these Hammersmith men huddled, still in control, to discuss the 40 minutes that would lead them to their destiny.
5-22 half time.
Wow – it didn’t take long the Hammers boys come out flying and ready to avenge the gift they’ve just given. Those beautifully sweaty, steamy forwards are at it again… trundling towards the line in one of those pushy maully ruck things. As the battle hardened Chamillionaire would say – they see me rollin’ and someone touched down. A sight to behold and looking more and more inviting for those that had at this point lost use of their extremities. The kick was slotted – 5-29.
Our game changers started to make their way onto the thoroughly furrowed turf, big carries followed and we were back where we belonged. A pick and goooo from Jordan on their line resulted in a characteristically hilarious knock on over the line – the crowd sighs. But the scrimmage is strong and we win a penalty against the head. Its scrum time again it’s a big old heave ho steam erupts as the 8 Hammersmith big boys clash with their opposite man and like the bison on the plains of Africa they force their challengers back towards their own line. A penalty try!!! WOW – were ticking over nicely and sit at 5 – 36. Domination at its finest.
We dominate the kick off carrying hard and find ourselves parked about 15m out with a scrum – Joe (now moved back to his rightful role as puppeteer) called a Kiwi, Tonga, Lightyear an unknown move to most of the backline but our back gamechanger the Scottish adonis, Ross, catches the resulting pass and with a delay Southern Trains would be proud of put the recently single Hatton through with 1 man to beat… he winds up the pass and, not knowing his own strength, launched it over Watford and back to Hurlingham Park (a good 30 miles for the statisticians amongst us and a new Guinness World Record).
I don’t know what happened from this passage of play but their lineout malfunctions (not for the first time for either team) and they try and play out from their own try line but… theyre caught… by none other than Steve John (the man, the myth, the destroyer) who folds their 8 like a heavily used Brighton deck chair.
I’m so cold by this point that only calls for delicious orangey spreads can keep me warm but sadly the cross field never comes… next their 10 has an absolute shocker… the rain soaked ball goes through his hands hits his head, chest and eventually calf and he dinks the balls onto the on rushing and recently single Hatton who makes no mistake and canters toward the line… the game is won and euphoria erupts from the soaked Hammers congregation. 5 – 41.
Its crunch time… 36 points ahead, 36 minutes played and a shout comes for one last push… Mitch Mitchell Mitchellson hears something different. Another lineout malfunctions they turn it over and charge for our line… heroic defending here, the boys want to nil this bunch of low lifes… an unknown Hammersmith player melts yet another of these Hemel Hampsters and he spills it… “scrum” calls the ref… Mitch Mitchell Mitchelovic hears something different… we claim the ball and as one we are ready to wear down the clock which we all know (minus MMM) has 2 minutes to go… it comes to the back of the scrum.. composure is needed at such a delicate point… MMM picks it up 5metres from our heavily defended line… and WHAT!!! He kicks it away, dead, fully dead… he runs to celebrate what he thinks was one of his better kicks of the day… only to be reminded that we still have 90seconds to go… confusion ensues but we’re still united and ready to win for the badge and everyone watching back home.
Our dominant scrum destroys theirs and that’s it… the game is through… we’re cold but we’re winners and winners are grinners.
5 – 41. Well done.
Apologies for anything missed and not knowing the intricacies of the forward stuff… I’m still thawing out and never intend to learn the latter.