The Hammers survive a scare on Hammerwe’en

A villain themed Hammerwe’en, a first versus second league game, a sold-out crowd. It sounded too good to be true, it sounded like a recipe for too much fun. The top of the table clash in England’s most prolific league, Regional 2 Thames produced yet another epic encounter that would live long in the memory of the Hammers faithful. The subsequent celebrations would not. With seven bonus point wins, Hammersmith & Fulham were strong favourites but knew that a 117-point win for Old Priorians would leave them in second place.

Going into the game, the OP’s were sitting on 35 points, with six wins and one loss, and their detailed match previews, pitch-side interviews, post-match reports and weekly league summaries showed, at least, the statistical power and research capabilities of the reformed club. But they would need more than good journalism to overcome the awakening dynasty that Hammersmith had forged at the Hurlingham fortress, unbeaten in 261 days at home.

The morning of Saturday 29th October. A decidedly autumnal day, the sun hanging in an eerie haze of clouds and smog bathed the hallowed grounds of SW6 in piercing rays of sunlight. The date added an air of mystery to the occasion with the Hammers hoping to bury the skeletons of another fateful clash last year.

The Twisters’ travelling fans had clearly got the Hammerwe’en memo and assembled an array of animated Australians, vociferously villainous. The journey down the A40 had already left them in high spirits as they quickly latched onto a fellow Aussie, heckling a certain Honey badger without hesitation.

Once the game kicked off, it was evident that both teams should have worn gloves before the game because it took several scrums to warm the hands up. Brief exchanges of rugby were played between these breaks in play before another villain turned up in the form of the Hammers discipline, a constant thorn in the side of Jacko’s squad this season. Due to their mineral deficiency, the away side opted to take the three points and slotted a penalty for an early lead. 0 – 3. However, their lead did not last long, three phases to be exact, as the Fairy Godmother danced his way through the outside backs of the opposition to offload to the omnipresent Matt Killeen. Joe Carolan missed conversion. 5 – 3.

On the side-lines, Social Sec Rich Vaughan, taking a day off from beating cancer, haunted the Old Priorian backline from minute one with a costume perfectly describing the OPs flyhalf. Instead of making pencils vanish, Rich decided to make pints disappear and performed the trick several times during the opening ten minutes, each as entertaining as the last.

Former Hammers hero and Vice-President Andrew Rogan became the latest villain after his scrummaging was questioned and his brief interaction with the referee had the home side walking back ten metres. Rogan responded with some harmless French but unfortunately it was lost in translation, and he received a slice of cheese for dissent. A man down and in their own 22, the Hammers team ought to buy defensive coach Swaino a pint. His drills manifested in a mutinous defensive set resulting in a turnover, followed by a wind-assisted 50 – 22 attacking kick from Ross Anderson left Hammersmith with a lineout in the opposition 22.

After one of the cutest streakers Hurlingham park has ever seen and the cocker-spaniel was safely returned to its slightly embarrassed owner, the OP’s surged forwards with direct running and crisp passing. There was trickery involved in their next try as a backrow juggled the ball forward and sideways. This illusion dumbfounded the Hammers defence and a smart off-load led to a try through the middle. Missed conversion, 5 – 8.

Hammersmith & Fulham fought back with clever kicks and strong set-plays gaining territory fast culminating in lineout on OP’s five-metre line. Continuing his rich vein of form, the insatiable Matt Killeen scored his 17th try of the season through a clever reverse move engineered by the wand of the Weaver and quick hands from Ed Haynes. Carolan conversion, 12 – 8.

A slow start to the second half forced the fullbacks into a game of rugby tennis with neither team gaining an advantage. By this stage both teams were hitting hard and tackler harder, Tim Russell forgot he could step and bulldozed his opposite number to the delight of the crowd. With all the grace and guile of his Hammerwe’en costume, Ed ‘Waluigi’ Haynes head-butted Matt Killeen, probably hoping to see Dr. Steve John later at A&E. Both received attention on the side-lines with only the flying winger returning to play.

Without our sturdy flanker turned centre, Old Priorians capitalised and scored a driving maul that was converted to leave the score, 12 – 15 after 50 minutes. But anything that the Twisters can do, the Hammers do as well with Zander ‘No Naked Lap’ Stephens scoring off a similar move. Joe Carolan missed conversion, 17 – 15. A dislocated shoulder for Matt Killeen should allow the rest of the country to catch up with his try-scoring exploits but we wish him well and a speedy recovery.

In character, Rich Vaughan quipped “Nobody panics when things go “according to plan”. Even if the plan is horrifying!”. The plan: 21 phases in the opposition 22. The Hammers had trained for this but had never gotten past three phases without Matt Killeen scoring. Without their try-scoring talisman, the task seemed daunting, and they were in unfamiliar territory. Ross Anderson was glad of his connection to his costume choice for the evening. The red tree, so often a villain on Tuesday and Thursday training, became the saviour in a stoic twenty minutes. Running back and forth between rucks, he kept the forwards well fed by repeatedly putting the ball on a plate for them as the phase count continued to rise. Similar to a lager-beer in the Wolfpack on a dark and drizzly night, the backline was too flat and lacked the creativity to utilise the prolonged possession.

The Proctor’s pack took it upon themselves to propel the team towards the try-line. Ed Wynne, Josh Smith, and Ricky Drewitt led relentlessly, levelling any poor soul in their way; Steve John and Tom Proctor hunted like a pack of dogs clearing ruck after ruck. Why only have one Alex in the second row when you can have two? Huge carries from Harty and Spice drove the Hammers forward, but Carolan’s cohort were unable to breach an impressive Old Priorian defence.

After being told to cut his hair and tie his shoelaces back up by the avid away fans, the extremely very pacy Tim Russell dotted down in the corner after slick hands from J-Lo and Marshall McCleod. Credit to DJ MC-Cloud for assisting the bonus point try, which he later recollected in great detail at the Temperance as everyone, bar the kitchen staff were told. Joe Carolan missed conversion, 22 – 15.

Ross Anderson finished the game with a kick to touch to seal an emphatic win, confirming to the league that no one is safe in Hammersmith’s march towards promotion. Leading points scorer in the country, Joe Carolan increased his advantage by only scoring two points.

Final Score: 22 – 15


Matt Killeen x2

Zander Stephens

Tim Russell


Joe Carolan x1