Wirral vs Wallasey
Fly me to the moon......
Fly me to the moon……. Let me play among the stars….. So sang Frank Sinatra in 1964 on his album with Count Basie It Might as Well Be Swing. The song had been written by Bart Howard ten years earlier and was originally titled ‘In Other Words.’ What has this got to do with rugby? - Absolutely nothing. Except that, on the evening of December 3rd, there was a so-called Super Moon. Of course, cloud cover meant that none of us would see it.
And so it came to pass that, on the first Sunday of Advent, thousands of supporters, family and friends of Wirral and Wallasey under 15’s delayed getting the Xmas decs out of the loft to travel to Wirral’s Memorial Ground for this eagerly awaited fixture in the sporting calendar. First team coach, Matty Cairns, has long-lamented how Shaun Seddon’s charges can pull a bigger gate than his first team. Vando has long-wished that he’d charged an admission fee for these games that would have ‘raised the roof’ months ago. In fact, they could probably have built a stadium to match the proposed development at Bramley Moore dock. That’s one for the committee at the next AGM.
Top of coach Shaun Seddon’s Christmas list (well, after the truck loads of red wine) is about eight extra players. Even if everybody is available, the under 15’s can only muster about fourteen and on this day Wirral managed to gather in eleven players, and one of those was making his first visit to the club. Team selection was easy- if you turned up you got a game. Wirral would line up with a front row of Josh C, Ben S and Isaac S and our locks would be Caleb M-S and Isaac N. In the absence of Miles, our scrum-half would be Ollie P and Peter B would play fly-half. The centre pairing were Christie C and Evan R and Curtis would make his debut on the wing with Tom P at full-back. So we were playing without flankers, a No8 and a winger. Fortunately, Wallasey agreed to keep some of their players on the touchline to make it 11 v 11.
Mr Nisbet turned up expecting to walk Fox the dog round the pitch while his son played in the second row. He’d just got off a plane from the USA. He was the match referee. He had neither boots nor a whistle. He was severely jet-lagged. “Have you tried Melatonin?” said a passing GP, rather unhelpfully “they’re great for jet-lag.”
So, while Shaun Seddon put the team through their set plays and warm-up drills, deputy coach Fishy Chandler got to hold Fox the dog’s leash while Mr Nisbet went off in search of a whistle - and some melatonin.
I turned up not expecting to write a match report so my match notes were written on the back of a hastily procured envelope. Hence today’s report will be 10% fact and 90% waffle- which is ‘no different to any other match report’ I hear you say. It will, however, be shorter than the usual four sides of A4- more Five go mad on Kirren Island than War and Peace.
As the sides lined up for the kick-off, the noise from the crowd rose to a crescendo. The sun beat down and Fox the dog howled from the touchline while straining at the leash and threatening to drag Fishy Chandler, ‘Blazing Saddles’ style, across the pitch. Mr Nisbet checked his watch- still 6 am Eastern time- and blew his whistle. Wallasey kicked off into a slight breeze.
In the first few minutes, play ebbed and flowed back and forth and left and right as each attack probed the opposition’s defences and each defence checked out what the opposition’s attack had to offer. Wallasey had a pretty decent scrum and were even better at counter-rucking so Wirral were forced to get the ball shipped away quickly. Fortunately, Wirral’s new scrum-half, Ollie P, was well up for the task and this speed of delivery to the backs was to prove decisive. From a backwards moving scrum, he was able to claim the ball and pass it to Peter B who fed a lively Curtis who passed to Evan R and he made valuable yards before releasing Tom P to fly down the right wing and touch down for a try under the posts. Evan R added the two points for a conversion.
In what seemed like a blink of the eye, soon after the re-start, Evan R got the ball and set off from his own half, down the left wing, like a scalded cat, weaving this way and that, leaving would-be tacklers grasping at thin air, as he raced for the line to touch down for another try. This time he missed the conversion.
The restart failed to go 10, so Wirral had a scrum on halfway. Wirral’s front row of Josh C, Ben S and especially Isaac S were playing like men ‘possessed’ with fearsome tackling and ferocious rucking and mauling- they had to be on their mettle because Wallasey were well up for the contest and kept stealing the ball in rucks. From the scrum, quick ball from Ollie P gave Peter B the time to kick the ball downfield and it was a foot race to the try line with Evan R leading the way. Pandemonium broke out in the end zone as attackers and defenders all tried to claim the bouncing ball. Good defence saw to it that it was a defender that dabbed it down for a 22 meter drop out and prevent another try.
Then it was Wallasey’s time to attack and it took a desperate tackle from Tom P to stop a certain try. Meanwhile, Christie C was creating mayhem at the breakdown tackling anything that moved above ground level regardless of who they played for and whether they had the ball or not. Mr C roared on support from the touchline before going back to telling everybody about his adventures in Halifax and the downsides of taking codeine for back pain.
By now match referee Mr Nisbet looked like he might expire out on the pitch. Fishy Chandler handed Fox the dog’s lead to an unsuspecting Coach Seddon and as Fishy skipped off to get something from the car, Coach Seddon found himself being hauled out on to the pitch as Fox the dog attempted to reach his master. Fearing a crowd invasion, Mr Nisbet blew his whistle to end the half.
Score: Wirral - 12 Wallasey - 0.
After a rest for the players and a lie down and a cup of strong coffee and a jammy dodger for the referee, the players took to the field for the second half. Wallasey made changes to their playing personnel while Wirral kept the same 11 out there.
With a blast on the referee’s whistle, Peter B kicked the re-start deep into Wallasey territory. With the breeze behind them, it was the visitor’s turn to go on the attack and it didn’t take long for them to break out and hurtle down the left wing for a certain try that drew applause from all round the ground, except a revitalised Mr Nisbet spotted a defender’s arm holding the ball off the ground and the try wasn’t given.
Wirral managed to clear the ball up field and it was the home side that was on the attack and desperate visitor’s defence managed to steal the ball in a ruck and an attempt to lose the ball by kicking it into the next field was thwarted by the trees. Wirral managed to lose a non-contested line-out and, despite a trademark Josh C kamikaze tackle, Wallasey drove the ball up the field to score under the posts. Conversion good.
Peter B took the restart and then Wirral stood in awe and watched as a Wallasey player caught the ball and set off like an express train down the wing to score the try of the day in the left corner. Conversion missed.
Form the re-start, it was the home side that were soon on the attack. Peter B took the ball into contact and was able to offload the ball to a marauding Caleb M-S who passed to Evan R who passed to Tom P on the overlap and Tom P was able to run round the last defender and score under the posts. Evan R took the conversion.
Soon after the re-start a jaded and fading-fast Mr Nisbet managed to summon up the strength to blow on his whistle to bring the second half to a close.
2nd half score : Wirral - 7 Wallasey - 12.
At this point our referee was calling for match sticks to hold his eyes open. No one in the crowd were smokers so his pleas went unanswered. He’d have to referee the third half while half asleep. Wallasey’s parents and supporters were kindly organising a whip-round to buy him a white stick and some dark glasses.
As the players took to the field, Wirral acquired another player which meant that Wallasey could bring on another player and we could play 12 a side rugby. Now Wirral had two Ollie P’s on the field- one with an ‘i’ and one with a ‘y.’
Wallasey kicked off the third half (we do that sort of thing at Wirral) and play set off at a great pace again. There was more good play form both sides with ferocious rucking and mauling. Everybody was tackling bravely without fear for their own safety. Isaac N was playing like a demon and Curtis was having the game of his life. Well, as this was his first game it would be the game of his life. But for a very good tackle he would have marked his debut with a try. Play ebbed back and forth and when Peter B got the ball on half way, he repeated the grubber kick down the pitch. Evan R set off in hot pursuit and after kicking on he slid in to ground the ball. To many it looked like he’d knocked on but Mr Nisbet was right on the spot to award the try. The conversion was good.
From the restart, Wirral were back on the attack and, in a classic backs move that was straight out of the Shaun Seddon coaching manual, Evan R passed to Peter B who darted through a gap to score under the posts- or so he thought. Hawkeye Nisbet had spotted a forward pass and Wallasey had themselves a scrum.
Wirral were soon back on the attack taking play down the field to the visitors’ 5 metre line. After a few rucks, the ever-willing Christie C danced through the defence to score a try. The conversion was missed.
Then it was Wallasey’s turn to attack and they pressed towards the host’s five meter line. The visitors broke through and seemed to have scored a try but it was disallowed for a knock-on. From the scrum, Wirral were able to clear their lines with one of Peter B’s kicks down the park. Just as everybody was starting to think of a warming drink in the clubhouse, Evan R got the ball and he set off down the pitch like an electrocuted road-runner to score from 60 yards out. Conversion was good. The next time the ball went dead, Mr Nisbet blew up and brought an end to proceedings.
Score third half : Wirral - 19 Wallasey - 0.
Final score : Wirral - 38 Wallasey - 12.
Well done to everybody for a very good game with some exciting rugby. Wallasey had the better scrum and were excellent at counter-rucking. Wirral probably had the better 9 and 10 and had more pace in the backs. Well done everybody. Thanks to Mr Nisbet for referee-ing when he’d rather be in bed. Thanks to Fishy Chandler for minding Fox the dog. “Time for a drink” said Coach Seddon.
Next week - training at home.