Complex Numbers

I don’t know if you watched the match at Kingsholm last night – thanks to BT I wasted a couple of hours in the company of Gloucester v The Tigers. It was a game that could have rivalled the Globe as a production of ‘A Comedy of Errors’ and I would have had more fun if I’d turned over for a re-run of ‘Are you being served’ (no – not really but it would have been a marginal call)

In fact it is calls that I want to talk about today and to offer a belated apology to all the Askean forwards who I disparaged at the time for their abilities in the lineout. Also for the continued disparagement in these pages over the last few months.

Before the match kicked off the programme ran a sort of tutorial on the lineout and how the calls are made. It was run by Ben Kay and Martin Bayfield who know a lot more about forward play than I do – although to be fair my cat would also qualify for that particular accolade.

According to Ben (Kay not Bob obviously – although if you haven’t read the bit on nicknames you will be seriously confused – so just ignore that) – anyway he said that there are 8 calls made for each lineout – 6 of these are drop outs (I think that’s what he said – I was already befuddled by this stage). The other two are the planned options with the decision made after the other team have lined up and the bloke who is calling the line turns up. With me so far? I’m not surprised my head was spinning too at this stage and I had the benefit of a visual guide and a bunch of guys moving back and forward under Ben’s direction.

It then gets even more complex as one of the other 6 calls can be made if, apparently, the opportunity presents itself in the heat of the moment. Like what? One of the opposition forwards having a heart attack? The ref is looking the other way? Don’t ask me – Ben, for all his articulate descriptions didn’t specify exactly how or why the switch to any of these would be made.

Whilst I was even more confused than I had been before this expert advice I have to say my admiration for the forwards went up immensely – mind you that doesn’t raise it all that far.

I have no idea if blokes like Lunny, Rupert, Peety, Doggy, Jimmy, Chas, Kieran, Les, Black Alex, the Kevs (Acott and Burnett), Graham Evans et al had anywhere near this level of complicated plans for the lineout – I suspect not, but it does underline that it is potentially more a science than the lottery that I always thought it was. I don’t mean that you need Brian Cox playing up front but having some basic education in counting into double figures and a knowledge of colours is bound to be helpful I imagine. This would obviously have been a challenge for some props – especially anywhere west of Reading.

I’m guessing we actually only had one call each time – and to be fair, although I often overheard the forwards deciding what the match day system would be in the changing room I never really understood how it worked – mind you since I always did my best to keep away from the rough stuff that they, for some perverse reason, seemed to enjoy, I had no real interest in knowing about it anyway.

When I first started I often played on the wing – at school and in my first season at the club – at that time it was numbers 14 and 11 who chucked the ball back into play – I can’t be sure (it was nearly 50 years ago) but I don’t remember anyone giving me a system of organised methods for determining who I should try and toss it in the general direction of. Mind you I have a job remembering what I had for breakfast these days so there might well have been a level of organisation albeit primitive (which was very much like our forwards)

 It may have simply been that someone’s name was shouted out and we assumed (hoped) that our opponents didn’t know who that was – although I suppose that ‘Black Alex’ would have been a bit of a giveaway.

Even that wouldn’t have been much use since as a newcomer to the club I didn’t know (or want to know) many of the ugly blokes in low numbered shirts – and in the EX A the team changed almost every week anyway so it would have been hard to keep up (something else I have always struggled with)

I suspect that we simply worked on the basis that the bloke who wanted it just held his hand up – this would have been a pretty good wheeze since it was very unlikely that I could lob it anywhere near the vicinity of this chap. So – whilst he was being assaulted by the opposition who expected him to get the ball it actually landed in some other poor sods grasp and off we went!

So – to all those forwards I played with over the years – my sincere apologies – but trust me – that doesn’t let you off all the times you dragged me into a ruck just as I was trying desperately to fuck off out of the way!

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The Big Test

The big game this weekend won’t be at Twickenham or Cardiff (sorry if you’ve got tickets guys)

Askeans take on Lordswood (away) in a top of the table clash. It was meant to be a pre-match lunch at home but they are celebrating their plastic jubilee or finally getting rid of moles or something and so we kindly agreed to play at their place (wherever the fuck that is).

Let’s hope that we give them a stuffing (and it isn’t some Paxo left over from Thanksgiving) in order to remain as top dogs come Saturday night.

If you’re going give them a cheer from us old farts!

The next pre-match lunch is on January 18th against Orpington (unless they decide to have an anniversary to celebrate seceding from the local scout group). I’ve already made plans to attend – so you might want to opt for the January sales.

I’m sure Lunny and Boney will be sending round details.

Go Askeans!

Another Archive Special

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Another Archive Special

This is the programme from 1952 for a game to celebrate the opening of the War Memorial Stand at Kidbrooke..
It features some great players, many of whom I knew from my time at the club – Dick, Wilf, Sid Green (Dick’s writing partner), Chas, Alan Johnson, Steve Collins, Malcolm Keen, John Ratcliffe, John Morgan, Eddie Bing and Eric Wilcox. Not least George Martin – who was an amazing team secretary from 1961 until long after I stopped playing. I never played with George but was lucky enough to run out with his son Kim on many occasions.
I did get to play with some of the others in the 60s and 70s – Dick (and later his son Paul), Sid, Steve and of course Chas!

The (almost) Unbeatables

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The (almost) Unbeatables

Forget the All Blacks in 2013 – back in 1947/8 the Askean 1st XV won 21 out 0f 22 games – losing only their second to last game against Southend by 8 – 6 (at least it wasn’t Sidcup!)
The team was captained by Tub and also featured Dick Hills, Wilf, Denis Bangs, Eddie Bing and John Morgan.
Dick was at Cambridge at the time and I don’t know if he got a blue or not (as in Varsity not a role (roll) in an adult movie)

Foreign Exchange

If you look at the teams in any of the international sides and the big clubs it is apparent that a high proportion of the players don’t come from ‘round the corner’ (or any of Chunky and Graham’s other establishments for that matter!)

It is a tribute to the commentators that they manage to pronounce half the names – in particular those with as many as four vowels next to each other. There are several in the Wallaby team whose names have actually about three times as many vowels as consonants in them! Remembering these names does, however, come in pretty handy in a game of scrabble if you’re stuck with a tray full of bloody low numbers.

It was inevitable with the advancement of professionalism and the availability of budgets from TV and sponsorship (but still largely from philanthropic millionaires) that the mobility of players would vastly increase (as in getting on Virgin planes not racing around the park – although that has also been true).

Add in the residency qualification and it is not unusual for these oddly spelt names to turn up in the various 6 nations teams with accents that don’t appear to hail from the Valleys, Highlands or Berkshire.

For example, Wales have Toby Faletau and the French feature the wonderfully named Fulgence Ouedraogo who I’m pretty sure wasn’t born anywhere near the Eiffel Tower.

I really don’t have a problem with it – although I wish Israel Folau and Ma’a Nonu had been persuaded to move to the Home Counties a few years ago – SBW too – and his name wouldn’t have looked so weird on the England team sheet (except for the Sonny bit obviously)

It’s the reality of the modern game – but it bears little resemblance to the make-up of the teams that we had down at Kidbrooke.

We did of course have a few foreigners in the sides – I mean Ronnie Bainbridge and Dick Fowler came from Yorkshire for fucks sake! The Hawtrees (Bob and Mike) were also from some place north of Watford. It was where they learned to speak cloggy I imagine and they told me that they spent most of their time digging for coal and drinking beer (often at the same time) – to be honest  I’m not sure if they were joking or not, as it was hard to tell what on earth they were saying most of the time!

Then there was Gordon McGowan – who had been playing somewhere near Manchester but who I always felt sounded a bit like a sweaty (as in sweaty sox for those who weren’t born near Bow).

Stuart McKinney was from Ireland (obviously since he’d played for the Emerald Isle and had been an Irish Lion) – I was always a bit suspicious of some of the blokes from St Mary’s and St Jo’s too – who looked just a little bit too pleased when Mike Gibson or Keith Wood scored at Twickenham. These included Paddy (that was bit of a clue I suppose), Kieran, Tom, John Gallagher and the Tays – I always gave them the benefit of the doubt since they all had accents almost as awful as my own!

We did for some obscure reason allow Chris B (Wales) and Lee (mad Aussie) to play for us – and like the others I was always grateful when they scored or better still tackled my opposite number for me.

Jimmy brought along a bloke called John (Anderson I think) who arrived from the States and turned out to be pretty capable back – he had mastered a particularly useful long throw from his college football days and this was especially effective whenever he occasionally remembered that it was supposed to go backwards. Unfortunately this was not always the case and he used to get terribly upset whenever the ref called him back for a 40 yard forward pass! He was equally confused as to why we hadn’t charged up the field to try and catch it as it sailed over the try line.

Eventually we got him to throw in at the lineout and this was a good use of his talent – catching out the opposition forwards as it flew across the field to land neatly in the arms of our winger on the other side of the field. I promise you I am not making this up – well not all of it – his lineout throw did become a planned move!

We did indeed recruit some very capable mercenaries to our ranks – primarily from the land of the long white cloud (and I’m not referring to Wyoming or the Apaches).

Our Kiwi mates included Roy Narby, Hayden Corless, the Coopers and Chevals, Ron Williams and a few others – sadly none of them had the exotic names (or a ridiculous proliferation of ‘a’s, ‘u’s and ‘i’s) originating from any of the Pacific Islands. This is a shame as it would have scared the crap out of the opposition when they saw them listed in the programme.

I don’t recall us having any South Africans – rejected I imagine as we didn’t want anyone who had a worse accent than the rest of us. For the same reason we avoided players from Birmingham.

I’m sure there are a few others I haven’t remembered – and I apologise if I’ve failed to mention that you were (and possibly still are – a ‘Johnny Foreigner’ – which incidentally would also have looked pretty good on a team sheet).

Askeans did very well in my time and although we were lucky to be bolstered (‘ooh matron’) by these very welcome immigrants to Kidbrooke mostly the team all hailed from South East London (where in fact it does hail quite a lot!)

‘The Cortisone Kid!’

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'The Cortisone Kid!'

Found this great photo in Nic’s archives – not sure of the year but it includes the brilliant Ken ‘Cortisone kid’ Walker who kept the 1st team going for many a season repairing injuries (mostly during the game)
He’s the one in the front row with the syringe and scalpel (not really obviously). He’s third from the left in the front row. Those kneeling at the far right are Phil Betts (Vic’s brother) and that incomparable ref (in later years) Alan Johnson

Big Game Weekend

 Latest note from Brom re Askeans continued progress this season!

From: Mark Bromage [ma
Sent: 25 November 2013 16:43
To: David Shute; Ian.Alexander@; frankbrigg; mharris526@ho; ‘Marc Fisher’; Nick_Lockyer@JLT; seanmcmanus@uw
Cc: ‘Paul Taylor’; paul.owens21@ntlw; Paul Owens (Paul); Hugh Robson (hug); ‘Patrick Norton’ (patrick)
Subject: Can Askeans Be Number One at Christmas?

 

Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way:

Oh! What fun it is to see Askeans win away!

 

The A’s are still heading the league as we approach the festive season, after a 17-7 victory away to Whitstable put us on 35 points, but both Lordswood (32 points)) and New Ash Green (28 points) kept up the pressure with bonus point victories, making this Saturday’s match away at Lordswood a genuine top of the table clash.

The tension mounts…….

Brom

Bigger hits than for Baa Baas at Twickenham this weekend? Unless Erika Roe turns up again anyway!