2. A Captain’s travails

And so The Derelicts 2002-3 season drew to a magnificent close with the end of season dinner at the Fountain Gardens…


Serge Broomo jinked passed the flailing tackle of the opposition full-back, looked wistfully at Chrissie on the touch line, grinned and gently put the ball down for yet another superb Derelicts try. From the restart the forwards gathered the ball, drove 30 metres up the park to unleash Spearsy on one of his trademark blind-side runs, nostrils flaring, those wild, wild eyes, narrowed and focused on the posts ahead. Only the frantic intervention of three defenders were to prevent this whirlwind loose-head prop from putting more blue sky between a resurgent Dorking side and their last minute opposition stand-ins – Rosslyn Park II’s………

Skipper woke up in a post-Stella sweat, the dim sound of a radio somewhere off in the distance disturbing the peace and normality of a Brockham Saturday morning. He laughed out aloud, causing Helen next to him to half open her eyes. He put his finger to his lips, smiled and his long-suffering wife pulled the duvet up over her shoulders. He thought he saw a scowl begin to emerge, but dismissed it quickly as his thoughts returned to rugby. It had only been a dream.

It was April and the Derelicts were to play Old Cranleighans away in what was to prove to be their last fixture for the season. Skipper quickly showered and put on his lucky jeans. ‘Still two bloody players short’ he muttered to himself and reached for the mobile phone. The recent good weather had provided late selection headaches as golf, gardening and the pull of the Briney lured some of the old lags on to the dangerous rocks of a rugby-free Saturday afternoon.  However, some twenty minutes later and with a skill paying more than a passing homage to the Dark Arts he managed (as he always did) to conjure up the additional souls required.

One month later and Skipper pushed his way through the welcoming throng and up to the counter. Derelicts End of Season Dinner he mused and nodded at his fellow team-mates and sundry partners now gathered about him in the public bar of the Spotted Dog. Good turnout, and it was good to see so many of the ‘new boys’ who had recently experienced the bish and bosh of Veteran’s rugby firsthand. Andy Watson, Phil Dalton and Will Clemson bringing the number of Minis Coaches who had worn the shirt that season to eight. No sign of Tap Edgley though, probably off buying another bloody office block in Frankfurt, or whatever the hell he did. The noise level crept up as the first four pre-dinner pints hit the spot. Skip looked about the room as many familiar faces drifted in to view; great to see Gerbil back playing he thought, Cliff and Pete Terelak back from injury and there was Chancey (who had gone on the missing list for the second half of the season) and his missus in animated conversation with Wattsy, who was looking forward to a good drink, having spent too much time recently in the alcohol free zone that was a Boeing 767 cockpit.

Dinner was the usual raucous but culinarily pleasing affair at the Fountain Gardens. It was also an opportunity for the old lags to bask in the after season glow, not of countless victories – and boy, they had been in short supply, but of being part of the team’s universally envied, Corinthian tradition with its egalitarian, inclusive ethos. An ethos that sat rather uncomfortably with the requirements of an organised and extremely competitive Vets League that had been introduced at the start of the season.

With a final swig of room temperature lager Skipper rose to his feet and the clamour died down. He looked inebriated. The room cheered as Jonah was awarded the cup for Least Deteriorated Player for the superhuman feat of having played in all fifteen positions by season end, with Raymondo deservedly scooping the Petulance Award for his never ending enthusiasm for handbags with the opposition pack. Raymond Slater was an ageing 5ft 9inch, 12st 2lb scrum half, now masquerading as a winger.

Sitting on the edge of his bed about an hour later and still trying to get his socks off without tumbling over, Skip was mentally replaying some of the chat he had picked up during the evening. Blimey, had 56 players really trotted out on to the paddock to represent the Derelicts during the previous 8 months? And it was quite outrageous he thought, to suggest that the ginger back-rower from the dodgy side of Offa’s Dyke had received only two yellow cards. Then there were the games themselves…… the drubbing meted out by Esher, the three matches against Barnes, where two moral victories had been declared by common acclaim, despite the aggregate seventy points conceded, the abandoned match at Chobham, that fantastic comeback against Cobham …….he pitched forward, his head hit the pillow and the socks stayed on.

3.45am. Helen sat bolt upright. She looked down at her husband, his eyes were firmly closed, but he was yelling, ‘Come on Spearsy, skin the bastard’.


More here: Early Derelicts Picture Slideshow…

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