Below are some articles writen by Gareth Berry, father of Lee, that have recently appeared in the match programmes. They are trips down memory lane. Enjoy!
The Sound of Music
The hills are alive with the sound of belching. It was recently announced that the last remaining member of the Trapp family singers had died, thus cosigning this portion of history beyond that of living memory and with it the truth. But this matters not as the truth is a mere inconvenience, for we all know that the film version IS the truth, a tract so bristling with facts as to make any criticism utterly beyond the pail. How else could we explain the presence of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in one technicolour dream? Well, easy really; it happened. So there.
One thing that we can be assured of is this, as we approach the yuletide bollocks, this film will be among the schedules of at least one of the TV channels (along with The Great Escape, another exercise in truth telling) And so we all look forward to witnessing Julie Andrews skipping gaily on a high hill surrounded by, not as in reality, a flock of wooly pigs, but gamboling children, singing merrily. Jeez!
This is where we come in, The Sound of Music; Rugby Club style. For those of you with longish memories, this meant Ladies Night and with it the tell-tale hand of one Mike O’Farrell, the then club Chairman. By the time that this production hit the boards, Ladies Nights were a well established staple of the social calendar, and so with tickets being in great demand it was decided that the Clubhouse was not sufficient for such a grand event. So off we did trot to The Farmers Tavern, where we had a proper stage, such was the prestige in which us thesps held ourselves. MOF had gathered all the usual suspects; Clist, West, Woodberry, Clapp and yours truly amongst others, ready to slaughter yet another fine piece of art.
As we all know one can only achieve perfection if one practices, and so we did, endlessly. Thus we found ourselves facing the final demand, before the show; the dress rehearsal. It was a Sunday morning at the Farmers Tavern, on the main stage and we busied ourselves in the honing of the ensemble. What we did not know was that on the same day, albeit in the den, the south-west area darts tournament was taking place. At first we noticed the odd bod sauntering in and parking themselves at a table but we did not give it much thought. It was only when we finished and received a rapturous applause from about 250 hairy-arsed blokes that the penny finally dropped. Our man Dicky House had well and truly kippered us. Not only that but we had to go and do it for real the next week! It was a triumph, but I have to say that I was cast against type; being forced to wear a dress and appear as Julie herself. The ignominy of it. The wife never wore the dress again, odd that.
DO YOU REMEMBER?
The opening lines go like this “I left my home in Norfolk, Virginia
California on my mind, I straddled that Greyhound and rode into Raleigh, and on across Caroline” only our man developed a penchant for deep fried hamburgers, put on about four stone discovered the hitherto uncharted delights of lurid nylon jumpsuits complete with wild 1970`s belts and rhinestones, oh and then he died. In truth his career had already hit the skids by the time he appeared on stage in Lost Wages and he only managed to become a parody of himself at some considerable effort. After he died the adoring sycophants decided to keep his spirit alive by mimicking him, and thus were born the tribute acts. Oh sweet mother of mercy, why oh why did I agree to witness one of these things? Please tell me for I must have taken leave of what little is left of my senses.
Our erstwhile hero must have mistaken Norfolk, Virginia for Norfolk in East Anglia and then headed west. Having got the country wrong he then compounded things by turning up in Burnham and a booking at the Ritz Club. Now the Ritz is a place that cannot shake off its former self however hard it tries. It is a cinema, and along with Lenard Lott`s square clock gazing down on the assembled lot, it will always struggle to be anything but.
It was here a few weeks ago that bore witness to a truly amazing event; Elvis was on stage and according to the geezer who portrayed him it was “just like being in Vegas” well if by that he meant that the place was stuffed with talentless tossers, he was bang on the money, he was atrocious. My eyes rolled over and one of my fellow sufferers mouthed to me “what the fuck are we doing here?” his face a magical picture of slack-jawed astonishment. What indeed.
As an avid people watcher I scanned the room, only to find that most of the people were enjoying the spectacle. Were they mad? Had they no taste? Where did they come from? Even, were they human? For surely no-one in their right mind would find this load of tosh, good. Sadly I was proved wrong, the place was packed and they were all clapping and singing along, although in truth most of them were better than the poor wretch on stage.
I rest my case, thank you very much. Shit, I have just woken up!
By the way the song was written by a couple of blokes you might have heard of;
Chuck Berry and Robert Plant.
Fight or Flight?
Many of you will be familiar with the concept of the above, a natural instinct that kicks in when you are in peril and works perfectly well thank you. Now the following notes are a cautionary tale that deals primarily with the latter as for the most part, fighting was out of the question due to the fact that we were far too drunk to contemplate belligerent behaviour.
Yet again I pick Leeds for this wee gad about, as fine a spot as any, given that it was here that we exercised our self-preservation rights more than somewhat , in our dim and sordid past.
It was not so much flight as fleeing the crime scene, which amounted to the same thing I seem to recall.
Our first chance to scarper came at the Polytechnical College to which we hurried after our friend Huw Powell was suffering the disasterous effects of consuming three vindaloo curries in a 24 hour period. It was bloody grim. We were, therefore, forced to listen to the band who were currently on stage, trying for their stab at stardom whilst Mr Powell was going through the motions (rapidly it must be said). The general consensus was that they were shite- turned out they were some outfit called Dire Straits. Poor decision.
On finally leaving the poly I discovered a fire hose, marvelous bit of kit that only starts pumping water when the full extent of the hose is reached. This I duly did and left the water spewing all over the pavement, kicking wildly as no-one was in charge of the errant hose as we hi-tailed it down the road, laughing like loons.
Come Saturday morning and we headed in the city centre, deciding on a pub opposite the station, which I might add is still there as I walked past it about 18 months ago, chuckling softly. When you add a few pints of Tetley’s to a fairly volatile soul like Mr A C Clapp the only thing that emerges is disaster, and so it was that his guide and (mentor at that time, Gary Paul, hauled his sorry ass out from a tight squeeze concerning ethnicity) led him to the promised land i.e. one that did not involve him receiving multiple injuries, flight indeed.
Fast forward to a bar called `The Precinct` Evening, dark and full of foreboding. Well, that`s what occurred. Dance floor like a boxing ring, situated at the rear of the gaffe. Me, dancing like a lost Jew and shouting to Mr Harris that the place was full of N********** was not a good sign. Racist shite that would only come back and bite, which it rightfully did, led to the ultimate flight from the bar , followed by some outraged individuals. Not a pretty or dignifying sight. A sharp exit indeed.
Which leads me to the final tale of woe…. Huw had a Chinese friend, who resided in a block of flats as designated by the University, this place being way over populated to such a point that the density of living was comparable with concentrations of slum living in the sixties, and with whom he had much in common. However, as is all too often the case, the capability of the Occidental to be able to identify the Oriental is sadly lacking. I, however, had a cunning plan; its simplicity alarmed even me. Hit the fire alarm and then wait outside, every soul in the place would pass by and then you could easily intervene and have a word with said person. Simple enough you would think. Only the Authorities then, as they do now, crammed so many of the buggers in that any form of orderly exit, was not going to happen. I had an advantage, namely that because Chop Harris was wearing clogs (yes I know!) I could run much faster than he, and that is all you need to be able to achieve when flight comes into the equation.
Oh and by the way, we never did find that toe rag. C`est la vie.
DO YOU REMEMBER? When the roof blew off
The facilities that you are currently enjoying are amongst the best on offer anywhere in the South-West. New changing rooms, a viewing deck and good quality pitches along with a generous bar and kitchen area, all add to the overall ambience and make the playing and spectating experience all the more agreeable. It wasn’t always so.
The original grounds were purchased in 1974 as part of an amalgamation of sports clubs. This was necessary as it was the only way to secure funding back then, hence BASC. By 1979 the fields that made up the sports ground had all been cleared, hedges grubbed out, ditches filled and the main areas drained and rolled, all by club members. By then we also had a clubhouse.
A committee member who was a local authority architect, an oxymoron if ever there was one, I know, designed the initial clubhouse. Sadly this chap has since departed this earth, well actually he retired to Cardiff but it amounts to the same thing. By the time of our inaugural match in October 1980 things were complete. We were able to benefit from an upstairs bar overlooking the pitch, with a verandah as well, great joy! Things were beginning to take off.
In the winter of 1981 they did, well the roof did.
On a stormy Friday evening our perfectly aerodynamic wing, also known as the roof, decided to part company with the walls below and do a back flip into the car park below. The verandah provided the ideal lift for the wing and, on balance, the use of 4-inch nails as a means of securing said roof wasn’t too sharp. Oh well.
DO YOU REMEMBER? HARRODS
Yes, we are talking about the upmarket store in Brompton Road, London, frequented by the rich, famous, feckless and foolhardy souls with money to burn. What, you might ask has this to do with our rugby club? Well on the second of November 1980 we played against them on one of our frequent forays to the capital.
At the time the store was still under the stewardship of a British company before it was sold to a grubby Egyptian crook who in turn flogged to another bunch of dodgy characters from Qatar in 2010. Thankfully the establishment saw sense and refused Mr. Fayed the honour of citizenship, which really got up his nose. You might be able to buy something British but that does not mean that you are entitled to BE British, so poodle off down to Fulham FC, where you can erect as many statues to dead paedophiles as you like old son, just be bloody quiet about it, there’s a good chap. Or some such.
As befits a marvelous institution Old Harrodians RFC had a wonderful club situated in Barnes SW13, at the heart lay a lovely oak lined bar area that dispensed lunch to the well-heeled supporters, complimented by a snooker and games room. Nice and idyllic as fits the gentle nature of home counties rugger at the time. Then they entertained us, bad move.
At that time we were proud owners of our own coach, an ancient charabanc that was capable of withstanding the usual shenanigans of rugby touring with one proviso, we had to have a driver. Under normal circumstances we drove it ourselves but, this being a tour, albeit a short one, we hired a driver. Oh dear. I have no idea who suggested him but let’s say that it was not the smartest move to employ Ernie Peck to perform this role. For those of you unfamiliar with Ernie it is worth mentioning that he was the Landlord of the Watchfield Inn when it was a pub, not a synthetic replica and was a tad too fond of a snifter or twelve. I recall being present when his long suffering wife made the mistake of forgetting to order the scrumpy and was forced to fend off the empty plastic containers that were being hurled at her along with masses of verbal abuse as we all looked on including Merv, the barman who had been shagging Ernie’s missus for years. Bless.
Back then West Country rugby was regarded by many to be rough and ready and practiced, in the main, by malodorous and violent psychopaths and to a certain extent we reinforced this stereotype. This was neatly summed up by one of their well-spoken supporters who, on seeing us, described us “a hairy-arsed bunch” perhaps this apt after he saw Wiley lead round the bar on our knees singing `high-ho`, but like the good citizens that we are we drank the beer and reveled in glorious notoriety. Meanwhile Ernie was having a nap and readying himself for the homeward journey, having had a few `liveners`
On our way back Ern managed to tangle the coach in the central reservation on the M4 thus bringing us to a halt. As most people know, when the bus stops, you alight for a pee only on this occasion we were in the fast lane of the motorway. Nice one Ernie.
DO YOU REMEMBER? Municipal Pitches
Long before the League system was foisted upon us many of our games were against clubs from the Bath and Bristol combination system, the idea being that the sides fed the pick of their talent into the major club of the respective city, an arrangement that worked very well indeed, barring one thing; many games were played on council owned pitches. Not a problem of its own, until you looked at the location of said pitches.
In the true nature of all English counties, sport is, was and seemingly will always be an annoying afterthought. The problem appears to be this: if we can’t make it into an allotment, we’ll call it a sportsfield, only make sure that it is accessible only by car, preferably on the top of a steep hill and where no other use is practicable. As a concession they, grudgingly, will remove the cattle 24 hours before kick off, mow that that hasn’t be grazed, paint some haphazard lines in cheap magnolia from the local DIY store to form a vague notion of a pitch and open the bunker, sorry, changing rooms.
Aah, the changing rooms, what joy. These masterpieces to an architectural amnesia perform two functions, firstly they are designed to be impregnable, doors should be capable of withstanding rocket attacks, windows should be looked upon as an option to be discouraged, lighting should be minimal or in preference; non-existent, all other facilities, such as hot water for the shower or bath should be rationed so as not to burden the taxpayer unduly for this ghastly inconvenience. Oh and the person who’s job it is to allow entry into these dungeons will be the most miserable son-of-a-bitch ever to walk the planet. Secondly, although they are ostensibly there to allow the player to change and safely store their clothes, in reality they are designed to deter all forms of enjoyment, the use of 40 watt bulbs, large puddles of waist deep slurry outside the doorway and no proper parking facilities all add to the council’s overall masterplan.
Although Bristol has a large chunk of its pitches situated not far from the Muller Road, and meets many of the local authority criteria for abject failure, the prize for sheer audacity must go to Bath. The world heritage city of Beau Brummel, sweeping regency housing built on the graceful slopes of the urban hillsides and overall upmarket splendour has something altogether more sinister tucked up its sleeve; Lansdown. This place ticks every box for absolute bloody wretchedness for the would-be demon councillor and thus surpasses their wildest dreams. A miserable barren stump, high above the city, accessed by a vertiginous twisting road, Lansdown is home to few living things. At the farthest point there is a racecourse (summer use only, but that’s a bit of a joke as the last recorded summer up there was in 1878) There are a few farmhouses, though heaven knows why they were built as the prospect of farming up there holds very little chance of success, even sheep require extra ballast to prevent them being swept to their peril, and of course, as a monument to the inventive cruelty of the town planner; the pitches. When you factor in the weather you begin to realize that this all adds up to the perfect scenario, the ultimate in discouragement. There are two types of weather here, none of them benign. Wind normally takes the form of a hurricane, breezes don’t exist and thus the air that you attempt to breathe is delivered to you at 90 mph. The other format is rain, and comes in two sub-groups, mizzle (rare) and deluge (frequent) When combined the rain comes at you horizontally and forms barbs of such intense ferocity that the resulting lacerations tear at every extremity rendering the idea of a running game null and void and your only hope is that the injuries do not last too long and that the frostbite recedes swiftly enough to allow you hold a pint in the clubhouse. All of which assumes that you manage to make it off the god-forsaken hill and back to humanity.
DO YOU REMEMBER? The Regal Club
Before we finally settled at this address, Burnham Rugby’s home was the Regal Club in Highbridge, a converted cinema situated at the junction of the A38 and Newtown Road. Before that the railway line from Burnham used to cross the A38 next to the club by means of a level crossing. This, like much of Highbridge’s past, has been demolished and has been replaced by an insipidly bland block of flats, although a blue plaque adorns the wall to acknowledge that the cinema/club did exist.
From the early 1970’s this became our spiritual home and it offered us one massive advantage; a place to have a drink after the game, long before the pubs were open, and thus as far as we were concerned, this was the centre of the universe. In the days of restricted licensing hours the pubs shut at 2.30pm and opened again at 6pm, so anywhere that opened its doors for us at 4pm was bloody marvelous. (Just to show how far Highbridge has declined, in its heyday it boasted 12 pubs now only 4 remain)
Being a converted cinema gave it two things. Firstly it was dark, darker even than the furthest recesses of Pete Gaylard’s warped mind. This served a dual purpose; it lured you in, and once your eyes had adjusted to peering through the gloom, it led you forward into the innermost bowels of the place and it also prevented you from close examination of the beer, which was generally awful. Secondly it had a sloping floor, this had the effect of catching visiting teams unaware, exaggerating drunken meanderings and making trips to the toilet positively hazardous.
Once you were in you were greeted by Fraulein Jean, a formidable German lady who called everyone `My Dahlink`, until you got banned of course which was not an infrequent occurrence, then relations turned decidedly icy. The ban lasted until the following Saturday although my particular exile lasted considerably longer, but that’s another story altogether. In addition Jean had a husband, John, whose name was also above the door, but should have been in much smaller lettering as his role was not, shall we say, pivotal. Faced with the fearsome creature that was his wife, John did the best thing and kept his mouth firmly shut!
Now we come to the fish tank. At the far end of the club, perched on a stand sat a tropical fish tank that beckoned to you and invited closer inspection. Now consider this; a dark environment, neon lights, rugby players seeking to slake their thirsts, colourful swimmy things and a landlady’s pride and joy, mmmm great combination, I wonder what will happen? Oh yes. The first to try his luck was Gilly. Hick’s Of The Yard had seen a recent stunt on the telly involving the substitution of an orange thing with fins with a carrot. The hand goes into the tank, swiftly removed after a frantic rummage and hey presto! Into the mouth goes the carrot. Triumph. Not according to Jean who took a decidedly dim view of events and banned Gilly in spite of his protestations of innocence and a distinct lack of evidence as to the enforced consumption of the denizens of the tank. This was, however, the precursor to the main event. Enter, stage left, Frome RFC. This bunch of fine upstanding gentlemen did eat the contents of the tank, thus taking sushi to hitherto unknown extremes. The net result was like witnessing a strike from the bad old days of British industrial relations; one out, all out! And so we left with the Hitler Youth distinctly unimpressed.
The club also had the merit of introducing many of the younger members of the club ie. Us, to the vast repertoire of songs from Mike O`Farrell, our then chairman. Listening to the words of `Australia` and `The King and Queen of the Goddamn Islands` for the first time was fabulous and served us well for many a drunken chortle. Thank You Michael.
DO YOU REMEMBER? Spin the Gilly?
We’re nothing if not inventive here at Burnham, give us a crisis and we’ll create amateur dramatics out of it…………
In the aftermath of the flying roof fiasco, we had the messy task of clearing the rubble and demolishing the only wall left standing. Cue Roger West and his trusty Massey Ferguson (Roger’s the wizened old git at the end of the bar with the face like the Rock Of Ages, back then he was the Rock Of Ages) along with a band of wet and willing volunteers. Over a few weekends the job got done under Roger’s supervision. But.
Thirsty work all this clearing up. One problem, the now single storey clubhouse resembled a giant shower and as we all know it is pretty dodgy turning on the electrics under such circumstances, but power is essential to dispensing beer. We reached a compromise, put a brolly over the circuit board and give us enough time to serve a few pints, and then turn it off again. Sorted.
Now what? Standing around inside wearing wellies and sporting brollies and waving torches seems like a perfect signal to play games, and so it was. Take one wet table and assemble various miscreants and footpads around it in a circle. Take Gilly and place him on said table, face down and resembling a weather vane. Take Alan Clapp (please do!) and get him to grab Gilly’s feet and run around the table, when he stops opposite some poor soul he was required to sing a song of everyone else’s choosing. As we know all games have rules; there was only one- “mask the spinner” achieved by getting Clappy to wear a parka coat backwards with the hood providing the mask. And so Gilly span. Happy days.
DO YOU REMEMBER? The 1970’s
In keeping with the romp down memory lane I thought it was fitting to look back at the decade that virtually all observers view as the one soonest forgotten. I, however, firmly disagree, though not as much as Archie Clark, the man with the red hot mullet. A little known fact this; Archie was born in 1978 at the age of 26 and came fully equipped with chat-up lines, haircut and dance routine, attributes that he continues to use to this very day (see Don Bowerman for evidence, simply the best!!!) it was only towards the end of the decade that we finally had a home to call our own, up to that point ‘of no fixed abode’ described our status most aptly.
Being homeless did not mean that we were at a loss for a place to play and at the time that I started playing we were at the BAY club, a council owned gaffe with a small, but flat pitch and the use of changing rooms that were never opened early and provided barely adequate showers. This meant that meeting up beforehand required all and sundry to congregate in front of the changing rooms whilst the respective captains went through the weekly ritual of panicking over team numbers, whilst we generally ate lunch from the chippy, smoked, belched, farted, fought, were either sick or taking a piss against the rifle club wall or were at the pub having a hair off the dog and trying to figure out who we went home with on Friday night. If we were present and relatively sober we would have bets as to whether Gilly’s wife would either speak to him, return his kiss or not, when she delivered him by car. Mostly it was not. As for the captain’s dilemma, couldn’t have given a toss. Good to have constants in life is it not.
It being the decade of the disco, most Saturday nights were spent heading for one of the local hot-spots (and that really is stretching the bounds of reality) whilst always endeavouring to avoid Burnham’s finest; Bart’s, more of which in a later installment. Weston offered Hobbits, Mr. B’s which you went to after the Bierkeller, Captain’s Cabin and every other pub on the seafront, Bridgwater gave us Carnaby’s (yet another story) and Taunton yielded Camelot and the 88/400 club. How did we get there? Bloody drove of course, how else. But we never did drink and drive, spilling beer into your lap is messy and embarrassing, how on earth are you going to pull with a wet patch?
As was often the case we never made it to any of these dimly lit dens of gloriously ill repute and on those occasions we dashed up the A38, hung a left at Weare and then left again and generally scurried towards the Webbington Country Club, sounds good does it not? Well no it wasn’t, country club my arse, this place was full of busloads of taffs and Bristol ne’er-do-wells and just about every dodgy car dealer within a 50 mile radius, all hosted by a spiv by the name of Alan Wells. But the cabaret was second to none and if you were lucky enough to make to the residents lounge, you were there all night. Result. By the way the reference to the ‘left again’ fragment is for John Clist who forgot this bit one night and ploughed straight through some poor souls wall in his campervan.
DO YOU REMEMBER? The George Hotel
It would be wrong of me to carry out any form of potted history of the (mostly) social activities of this club’s past without mention of the George in Highbridge; in any event the place is still open, which is more than can be said of The White Hart- now a block of soulless flats, the Top House-ditto and of course the gateway to the fine town, The Highbridge Hotel, which has now received the added dressing of an 8` high hoarding to disguise the fire ravaged hulk. Message to the council and the developer (developing what exactly?) the problem is not the bottom eight feet, it’s the top forty that creates the eyesore, you dullards, knock it down.
At least we were able to witness the place just before the rot that now pervades Highbridge was able to take hold through the mindless actions of the planners. When we used to use the Regal Club and required a change of scenery, either because of the less than stunning beer that ‘my dahlink’ was apt to dispense, or we could no longer see any discernable shapes in the gloom, the next port of call was always the George. In the 70`s it was run by a gentleman by the name of Dennis Bagshaw who had the nous to recognize that most men who played darts, skittles and rugby also drank galleons of beer and, therefore, should form a considerable part of his ongoing business plan, and on some Saturday nights even a game of euchre displayed remarkable similarities. And so it was that Dennis, safe in the knowledge that his till would be ringing, welcomed a bunch of half-pissed rugby players. In return he allowed us free rein of the pub and in the event that we stayed all night, served beer in watering cans to both speed things up and save on glass breakages. Smart fellah.
On other occasions it was used as a staging post for foreign adventures to all points of the compass, on one instance we decided to leave the George and call at every pub on the left hand side on a journey to Bristol for a night at the Town’s Talk, it took us four and a half hours and we got refused entry for being too drunk, so we decided to go to the Webbington instead, where no such problem would be encountered.
Perhaps the finest night was when we sent out a search party to look for Gilly. Gilly, at that time was married to a ranting welsh bint with no sense of humour and when the phone call came in inquiring of his whereabouts, she was informed that he had left 30 minutes earlier, which was true, but he had not appeared at home. Our man’s mode of transport was a moped, not the wisest of vehicles to be in charge of after a shandy or twelve but hey. So a bunch of us left to find the errant husband. We didn’t go far; in fact we never left the car park. Gilly was found still sat on the moped, engine running, fast asleep but lying on its side. It appears that he suffered a bad attack of gravity.
DO YOU REMEMBER? The Long Hot Summer
Meteorologists, climatologists and just about every other ‘ologist you care to throw a stick at have been banging on that the past 10 odd years have been the hottest on record. Horseshit. Go tell the poor sod whose house has just been flooded for the fourth time in a decade during the summer months and was subject to six feet of snow for weeks on end in a mild winter. As any self-respecting adult knows there are two ways to judge a year; the severity of the winter and the number of blisteringly hot summer days. No other measure cuts it. Period. Which brings us neatly to 1976. For anyone over the age of fifty this was THE summer.We can safely ignore such unpleasant things as rampant inflation, hard to come by mortgages (no change there then) bolshy unions, the worst drought in over 500 years and the plague of ladybirds and concentrate on the real issues; 16 weeks of unbroken sunshine, temperatures well over 100 degrees F (there’s no point in saying that temperatures are measured in the shade because we weren’t in the bloody shade) and factories kicked out at 2pm because it was too hot. This was the year when we could enjoy a night out for a fiver (with change) nobody gave a fig about computers and telephones came courtesy of the GPO in about 5 colours, 1 design and were always in the hall so that the whole house could hear you shouting because the line was shite. The whole place was like a desert, even the grass died and Brent Knoll came to resemble a rather brown nipple, Marine Drive didn’t exist- it was still the sorry remains of the railway line, but it served a very good purpose; it was straight and ran from Highbridge to Burnham therefore affording a good route home from one or the other, avoiding peoples front gardens, a nasty hazard, so instead of falling over gnomes you went headlong into a blackberry bush. Mmm. Oh, and the town enjoyed the service of two coach companies, Wems and Herrings, both crap, whose nod to the modern was to use radial tyres, diesel engines and syncromesh gearboxes and sod customer comforts and thus neither exist today.We also had other facilities, such as butchery shops (4) bakers (4) shoe shops (5) grocers (4) 2 Post Offices, at least 3 sweet shops 2 bike shops, 2 jewellers (proper ones), 5 garages a trading company and about 4 newsagents, as for supermarkets, well we made do with Lipton’s, the Co-op and International Stores, bugger all else existed. We even had a record shop, connected to a sports shop, although the owner, Mr. Jotcham was a miserable toad, even in the sunshine! Today we have Gregg’s, the pasty heating company for fat fuckers and charity shops. Progress indeed.By the time that Dennis Howell was appointed the Minister for Drought it was close to September when the heavens finally opened thus making the hapless twerp into the Minister for Floods, just in time for the rugby season. Joy!
DO YOU REMEMBER? TRAINING
Oh please wash my mouth out, and then throw me to the lions. What utter filth I speak, such obscenity, how can I possibly make amends for abusing the club and it’s rich history by mentioning something so foul and degrading, a subject that epitomizes the meaning of taboo, something so inviolable as to render the wretched culprit liable to a lingering, agonizing death by a million cuts with paper…Training, say it again, Training, and then shiver, shaken to your very foundations by such an absurd concept. Yuck!
Hell’s teeth! I nearly started sweating….
You might have gathered that the whole notion of training, oh sweet mother of mercy I’m palpitating and beginning to gibber like a cross between Stanley Unwin and Stephen Hawking, is a nightmare for players of a certain age and disposition, that is to say anyone over thirty five. In times past training used to fall into two very distinct categories; pre-season and in-season. Pre-season was clearly defined a total lack of attendance by anyone other than the Captain, Vice-Captain, Chairman of Selectors and some poor sod who was forced by his wife to take the dog for a piss in the rain. This was regarded as a positive result, allowing the powers that be, to quiz the hapless dog-walker as to the capabilities of the players (so that’s why we were shite then) In-season training was, and still is, a theoretical concept, never ruined by reality, other than in the warped mind of Graham ‘sand-ramp’ Watts. IT DID NOT HAPPEN.
For the most part, the idea of a warm up, as applies to the modern game, is unutterably alien, an abstraction created by perverts, a heinous corruption of a right-thinking mind and thus should be banished from sensible thought. Gentlemen, the warm-up is conducted thus; gather at a pre-determined point so as to ascertain numbers of bipeds fit to play. Such a point should always be within spitting distance of a licensed hostelry. Then, having discovered that there are only twelve souls fit for purpose, you sally forth to all known legal dens of iniquity to bolster the ranks. It must be said that to enter a licensed establishment and not to partake, is, in English society, a foul calumny, and cannot be tolerated. Partaking should be conducted as close to the fire as possible: hence warming up!
Warming down is an oxymoron designed by sadists to suit their perversities, as any sane man knows that during the playing season the only thing possible is keeping warm! So that’s a load of bollocks. Season’s greetings.
The Rugby Club Balance of Power
Leaps tall buildings with a single bound. More vocal than a scrum half. Faster than a speeding bullet. Walks on water. Gives policy to God
Leaps short buildings with a single bound, more vocal than a mother-in-law, nearly as fast as a shunting engine. Walks on water (if sea is flat calm) Talks to God
Leaps short buildings with a running start and a following wind. Very vociferous (as a supporter) Walks on water in a swimming pool. Answers yes to God
Barely clears a nissen hut. Loses shouting match to vice chairman. Can swim well. Thinks he is honourable Japanese warrior. Is occasionally addressed by God
2ND XV CAPTAIN
Achieves high marks when trying to leap the fence. Can hold a conversation-if given help. Can doggy paddle. Talks to animals
3RD XV CAPTAIN
Runs into tall buildings. Occasionally talks sense. Can stay afloat if properly instructed in the use of a life jacket. It’s like talking to a brick wall
Falls over doorsteps while trying to enter buildings. Is capable of reciting the alphabet. Plays in muddy puddles. Sleeps with the light on and mumbles incoherently.
CHAIRMAN OF SELECTORS
Lifts tall buildings and walks under them.
Is stone deaf to advice (especially from props) Freezes water with a single glance
HE IS GOD