And….breathe. The boys have done it. South West 1 Champions, with a game to spare, after recording their 7th consecutive bonus point victory. The 38-19 victory over a stubborn Reading Abbey 2 weeks ago, ensures Maidenhead go into their final fixture against Royal Wootton Bassett with an unassailable 8-point lead over 2nd placed Newbury Blues. Before the boys can really celebrate this outstanding achievement, there are 80 minutes of rugby left, and a home record to preserve.
Bassett will come into this game with no fear, and no pressure, having guaranteed their safety in this division for another season. It’s been an impressive start to life in SW1 for Alan Low’s side, which has seen them record admirable victories at Old Pats and Newbury, after losing by the finest of margins to Maidenhead in the first game of this season, in tsunami-like conditions. They will be on the hunt for revenge for that opening day kick in the teeth, and Maids know that it’s going to be a hell of a battle.
Low’s side are led by imposing 2nd row Dave Hogg, who is also responsible for kicking goals for the away side, and is partnered in the row by Sam Robinson. Young Joshua Daley-Bowden will be hoping to continue his try-scoring form, whilst Tim Gallimore will be tasked with shoring up the Bassett defence in midfield.
There’s no player interview this week, instead, we take the time to thank all of the people behind the scenes, who don’t always get the credit they deserve;
-Sharlene and “Mandingo, the Black Mamba” (Ali) and their team of physios, who do such a great job of getting the boys strapped up, rubbed, and back on the pitch as quickly as possible. In sometimes testing circumstances, with endless sexual innuendo, graphic portrayals of activities in Pig Dick’s shed and numerous requests (which are sometimes granted) for ‘extras’, they carry on, with a smile on their face, often not even charging for the sleepover treatment regularly needed for player rehab.
-Big Dommy Birch aka “Chuckles”, and his team of Ellie, Wozza and various other good looking ladies that are carefully selected for their roles in the clubhouse, and behind the bar. Dom, in particular, puts in countless hours at the club, and will often go way beyond his remit, in order to ensure that the club is in it’s strongest ever position commercially. It is a huge testament to him that the bar is buzzing, with some legendary parties, delicious food and good-looking pole dancers on a Thursday night.
-our tremendous fans, who follow us home and away. Some home matches this year have had 500+ people attending, which gives the players a huge lift, and makes playing at Braywick both enjoyable for us, and intimidating for our opposition. Travelling to away matches, to see our support outnumbering that of the home team shows what great support we are lucky enough to enjoy, and we, as players, are truly thankful.
-injured players, such as Jon Heron, Jack Hill, Jaryd Robinson and Alex Cannon, have had to watch much of the season from the side-lines. In what must have been extremely frustrating for them at times, they have often been found lurking on the back of the player bus after 10am beers at breakfast. It’s a testament to these lads, and the tight-knit nature of the squad, that they often follow the boys home and away, to cheer them on.
-whilst the players, quite rightly, receive plaudits for the great brand of rugby they play, the coaches often go under the radar, and I’d like to give them a special mention;
The adage ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, certainly doesn’t apply to forwards coach Mark Bates, who is constantly striving to learn, adapt and improve. He is a selfless man, who dedicates hours of time to the club, to the team, and encourages an environment, for the forwards in particular, in which we are a democracy and have fun. His passion for this club is unrivalled, and rubs off on the lads. We sincerely hope he secures the holy trio of a tit-w**k, pale ale and a tear-up as a just reward for winning the league.
Gareth Andrews-Jones (Meeeester Gaweth) helps behind the scenes, to ensure our kit is correct, helps set up the changing rooms, coaches, and generally does anything he can to help us all. He even adopted young Fwankie, and occasionally lets him sleep in his bed.
Coaches Ty and Steve have done an awesome job with our outstanding 2nd XV, and a 2nd placed finish in their league, to end above Bracknell and Amersham (both Nat 3 clubs) is huge testament to their hard work.
Rob Churchouse, our S+C/fitness coach, works tirelessly to keep training ‘fresh’, will do one to one work with injured players, and ensures we warm up/cool-down correctly, to prevent injuries. A tough job, but one in which he does unflinchingly, with a great sense of humour.
Will Greenwood has come in, and pushed the boys harder than they’ve ever been pushed. Intensity, work ethic, unrelenting high standards are all key traits he’s brought to the table, as well as introducing some of his mates to training- Eddie Jones, Paul Gustard, Graham Rowntree to name a few. Still yet to do a birdbath, so not quite one of our own, but hopefully a naked squawking windmill from Will Cadden can turn him.
Finally, Russ Bolton. Nicknamed the ‘Angry Chimp’ from Will Greenwood, Russ has (alongside the other coaches), created, encouraged and developed an outstanding atmosphere, in which players can flourish. Selection has been the toughest ever this season, due to squad strength, and competition, and there are often disagreements from other players and coaches, but he’s taken these challenges in his stride, and will no doubt learn and develop. Russ doesn’t always get it right, but he is never too proud to admit things haven’t worked, and isn’t afraid to keep trying new things- the sign of a great coach, in my opinion. If young players make an error in a match, they are excused for ‘being young’, but that doesn’t apply to coaching. Russ is a young coach, right at the start of his career, and there’s no doubt, he will go on to bigger and better things. We just hope that he does that at Braywick!
-there are countless others, such as all of our committee, Chairman Steve Bough, President Dicky Brown, DoR Tony Brooks, Mike Andrew, David Perry, all of our sponsors, just too many to name. To all of you, thank you!
Finally, we sadly have to bid farewell and ‘good luck’ to a couple of players, who are off to pastures new;
-Will Thompson- a fine young player, and product of the Maids youth system, is sadly moving to Somerset, for a new job. Will has broken into the 1st XV this season, and looked equally assured at fly-half, centre and full-back. On the odd occasion that he has played for the 2nd XV, he’s received excellent reviews, for his attitude and play. We wish Will all the best, and hope to see him back at Braywick in the future.
-Paul Britton- an absolute cornerstone of the Maidenhead pack, for the last 7 seasons, since joining the club. His first introduction to life at Maids was unexpected, as Ricky Khan, then coach, hung up, after telling him to where go, thinking he’d received a prank call from Windsor coach, Paul Britton. Paul has made an astounding 133 appearances in black and magenta at tight head prop, and has played each one of those games with a big smile on his face. One of the nicest men you can meet, you will not once have heard a grumble from Paul, whatever team he’s been selected in, be it 1s, 2s or 3s, and regularly participates in extra-curricular activities at the club, whether it be helping coach youngsters on a Sunday, or helping carry water for the seniors. A true ‘club man’, who is an absolute shining example of what a senior player should be.
Paul leaves the club, to pursue a coaching career with another club, and we have no doubt he will make a huge success of it. Our loss, is certainly another club’s gain, and as pleased as we are for him, we’re extremely sad to be losing a player and friend of his quality. Someone who truly ‘bleeds magenta’, we wish you all the very best Paul, thank you enormously for all of your efforts, and sincerely hope you come back one day.
This week in the Maids squad sees a return for Nic Jones, who has been released on bail by the Austrian police, and will begin on the bench, as long as Lewis Jones has finished his 7 laps of the pitch by 3pm on Saturday. Murray Barratt replaces Will Macaulay in the back row, who broke his hand punching newly-single Ross Muil, who was trying to steal his girlfriend, so Ross also misses out. Rorie Hannigan has his final ‘Finishing School’ lesson, meaning Ed Keohane partners Will Thompson in the midfield. After smashing the points-scoring record recently, Tom Finnie has vowed to smash the club’s Jaegerbombs record, and Cadden’s girlfriend has vowed to smash his face.
- Parrott (c)
- L Jones
- N Jones
Come on you Maids!