Dorking 17 London Welsh 38
Let’s play a board game. We’ll call it: You Silly Old B*stard.
The idea will be simply to roll dice, land on squares, follow instructions and enjoy sherbets. Who wins? Well, how long’s a pigeon?
So, for instance, you roll a six which allows you onto the hallowed sloping field that is Pitch 3, avoiding the fox sausage, but landing on a square marked with a rugby boot and the instruction: Ref fails to spot Pomf handling on floor, but gargoyle oppo hooker with Tourettes gobs off to ref. Penalty your way. Gazza boots precisely for touch, advance four. So you advance four squares, but the new square is marked with a surgical truss and the instruction: Scud Veness foolishly chases loose ball, does self a mischief. Go back four paces.
So you retreat four and land on a square with a cocktail glass and the instruction: On tour! The Challice orders grappas all round for breakfast. Those refusing will miss a turn. Everyone else down a further unidentifiable local spirit and toddle forward 10 squares.
You roll a three and land on a square marked ‘Salon’. Instruction: Tap is merry and shouts: “It’s time to shave the bears!” Amid perplexed looks, he announces he’s paid a girl called Zaza and her friend to give the team a ‘Brazilian’. Everyone waxed, back and front, while singing Le Marseillais. Gingerely tiptoe back three squares.
And then you land on that awkward corner square marked with a big fat exclamation mark. You turn over a Fat Chance card and prepare to go backwards because the team’s short and Skip’s called up Mavis The Matador. Immediately retreat 10 paces, cursing.
And on it goes. The Count’s been at the oxygen bottle again and runs the length of the pitch to score and we advance. A high ball bounces off The Juggler’s head and we retreat. Ginge downs an unfeasible amount of Guinness pre-match, we advance. Kinger twats the oppo’s imbecile No8 “because it had to happen sooner or later”, we retreat. Skip sneaks an oppo line-out, advance 10! Prop has the vapours, unexpectedly kicks away promising position, miss a go. Handy Andy unexpectedly passes to a support player, go for a lie down. Miss go. Oddjob gets seven swift jabs in on the cocky flanker, advance six.
Fragile pirate-faced Cliffy plays consecutive games, advance two. Gerbil has pre-match bout of the plague, back two. Type 42 spots a frigate in the local stretch of river, lose will to live. Retreat three. Jonah smiles mischieviously at you. It could get expensive. Check wallet. Advance two. Wolfie arrives with the Port. Miss turn. Someone suggests playing Schiffa Schaffa … everybody retreat several. Go to bar. Drink copious amounts of Pride. Hurrah and Huzzah
It was a bit like that on Saturday against the Welsh. To-ing and fro-ing, the dice coming up a bit awkward. But we had a go in the end.
But to start with it was “the usual please barman”. A bit of evenly matched stuff followed by our customary trudge back behind the posts as the oppo sped in an early try wide out.
Encouragingly we bounced back and played the game squarely in their half and put them under real pressure in the scrum. After a few phases being thwarted on their line, Ginge thundered over for the leveller and Gazza put us ahead with the kick. Huzzah!
And then inexplicably we were 22-7 adrift despite having the edge in most areas. Except speed, of course. Oh, and hair.
It even went to 29-7 adrift and the possibility of the sort of nonsense scoreline we haven’t endured for a long while. But then our luck changed. We threw a six and brought on a battery of fresh legs. We advanced up the field where we stayed for much of the half. If their scrum was in trouble in the first half, it got markedly worse as Oddjob and Bouncy turned the screw. We worked them over in the set piece and set Thorners free for a try to prove the old b*stard’s back on fire after having the boiler refurbished.
Then the miracle. The conversion of Lord Greed to a passing centre. Camping back in their 22, we forced the pace, drew tacklers into the ruck and sped the ball wide to Gazza, Cliffy and then Lord Greed who sent the Light Brigade over for a fine try. “I strode through a couple of tackles to the line and selflessly passed to the wing, fully expecting him to f*ck it up,” said Greed. “Imagine my surprise!”
Yes, and ours.
And for a while after that, at 31-19, we should have made it closer still. But, but, but… but sometimes we are Silly Old Bastards.
Game ends. Form a tunnel. The Welsh boys sing Bread Of Heaven to us. We sing back: “You can stick your bread of heaven up your ar*e. You can stick your bread of heaven up your *rse. You can stick your bread of heaven. Stick your bread of heaven. Stick your bread of heaven up your ars*!” Laughs all round. Worth the price of admission alone. Happy Days.
Advance to bar. Have another roll of the dice next week.
Live the dream.
Squad: Mozza, Scud, Bouncy, Tighthead Gav, Oddjob, Skip, Ginge, Prior Arrangement, Reigate Mike, The Challice, Buzz, Thorners, Rodders, Young Ben, Gazza, Raymondo, The Whippet, Cliffy, Lord Greed, Handy, Fast Graham, The Juggler