So, in the blink of an eye, we arrive at our final league game of the 2015/2016 season, and welcome our old Buckinghamshire friends, High Wycombe, to the Braywick Bowl. After coming into the league as champions of the division below, it is testament to the team, that survival is virtually guaranteed, and will be sealed, if they can secure just 1 point tomorrow. If they don’t, then Reading still need to beat Salisbury, and score 4 tries, which the form book suggests is unlikely.
It was the opening day of the season since these 2 sides last met, when Maids ground out a tough 22-17 victory, after going 17-0 down, in the first half. The two teams look much changed since that fixture, and the inclusion of Craig Murray (number 8) and James Mawby (tighthead) in the Wycs side, pose a real threat to the home team’s usual Braywick dominance. They do, however, come into the game, off the back of a humbling 71-0 thrashing to Towcestrians, whilst Maids will be buoyed by their 30-0 shut-out of Trowbridge a week ago.
There’s no player interview this week, instead, we take the opportunity to reflect upon our season, and offer some thanks…
Firstly, to our terrific supporters, who, whether we win or lose, still turn up to support us, shout at the top of their voices, and provide us with an enviable 16th man, which has never been more evidenced than the home wins v Towcestrians and Windsor. I would like to pay particular homage to club legend Allan Greene, who can regularly be found loitering by the 1st team changing room, with a bottle of port, hugging every member of the team after a good win. He has also been instrumental in organising ‘Old Boy Reunions’ at the club, for certain games, and the post-match atmosphere in the clubhouse feels very much like ‘a proper rugby club’.
Our physio team, steered by Sharlene Bertie, regularly go the extra mile, to help ensure we are as fit as possible every game. Sharlene in particular, often takes time out of her working day, to provide injury and rehab advice, sometimes even visiting players at their homes. Genuinely, had it not been for this fantastic group of professionals, many of the boys would have not played nearly as much.
To our coaching team, led by Russell Bolton, and ably supported by Batesy, Mike, Brad, Gareth and Rob- it is thanks to your efforts to be so innovative and forward thinking, that training is so well attended. It’s evident from visiting other clubs, that many struggle to have training more than once a week, and even then, numbers are staggeringly low. We are incredibly fortunate, that you all do your best to give players a voice, and make training as relevant and enjoyable as it can be. There is also no doubt, that you love the club as much as we do, and your passion for the badge, helps drive us as players.
All the volunteers at the club, who do so much behind the scenes, that rarely get a mention- kit man Colin Lewis, DoR, Tony Brooks, the Committee, David Perry, the fantastic kitchen staff and Dom Birch, plus many others, thank you for all of your hard work, the boys very much appreciate everything.
Finally, the players. Newbies, such as Christoph Bart, Matt Burke, Matthieu Abiven, Tom Finnie, Nic Jones, Jaryd Robinson, as well as ‘returnees’ Perry Jansen, Ryan Long and Paul Britton- you have all settled in seamlessly, and your efforts on and off the pitch, have been a huge part of this squad moving forward. A special mention to Mark Childerhouse and James Emmanuel, who, barring a freak injury, will both play their 26th league game of the season- a 100% record, and a very special achievement.
I feel the spirit in this team is very unique, and we are on the verge of some real success, and good years ahead of us. This group of players have so much potential, and they care and fight for each other, like no team I’ve seen before. I’m both proud of how far we have come as a group, and excited about where we are going. As always, it’s a huge buzz every time I lead the team out at Braywick, and I can’t wait to do it tomorrow, and hopefully lead the boys to a great win.
A sincere thanks to all, for a great season
Ben Willetts continues at tight head, despite being charged for battering his Mum, over her purchasing of the incorrect hairspray (“volume and lift Theresa, volume and lift”), whilst Chris Gill has removed himself from 1st team selection, after ‘inappropriate advances’ from PPD on the coach last week. Chris Holden is still banned from the clubhouse, for the continuous Chinese-shop prank phone calls to Bar Manager, Dom Birch.
1/ Parrott (c), 2/ Jones, 3/ Willetts, 4/ Emmanuel, 5/ Churchyard, 6/ White, 7/ Cadden, 8/ Long, 9/ Childerhouse, 10/ Jansen, 11/ Finnie, 12/ Heron, 13/ Bart, 14/ Day, 15/ Abiven, 16/ Rawlings, 17/ Gallina, 18/ O’Keeffe
1/ Hooker, 2/ Manning, 3/ Mawby, 4/ HawkenFr, 5/ Harlow, 6/ Burnham, 7/ Philpot, 8/ Murray, 9/ Thornton, 10/ Baker, 11/ Davenport, 12/ Fennell-Wells, 13/ Bagley, 14/ Lofthouse-Smith, 15/ Eaton, 16/ Wyse, 17/ Mitchell, 18/ Fradgley
Come on you Maids!