County Champions 2012. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?! Yes, we finished the season in style with a 40-0 win against rivals Hertford in a reverse of the same game last year. The competition may have fallen on hard times but it was still an excellent way to round off a superb season.
When I played for Waterloo up in Liverpool, we played in the Lancashire Cup. I was lucky enough to reach the final, played at Sedgley Park in front of a sell-out crowd. Yes it was a 2nd team with the 1st team bench but we played every round with full intensity in front of large crowds each time.
And yet, here we were last Sunday playing in the Herts Cup final for the 2nd year running without playing a single game in the build up. I'm glad to see changes are being made to this competition next year because something needs to be done.
But, nevertheless, we were there to win. The club had never won the trophy before and we were determined to cap off our season with some silverware. And a rabble-rousing pre game talk from John Lamden certainly set us on the path.
The conditions were truly abysmal. Watford beat Old Verulamians in the 1st game in torrential rain and with a couple of inches of standing water in areas of the pitch. It seemed the Rugby Gods were mourning my retirement! However, as the warm up started, the clouds parted and sun began to shine through.
|Capt'n Morgan slides in|
We looked composed, confident and effortlessly clinical as Tommy Newton capitalised on a mistake from the Winger to touch down for the first score. Our jinking magician scored his second as he slipped through infamous Prop Baz's grasp to score under the posts.
The scrums weren't pretty but we managed to hold our own - no mean feat I can tell you. I still have nightmares of previous games against Hertford!
We dominated the breakdowns and loose play. Harry Bloomfield continued his phenomenal form with some brutal forward running and commanding play in the air at restarts and lineouts. Kiwi/Aussie Marlen was his usual bullocking self and Papa Bear Lamden proved he can certainly shift for a big lad! The Mateai Express crashed through for a score and the half was closed by a fantastic flowing team try, gratefully finished by Capt'n Morgan, sliding in from what seemed like the 22 line!
The 2nd half continued much in the same vein. Some outrageous hands in the backs lead to a second score for Wills. And then, just as a squadron of pigs flew overhead, a perfectly executed driven lineout lead to a penalty try under the posts. Yes. That's right. A push over try against Hertford!
The defending Champions fought back in the name of pride but we were determined to keep them scoreless. With our sinews stiffened, blood summoned and fair nature disguised with hard-favour'd rage (see earlier quote for the Philistines!), they finished the game with nothing.
Some may feel this was a hollow win against a 2nd team in a meaningless competition. But, as a team, we have been through a lot this year so it was something of a relief to finish with some glory.
Next year, Herts have scheduled some much needed changes to the trophy to make it more competitive. But for now the Tring's name will be etched into history forever more!
Next stop...The Players' Dinner!