6. The Turd Shovel’s Behind The Posts

Derelicts 13    (Not So) Old Cranleighans XV 31

“What’s his problem now?” muttered a voice in the line-out.

“There’s a giant turd just there in my channel,” whined the midget oppo No10, pointing to a fetid mound inside the 22.

“Don’t worry,” said The Challice, “you’ll find a shovel behind the post.”

The gimpy veteran back immediately detailed a young chap to scuttle off to have a look.

“It’s not here!” shrieked the fretful, fresh-faced lad.

“Then it must be behind the other post,” suggested The Challice.

Cue more scurrying.

“No, no, it’s not here either,” wailed the boy, by now in a mild frenzy.

“Well, it usually is,” shrugged The Challice with that cheeky blank grin that invited the whinging tosser to clear it up himself.

How we laughed.

What wasn’t so funny was the oppo turning up with Timmy, Sally, Tristan and Lillian among a clutch of half a dozen young bucks. There was the bloke at prop who used to play Junior rugby with Jonny Wilkinson (that’ll make him about 28 then), the streak of p*ss second row playing his first ever senior game and a decent, young No8. Behind the scrum they also boasted a couple of young speed merchants. Just in case.

“I’m 34,” protested one of their big centre units indignantly as he limped off later in the game, clearly aware of the dissatisfaction of this age imbalance on the touchline.

“Exactly chum, so not yet the required 35-years-old… ” seethed our intergalactic diplomat Buzz. “And you’ve been playing against us for several years! So this isn’t a one-off, you’ve been taking the p*ss for years.”

We don’t have a problem with this. Really we don’t. Just so long as it’s no more than a couple of players under 35 as the rules allow. Trouble is… you can guarantee their 20 or 30-something year-old legs will always be able to out-sprint our 40 and 50-year-old limbs. So it isn’t exactly a fair match. And the young herberts also get a bit uppity when the forward exchanges get a bit lively because they lack strength and guile. And, frankly, humour.

That’s why they shouldn’t be there. Being a young man is surely all about hair product, prancing about in fashionable but slightly uncomfortable shoes and premature ejaculation. Not proving you can outpace players old enough to be your dad or even grandad.

“I skinned the fat, bald bloke. He never stood a chance.” Oh well done you … now f*ck off back to the 1st XV, let us older chaps enjoy our afternoon with other elder statesmen of the game. And get a life, you spotty-faced, deluded dick.

In the face of this the Derelicts were fabulous on Saturday, bar nobody. Bar nobody!! There were some cracking highlights in what was otherwise a good vets contest, most of which I probably failed to spot. But here goes…

First up was tetchy Raymondo, a distinguished moustachioed talisman who has found a renewed vigour this season. The oppo, who were looking to kick over the top to use their pace, misjudged and Ray leapt like a Salmon to snatch the high ball and scoot around his man. The shock of this world class manouevre left old Ray a bit fuddled when all he had to do next was sidestep the last man to grab a try. The front row – Prior Arrangement, Ancient Scud and Mozza – were unanimous in their agreement of how they wouldn’t have f***ed such a piss-easy chance, as they stood watching 50 yards away.

Great efforts continued to flow… The scrum was immense. We won all our own put-ins and most of theirs. The pack kept rumbling ominously forward, The Challice and Hairnet dominated the line-outs, and Buzz and The Count kept everything moving sweetly. Reigate Mike and Gazza reminded us all of Gareth Edwards and Barry John in their pomp, freeing up Lords Greg and Greed for some penetrating runs in the centre, including a few decent half-breaks, while Bone-Breaker Bushe and The Juggler – having a cracking all round game and a disallowed try after resetting the false hands once again – lurked menacingly at the fringes of these clever back moves.

And then we were 7-0 down after one of the Herberts soared away from our defence for the lead, very much against the run of play. It was to be the theme of the game. When we kept it tight we were pretty unstoppable and we answered back not long after when Hairnet touched down from the back of another massive scrum.

Some slack tackling allowed them a second score and a third inevitably followed. But the interval brought renewed optimism, a robust reminder from Buzz of our duties and the timely arrival of Ginge’s port. Huzzah!

A quick gargle and a swift rearrangement followed with the introduction of Tighthead Gav, Kinger and Thorners to offer up front, well, certainly a great deal more noise, plus the addition of Swerve and pacy Secret Agent Percy to inject some extra, er, va va voom in the backs.

By now their young streak in the second row was quite lucky in his first senior game of rugby of any sort not to be sin binned for his nonsense, or indeed sparked out. What a w*nker. But it wasn’t us who lost their cool.

We also showed we had a bit of grunt left and from sustained pressure on their line Hairnet made his way through the traffic to collect his second try of the afternoon, before Swerve executed his nimble-footed barreling technique to squeeze over for the third, which he converted.

The oppo were still ahead, but resorted to kicking penalties at goal to a derogatory, port-fuelled chorus of hoots from the touchline.

Afterwards their captain, a jolly decent chap, explained that they simply had to draft in a clutch of first team players to make up the numbers or cancel the game. Well, obviously we’d rather play than not … and whinge about it later in private. So we will keep this to ourselves.

I suggest Skip try that tactic next time he’s short of numbers for an away fixture. Just draft in a few from the 1st XV. QED. Job done. Efficient? Yes. Sneaky? Ditto.

We must also, I feel, make a point of sending their captain a Christmas card next year, perhaps like the one Victor Lewis Smith sent to national literary treasure Alan Bennett.

On the front it read: “God loves everybody.” Inside Lewis Smith had thoughtfully inscribed: “Except you, ya b*stard!”

Remain vigilant, our work is not yet finished.

Squad: Prior Arrangement, Scud, Mozza, Big Gav, Pomf the pilot, Ginge, Kinger, Thorners, Buzz, The Count, The Challice, Hairnet, Reigate Mike, Gazza, Swerve, Raymondo, Lord Greg, Lord Greed, Secret Agent Percy, Bone-Breaker Bushe, The Juggler. Skip, Ros, Young Jasper, a modest touchline crowd.

NEXT: 7. A Visit To Flossie For Christmas       Previous: 5. The Wrong Changing Room

TOUR REPORTS: Apocalypse Neuil L’espoire   or  how about   101 Damnations