Old Cranleighans 10 Derelicts 0
They’d been following yonder sodding star for what seemed like forever, Skip and a motley assortment of wise men. Laden with Golden Virginia, some cheap scent off a bloke called Frank and Stellas, they’d set off from The Orient (or possibly the Khyber Pass) and, frankly, what had seemed like a cracking idea had turned a bit peculiar.
The family-size crate of lager – well what else do you bring for the new Messiah? – was getting heavy. “My f*cking arms are getting a bit f*cking sore,” moaned Skip.
“Where is the little bleeder that will save us all?” he thought. “There’s got to be a genuine veteran back somewhere in Mole Valley.”
Gez had come up with the idea. An extraordinarily bright star had appeared in the cold December night sky and Gez had reasoned – for reasoning was something Gez did awfully well – it to be an omen.
“Guys, guys… it’s trying to tell us something. These things don’t just appear without reason.”
“Exactly,” said Gerbil. “Let’s follow the b*stard and it’s sure to bring us better fortune at the very least. We can’t keep fielding a team of forwards. We need backs too.”
“Yeers,” said Jonah. “I think you’re quite right boys, let us follow it and see where it leads. Come along lads. All off to find the new Messiah. Wolfie? Do you have the sock?”
“You’re off your raddled old heads boys,” said Skip.
But something had struck a chord. The results lately had been, well, a bit of a disgrace frankly and he needed to take action. Besides, the star was indeed very bright and he felt it was worth a punt.
“But if it’s for the good of the team, you can count me in.”
And with that they all downed their sherbets, expelled gases and marched out into the dimly-lit High Street and headed “…er, West, wasn’t it?” said Raymondo.
Their journey, as all good journeys do, meandered and weaved and they met all manner of characters along the way. Amongst them were charlatans and rogues purporting to know what the appearance of the star meant and what they might find by following it.
“It leads directly to the door of Mavis The Matador,” said one haggard figure from a dark side street. “Offer unto him your presents and wait with the shepherds.”
“Sit in the sheep sh*t and offer an inducement to Mavis?” snorted Gerbil. “B*ll*cks to that. He can’t catch and he can’t tackle!”
“Let’s sign him up then,” said Skip.
“Er,” said Gez, “not a priority move I think Skip. Catching’s a fundamental requirement, like applying too much Vaseline or taking the p*ss out of Wolfie or standing on the scrum-half’s toes..”
“Is it?” said an astonished Skip. “It’s never stopped The Juggler playing or for that matter Blokey Chap or Wolfie or… ”
His voice drifted off. He could name more. The Juggler was haphazard, Blokey Chap was completely and utterly useless in every facet of his play except banter and half-mad Wolfie was a complete liability. Gez might have a point.
So their incredible journey continued once more, Skip moaning about his tired arms, Gez firing off information updates and weather forecasts while Lord Greed kept morale high with preposterous tales about his days in the adult movie industry.
And then, suddenly, a voice from behind a bush, or perhaps from within the bush, cried out: “Hairnet has contact with the Chosen One.”
“What the… someone’s having a laugh,” said Pomf The Pilot. “How could Hairnet know the whereabouths of the King Of Kings?”
The voice grew insistent. Follow the heavenly sign to Esher. A bright light that made the chaps shelter their eyes, followed by a whirring sound occurred…
The next afternoon Skip and the boys headed for Kingston, took a left under the railway bridge and entered into the eerie half-light of the Old Cranleighans’ fetid changing rooms.
“Hello boys,” said Hairnet. “Meet Andy.”
Well, who needs the new Messiah anyway. But a decent fly-half? That’s a different story. That’s certainly not just for Christmas.
And so it came to pass that the new chap pepped up the general standard of backwaltzing for a bit and no mistake. It’s just a pity that the rest of us couldn’t raise our game. A game, indeed, very much for the taking. Alas.
Still, after a few pre-Crimbo rounds of Pride back at Brockham (not Bethlehem at all it transpired after all that) a general sense of bon homie and joy to one and all pervaded the bar and we thought in fairness that the oppo tackled well, the pitch was heavy and apart from the try and penalty we gifted them – they never looked like scoring. We had a lot of possession, but rarely looked like crossing the whitewash either.
That old scamp Rodders directed the rucking game well, Scud hit the No4 jumper repeatedly (and for a change it was our No4) and we managed the odd rolling thunder maul. Some “crikey, wouldn’t want to be on the end of that type tackles” by Ginge and Andy, some spirited running from Gerbil and much general splendidness from The Count and The Challice deserve mention in an enjoyable, typical vets rugby encounter.
Andy lived up to the hype with great hands, thunderous kicks and lots of industry. “Don’t let it worry you son,” said Gazza afterwards, “we’ll make a Derelict of you yet.” After which it was decided he be christened Noddy.
Other new names were being conjured up for The Juggler who performed his very best Big Top routine of the season with some mercurial tosspottery under the high ball and indeed the low ball and the perfect pass. All spilled, of course, with the final drop being followed by a rousing chorus of the Billy Smart Roll-up Roll-up theme tune echoing around the park. It’s for moments like these that we play.
The match-report keyboard will fall silent for the next couple of weeks while I undergo therapy for my ill-advised kicking out of hand. There’s a shop in the high street offering an electro-convulsion aversion therapy treatment.
It seems an oval ball will be placed in front of my naked body. Wearing the gimp mask, I must pick it up. But should I attempt to kick it, doses of electricity will be dispatched by a lovely young woman called Flossie through a steel rod up my *rse. I’ve booked in for six sessions to start with.
Sadly, some of you will only be getting socks and slippers this Christmas.
Peace and happiness.
Squad: Mozza, Scud, Pomf The Pilot, Skip, Ginge, Jez, The Count, The Challice,
Hairnet, Rodders, Gazza, Gerbil, Noddy, Lord Greed, Raymondo, The Juggler.