What On Earth Are We Doing Here?

The Derelicts Reports evolved over several glorious seasons of veterans rugby. Each of the 30-odd reports is, much like the games themselves, an end in itself rather than a progression… although there is something of an inevitability about the way the Dark Days of season two ends.

There are also some extra musings on tours and trips plus a few pictures of those involved. If you have other photos from the Derelicts past, please feel free to pass them over via the The Derelicts Reports Facebook Page.

The Derelicts concept began, it is a stone cold fact, sometime during the middle of the previous century when the team was formed as a social side at Dorking RFC. An unyielding, timeless band of players of many shapes, sizes and skill sets who revelled mostly in drinking games and practical jokes.

The first reports of the Derelicts adventures are now lost in the mists of time, like the rag ‘n bone man and smoking compartments on trains. But in the early Noughties they were written weekly by Thorners who took to the quill to enlighten anyone interested in the exploits of the chaps and their special hobby. The works were of high quality and candour, infused with Thorners own considerable knowledge and interest in the grape. Some weeks – such being the quality of the accompanying vintage – there was no mention of any rugby at all… a theme continued by Mozza circa 2006-ish from whence this set of reports started.

And so, by way of setting the scene…

Take a look at the faces below. Players, mainly in middle age, smiling. Well, not these faces. These faces are perplexed by a refereeing decision, the sort of decision you might only ever get in veterans’ rugby.  

The modern game having moved on, the current laws provide a source of constant bewilderment which stops players simply getting on with their own technically illegal sort of game.

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Beatutiful game: Dorking Derelicts beating Old Reigatians vets     Picture: Mike Cooper-Woolley

These are good people. Mostly with families and responsibilities and insecurities and minor addictions, obsessions and superstitions. They have in common the fact that they all come together for a Saturday afternoon of robust activity on the rugby field and a great deal of fun off it… when everything else is forgotten for a while.

Veterans rugby at its very best. A motley assortment of former athletes and enthusiasts chasing around a muddy pitch. Some of them are very good indeed. Some less so. It is focussed, combative, satisfying the need for physical confrontation at an age when most players should perhaps know better. It is sometimes bruising, usually elating and regularly dangerous. It is often amusing to play in… and very definitely to watch.

It is by definition a fleeting moment in time. Every player way past his best as a sportsman and in reality just moments from retirement – forced upon us sometimes by mishap or tosspottery.

And yet in our minds we are far far from finished and as the butterflies and nerves sweep over us as we step into battle, nagging thoughts recur: What constitutes ‘showing off’? Who the f*** is Mavis The Matador? And what on Earth are we doing here?

What indeed…

NEXT: In The Zone

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A Deluded Sweaty Man Writes

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La Dolce Vita: The Derelicts v Pordenone in Italy, April 2006, final score unrecorded

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