The league finished two weeks ago with a conflicting home loss to Hertford - an encouraging performance but ultimately a disappointing loss to a top table side there for the picking. Now we find ourselves in the slightly bizarre position of reaching the Hertfordshire County Cup Final without playing a game! Our earlier round ties against Bishops Stortford and Letchworth were both cancelled, giving us a bye to the final.
The game has taken on extra significance as our opposition will be…Hertford. It is a chance for immediate revenge and to cap off a much improved season with some silverware. There are questions about the credibility of the cup as most participants field weakened teams, opting to concentrate on league success. However, with no other cup competition at our level and the league finished, it would certainly be a perfect opportunity for an enjoyable outing in the sun - weather permitting.
I have never won a final at senior level. I played in the Lancashire Cup Final for Waterloo, losing comprehensively to Preston Grasshoppers. We played at Sedgley Park in Bury on a beautiful day and in front of a large crowd. Unfortunately, nerves got the better of me and I had a shocker! So, from a personal point of view, I have a number of demons to exorcise on Sunday.
There are also a few issues surrounding availability which are slightly worrying. This unexpected fixture was not accounted for on the original match schedule so several of the boys had already arranged holidays with long-suffering wives/girlfriends. We have a couple of injuries and people whose bodies have simply had enough!
This offers an excellent opportunity to some of the younger players to start making a claim for next year’s first team shirts. It will be particularly good to see the likes of Josh Smith and Harry ‘Go Go Gadget arms’ Bloom field raise their respective profiles.
I am definitely looking forward to the game - which will be played at Harpenden RFC at 330pm Sunday 1st May for those who are interested - and for once feel my fitness is in good shape! Instead of putting my feet up for the last couple of weeks, I have been working hard on sprints and fitness for one final blowout on Sunday and also as the Sevens season started in earnest last weekend.
I am currently playing for Neil Fischer’s Otters team - a mixture of his old Loughborough friends. The team is now in its 11th year and boasts an impressive pedigree. A respected regular on the domestic circuit, the Otters have also notched up some international experience, playing at Dubai, Copenhagen, Roma and Rimini. Needless to say, they are a top bunch and I hope to pull on the jersey a few more times this year.
On Saturday, the O-Unit competed in the Old Cats 7s in Caterham. It was a funny little tournament to be honest with a full and varied array of abilities on show. You get the feeling it’s not the most serious of tournaments when several of the opposition are wearing trainers!
As is customary at Sevens tournaments, we had an early scare against Oakthorpe - an Abingdon old boys side - but came through to win 36-22. We topped the group comfortably, beating John Fisher 2s 53-0 and Cow Tipping Penguins 51-12.
The tournament then noticeably stepped up in quality and we played local invitational side The Stags. The first half was close but we held our shape and pulled away in the second half - 36-10 the final score (I think!). The semi-final was against National 3 rivals Dorking. They were a very strong and physical side but also had dangerous pace as well. It was an exciting see-saw game but they proved a little too strong and quick for us, and we eventually lost out 32-21...or something like that! It’s difficult to keep track of the scores when your playing so many games.
Dorking went on to win the tournament, comfortably beating Warlingham in the final. Interestingly, Jimmy ‘No Shower’ Fouracre was playing for the Midwives who also got the semi-finals. But as they lost to the finalist who lost to Dorking by more than us, I think it’s safe to say we would have beaten them ;-)!!