THE RETURN OF THE RAVERS
Today we welcome back old friends and foes as the Caldy Ravers return to Park Lane. Caldy have been a regular feature for Sedge in league rugby, so it’s good to have them back in town to resume league rivalry following their heroic journey in National One over the last two seasons. They represented the Northwest with pride, and it’s with great sincerity that we welcome them back to Park Lane as old friends today.
As a club they love to play the ‘little old Caldy’ card, a club with a wooden shack on top of a hill, full of scouser’s. Their words not mine. I am certainly sure you would not find a hub cap or shell suit in the heart of Wirral living, unless it’s a classic roller or Armani designed. So, if they want us to believe they are a downtrodden minnow of low importance, living off scraps from the big table, then call me Ishmael!!!!!
If there is an iceberg on the horizon for HMS Sedge, then it is looming large in the binoculars today, as Caldy come here unbeaten and looking to return to National One at the first attempt. We know how hard that is, and except for the game today we wish them well for the rest of the season.
As you know we met Caldy last time out all of two weeks ago at Patton Field. The game, as was reported here, was spoilt due to the conditions for both clubs and not a classic. It was very tight for most of the quarters, but in the last quarter Caldy showed their class and pushed on, putting gloss on the performance and winning 32-11. Last week they took on second place Fylde and had a narrow 7-15 win to maintain their 100% record for the season. The Ravers had benchmarked this period of the season as their hardest part in the quest for both instant return to National One and as unbeaten Champions, so it’s so far so good for Caldy, For Sedge today it’s another crack at the Wirral men, and to see where we are as a club this season against the best there is. Sedge love a challenge; it should be a cracker of a game. Please let there be decent weather this weekend.
Last weekend as you will know there was no game at Park Lane owing to storm Dennis. I have to say I was very impressed with the new NCA protocol in place to deal with adverse weather conditions, at last there is a system to stop the ill fated wait and see on the day, or the total cop out of letting the captains decide on the day. In the situations prior to the new protocol a club could be condemned as not wanting to call off the games as there was, (A) a big lunch on, and (B) a big bar in prospect, or both.
So, the cry of foul was thrown at the home side making the opposition travel to boost, or more likely to ensure supporter participation regardless of whether the game was on or not. I know some clubs have done this and I know we have been accused of doing it, but you cannot win. The old way was to make a decision at 09.00 or before the opposition left. The weather could change dramatically within those hours, making you look foolish or worse, grubby uncaring.
This latter scenario would lead to the most bizarre event of leaving it to the captains to decide, which is an unfair requirement for any captain to undertake. Player safety or just plain chicken, the captain never wins, As stated, last week saw protocols in place about the opposition travelling. Is it safe? Make a decision early and in the case of Yorkshire Clubs most called off their games on the Friday, because they knew what was coming weather wise and what the outcome would be. In our case we had an independent referee on hand at 09.00 and in a fully grown-up conversation with Loughborough Students the right decision was made. Game off
Hallelujah. I hear you say, and Amen to that Brothers and Sisters.
However, if I can take you back a number of seasons ago in our first season back from the five seasons in the Championship, as we returned back to National One we had a very similar situation to the one outlined above, and with the best intentions and for all the right reasons we got the call on the Christmas game completely wrong. Honest !!
For our big Christmas game that season we were scheduled to play Redruth Reds from Cornwall (who in their right mind came up with that fixture), and during the week prior to the game the weather was fine, no major issues were expected. As mid-week approached we were getting weather warnings regarding a cold front with snow expected in the South and Midlands, but nothing for the North or more precisely the North West. To be on the safe side we opened dialogue with Redruth and Sedge CEO, Mr Roberts, explained the situation and both clubs agreed to keep in touch.
The agreement in place was that Sedge would give Redruth an update at 12.00 on the Friday just before Redruth were about to leave. I remember the afternoon well, it was quite a nice day here in Whitefield (that was the unfortunate descriptive term used to Redruth) and it was agreed the Cornishmen would travel.
Saturday morning came, and there was concern in the Redruth camp as the first snow flakes began to fall outside their Macclesfield based hotel. A phone call was received around 09.00am from our visitors asking if the game was on. ‘Yes’ was the reply, and to give some credence and impartially Mr Roberts had a arranged for a Championship referee to carry out a the pitch inspection. Cold but perfect conditions was the result. I should know I was there.
12-30 came, and out came ‘rent a do’, commonly known as the Sedgley Park membership in their Christmas jumpers all prepared for the Christmas booze up. At about 12-45 the sky turned to an an odd shade of Green, then Grey, then White, and with it a blizzard came from nowhere. As I was taking my place for the meal I could hardly see the pitch, such was the white out. Sadly, what I did see was the Redruth Reds coach slipping and sliding into the car park, and although I could not see their faces, I could guess their mood !!!
Not amused, the Redruth committee and supporters joined us for the pre-match hospitality and this did tend to thaw things out slightly. However, the most bizarre sight of the day was everyone staring out of main window overlooking the first XV pitch watching Mr Roberts in true Scott of the Antarctic mode, complete with line marking machine, trying to desperately mark the pitch out. Now that was some effort as the pitch was white with at least 4 inches on at that point and he was using the normal white line paint. He disappeared into the blizzard closely followed by a huge Cornish Gorilla looking to thank him for his efforts, and was not seen again that day !! The show must go on. You couldn’t make it up.
THE TALE OF TWO EDDIES
Finally, we have a tale of two Eddies, one is of ‘Big Eddie’, a cult figure of ‘Rolling Maul’ forum and Caldy stalwart, and the other one is the Scots person who has probably just spoiled your lunch, again, during his MC duties.
One is most relevant and the other incredibly irrelevant!!!!!!
To the former we welcome ‘Big Eddie’ A Caldy stalwart and top ‘Rolling Mauler’ who has been over the years a big agitator of change and opinion in the game, a total wind up merchant, manipulating opinion with a wink of the eye (hard to do on a keyboard) to agent provocateur to destabilise the force of the day in the league, Fylde and Sale FC come to mind in recent years. It is also believed he was once the poetic voice of Jason Robinson who kept social media updated. (when he turned out for Fylde some seasons back).
Love him or not, his ‘tour de force’ was achieved a few seasons ago when he once agitated both supporters and clubs alike. He was able to find common ground from a forum of people who could not agree on the time of day. This single voice tabled questions, much to the annoyance of the RFU, of competence or lack of it by the RFU triggering interest from all the daily papers, red tops and broadsheets, all of whom carried the story to bring welcome interrogation of the mismanagement of our wonderful game. (see previous piece)
A rugby man, most definitively a club man, but most of all a man with a passion for the game. Welcome to Park Lane Big Eddie.
The other Eddie, well you all know him, destroyer of jokes and humour, destroyer of pre-match lunches but most of all loser of rugby wagers of all sizes. Please if I may could I repeat the same statement from last week’s notes from behind the posts? In my now regular dig at your Master of Ceremonies each week at the pre-match meal, Eddie McAldred, the laird of Clan McUnfunny, I would just like to ask him what the score was two weeks ago. Eddie was it a case of the conditions being far too windy for the Scots or was it something else! Whatever! I await my winnings. Again. I wonder how long the wait will be this time??
Eddie you have kept my drinks cabinet very well stocked over the years, and I look forward to more in the years to come.