U12 away vs Frampton Coterhill
Fireworks at Frampton
Remember, remember, the 5th of November…well it turned out to be unforgettable. Sunday morning dawned and my body switched to auto pilot. I rolled out of bed and peeked out of the curtains at an ungodly hour, sub consciously knowing it was Rugby Time. Mercifully I had exercised some restraint at the annual Bonfire get-together with the neighbours and my hangover was conspicuous by its absence. I was still blinded by the clear blue skies and early morning sunshine.
By 9 am five of us plus kit (and the dog bed which I had forgotten to remove), crammed into the car for the long voyage south. We knew that others were travelling down to darkest depths of the county and it seems we all went via numerous different routes, dependent upon the origin or reliability of Satellite navigation aids. I was using my old friend Sergei’s “Super YakNav” which disturbingly misguided me via prisons, dark country lanes and a series of sinister, glowering moustachioed figures. We switched to old fashioned navigation & looked at roadsigns. Finally we spotted one for Frampton Cotterell.
Popular opinion is that Frampton Cotterell is a small village in the southernmost part of Gloucestershire. However, many forget the little heralded progressive folk-rock combo named after the village. At their peak during the halcyon days of the 1970’s when they supported Thotch at Glastonbury (village hall). Their breakthrough concept album “Show Me the Way PschycaDelia Cooks Eggs” included ‘Wagon Wheels Ain’t the Size they Used to Be’, “Orange & Brown Jaffa Cake Mama” and ‘Ice Lolly E-Numbers’.
Eventually we pulled into the crammed car park and I congratulated myself in squeezing the chariot into a forgotten corner.
I was promptly directed towards the facilities which lay “Behind the Green Door. Alas, the quest for the perfect baps will continue. The coffee and bacon buttie served their purpose but were uninspired. Perhaps I am setting my sights too high. Nevertheless I live in hope.
Selection problems clearly lie ahead for the coaching team. 22 players were expectantly waiting to be picked to play. The coaching staff quickly devised a two-pronged method to reduce the numbers. Firstly, they corralled the players away from the changing rooms, in a small, bitterly cold wind channel blowing in from the Baltics. Then, brilliantly, the coaches unveiled the fantastic sparkling new kit. For those who haven’t seen it the special edition Yak Weave shirts are a dramatic shade of black with some red and yellow bits, emblazoned with the GPH sponsors logo. 9End of year quiz for what GPH stands for). Matching long and short shorts were also produced for short, medium and long boys. The boys’ challenge was to cast off their existing kit and locate new garments that vaguely fitted their ever-changing forms. The longer it took the colder the got & we all assumed that the natural law of the jungle, survival of the fittest, would lead to at least 8 or 9 lads developing hypothermia and making selection far easier. But the boys are a now hardy breed and after much rummaging they all survived the ordeal. So the coaching team must be congratulated in rotating Andrew, Harry, Will, Sam, Jamie, James, Jimmy, Luke, Connor, Alfie, Ewan, Denby, Sean, Seb, Josh, Morgan, Henry, Tom, Ben A, Benny B, Ben P, Ben W and a partridge in a pear tree throughout the morning proceedings.
It was no surprise when we were directed towards the furthest corner of the adjacent municipal playing fields. Away from the shelter and facilities the Baltic breeze brought a familiar chill to my bones. The coaches engaged the players in a vigorous warm up as we awaited the 10.45 kick off.
Needless to say, kick-off was delayed. We waited while as we waited for a small boy on a bike to arrive to make up the numbers for the hosts. The home side now had the minimum number to start & may have been slightly intimidated as they surveyed the Bredon hoard. A short delay followed as Frampton could not provide a referee. Fortunately, Steve stepped in to offer his services again. Despite the plunging temperature Steve bravely still sported his trademark shorts. His liberal interpretation at the breakdown allowed the game to flow despite some grumblings from the home coach.
The game eventually started and the sun came out. Soon the sunglasses were on as Bredon hit their stride and in blinding sunshine they produced some dazzling rugby. Inspired by the history of the day they exploded into action. The coaches had clearly lit the blue touch paper (Will gave them a rocket in his team talk) and Frampton were forced to retreat. There were flashes of brilliance, sparks of genius and some pretty loud bangs as the boys set about their work. It wasn’t perfect but by half time the temperature had risen and Bredon had stormed into a 6-0 lead.
The coaches rang the changes giving all the players an opportunity to perform. As the home side sustained a couple of injuries James, Ben A and Denby all guested for the opposition. It’s a credit to all three that they were as combative against their team-mates as they were playing with them.
Inevitably the changes resulted in Bredon losing a bit of structure and the home side, who never gave up, managed to pull back a couple of tries. However, Bredon were superior in all departments. Ewan was a firecracker, and controlled the tempo from scrum half, making some incisive darts from the base and passing into space to release the backs. Possibly more impressive was his tackling, hitting low and hard to constantly snuff out Frampton’s attacks. There were several other stand out performances. Harry took virtually every scrum against the head, Denby made several scything breaks, Luke and Connor are improving every time they play, Jimmy was a force of nature in attack and defence and Henry is producing consistently good performances. To be fair everyone stuck to their task and contributed to the win, the score finished 9-2 with tries from Ben A, James, Jimmy, Connor (2), Ewan, Morgan, Josh and Luke.
After the final whistle it was time for photos in the GPH sponsored shirts and some well-earned hot dogs and confectionery.
There will be sterner tests ahead but for now the boys should enjoy their success and hopefully be looking forward to the next challenge. With the competition for places intensifying, the coaches have a difficult job every week to give everyone a game without disrupting the team and gifting the opposition an advantage. I think everyone will agree that they have managed the past two weeks amazingly well. It‘s also to the boys’ credit that no-one is moaning about being subbed off.
We finally made it back home and I am looking forward to seeing you all, frozen to the marrow, dripping wet and knee deep in Westmancote mud on a Sunday sometime soon.