What On Earth Are We Doing Here?

The Derelicts Reports are a selection of match reports of the adventures of a veterans’ rugby team. You could call this a true and accurate record of what went on, but that wouldn’t be true. You won’t find detailed match analysis, but you will find a few choice snatches of conversations, some unkind observations and some embellished moments.

The reports evolved over several glorious seasons which are split into sections: Happy Days and Dark Days. Each of the 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, which will appear in due course.

There are also some extra musings on tours and trips plus a few pictures and even grainy videos of those involved. You know who you are! If you have other photos, videos or collectables from the Derelicts past, please feel free to pass them over or link them 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, practical jokes and a run out of a Saturday.

The first reports of the Derelicts adventures are now lost in the mists of time, like spats and smoking compartments on trains… although some of the founding fathers such as Humfrey Malins, Peter Moore, Mick Levey and Tony Bryan have given me vital clues as to the origin of the Derelicts. There will be more of this anon.

But in the early Noughties the weekly reports were written 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 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 surreal decision you might only ever get in veterans’ rugby.  

The modern game having moved on, the current laws provide a source of constant bewilderment to the vet which stops players simply getting on with their own technically illegal sort of game. The decisions of ageing refs only add to the confusion. 

What are you on about Sir? Dorking Derelicts forwards perplexed Picture: Mike Cooper-Woolley

These are good people. Including the refs. 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. 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, regularly dangerous and often rather funny. Certainly 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 – which can sometimes be forced upon us 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

Special thanks to Jess Roberts for the main blog illustration. You can find out more about her work on the link HERE

Derelicts - Venice March 2006 048
La Dolce Vita: The Derelicts v Pordenone in Italy, April 2006, final score unrecorded