Let’s start with team news. The injury count at the end of the last week’s games was impressive. Especially for what is, in essence, a non-contact version of the game. You could hear limbs being dragged down the Elm Street corridors. Winces and groans as bruised players gingerly took their places at their desks on the morning after the night before. But their groans were completely drowned out by those from every other member of staff who had to endure For The Love Of Greggs’ bragging rights over his (unexpected) try score the previous night. Within a 24 hour period, what was, in reality, a short run-in in acres of space had turned into a jinking run, laden with dummies and Bolt-like speed. Also impressive.
But with some consistent improvement week on week, the squad was up for more punishment. And we had a close to full strength squad. Two of our ringers – The Quicker and Wildman could not make the games. The squad consisted of: Wheezer, Whippet, Thumper, For The Love Of Greggs, Speedster, I SO Scored, Compass, Disoranno and The Rock. A formidable unit. There was one minor change to the team, but unusually it was via Deed Poll, with The Rock being re-badged as “The Squealer”. The monikers do have to be representative, you see. In fairness, The Squealer did suggest this name for herself, when she announced (quite loudly, and very clearly) on the touchline that “EVERYBODY knows me as the Squealer”. Aside from a number of burly rugby types immediately misconstruing that statement, it’s fair to say that this new nickname is likely to stick in the office.
So where were we in the table at the start of Week 3? Pride, as they say, definitely comes before a fall. You may remember us having taken a little pop at Birketts, who were propping up the near bottom of the table last week. Well that was our privilege when we turned up this week. Second from bottom. Down, but definitely not out. Until we saw that we had 3 matches against top tier opponents, as well as one against new kids on the block, Ashton KCJ. The added bonus was that we would be playing our first two matches back to back.
We managed to get through our 5 minute warm up without serious injury. Well, apart from Thumper who took a mis-aimed pass to the head from Whippet, whilst she was sitting down, minding her own business. It’s quite fitting that a member of our personal injury team managed to injure one of our own players.
It was an evening full of positives. The weather was incredible – far too hot to be running backwards on a rugby pitch, but a good foundation for the post-match drinking. In the first game, we came across a team that had beaten us handsomely on every occasion – by double digit scores on each occasion. Our defence was much improved, with a straighter line and a drift formation evolving. Essentially spoiling tactics. Wheezer had suggested that we conserve energy for the second game against Ashtons, but with the defence smothering our opponents’ attacks convincingly, we think that the number of tries conceded was more than halved – only losing by 4 tries. Against a very youthful, pacey and proficient team, that was no mean feat.
Sadly, For The Love Of Greggs suffered a painful groin strain (more groans for work colleagues today…) early into the second game, and after a hop, skip and a jump, retired hurt. There were rumours that he might have overdone it on the Cross Trainer that his wife had bought for him recently. Or that he’d strained himself deadlifting a half-pounder from Maccy D’s. But FTLOG was one our top (aka only) try scorers, so what do you do? It was at this point that genius shone through. Thumper commandeered our newest recruit, Chris “Call Me Fletch” Fletcher. A mad scientist by day (he teaches Physics) but an impressive rugby player to boot – currently playing for Woodbridge RFC. And what did he bring to the Gotelee table?
• He can run. Fast. And not just in a straight line
• He doesn’t trip over his own feet, or injure himself, like Wheezer does.
• Positivity and encouragement to his team mates; but most of all
• Knowledge and direction.
Call Me Fletch (tagged “Beefcake” by The Squealer) was giving the team a running commentary, flagging opponents to mark, teaching us to drift defend and calling out opportunities for us to pass or offload or to just take the ball into contact to make some yards and get the next phase underway. And like rugby lemmings, we followed his commands. And you know what? We looked pretty good. And it showed in our play. Speedster scored again. Call Me Fletch bagged a handful, too. The game against Ashton KFC was a close run thing. They had 2 players who clearly had some experience with the oblong ball, but in the end, we were pipped 3-1. The next game was again close, despite the fact that we were again playing a far more experienced side, filled with regular rugby players. We drew the last game, 1-1. The flow of tries against us was well and truly stemmed. And there were clearly promising signs on the attacking side of the game, too.
With greater numbers in the squad, there was more opportunity to cycle players and sub, to keep the legs a bit more fresh. And so our injury count was far, far lower. It made for a very enjoyable evening.
And so we rounded the night out having a beer and a good laugh with our newest team mate. Before then forcing him to enter into a legally binding contract to play for us next week. Oh – and like our Facebook page. I’m pretty sure we made him sign up for the Employment Law newsletters too. Maybe a Gotelee sandwich board up and down Elm Street next week….?