So, after an incredibly tough run of fixtures, which has seen Maids play against league heavyweights Old Pats, Newbury and Old Cents, amongst others, they stand on the verge of being crowned champions of the most competitive South West One division in living memory. Last Saturday saw Maidenhead record their 6th consecutive bonus point victory, since the disappointing loss at Grove on January 28th. 8 points clear of 2nd placed Newbury Blues, a win tomorrow against a resurgent Reading Abbey at Rosehill, will make their lead at the top unassailable, and reward them with a spot in National 3 next year.
Maids have received many plaudits for the rugby they have played this season- fast, high-tempo, accurate and relentless, are all adjectives used at various points this campaign, so it’s only fair, that when these high standards are not met, as they weren’t a week ago versus Reading, then criticism is taken on the chin. Maids were far from their best, but missing key players such as Long, Jones, Cadden and Hannigan, coupled with various squad members down with illness, there are certainly mitigating factors…
On the plus side, the game was won with 5 points, extending the gap from 2nd placed to 8 points, and 2 fantastic young squad players, Joel Greene and Laurence Jones were given their debuts, and played a crucial part in a derby victory over old adversaries, Reading.
This week, despite their lowly-league position, Abbey will provide the sternest of tests. Fighting for their lives, and on the back of 2 morale-boosting victories against Chippenham and Grove, skipper Sam Hallett and his troops will be fired up, and want to knock a serious dent in the form book. Behind second-row Hallett, is the imposing figure of number 8, Will Woodward, a big ball carrier for the Rosehill boys, whilst full back Gavin Dampies is a lethal counter-attacking threat, with pace to burn. Ben Mitchell starts at 10, replacing the injured Luke Burns, and Maidenhead old boy, Pat McSweeney starts at loosehead.
This week, we decided to catch up with former 1st XV flanker, and now forwards coach, Mark ‘Badger’ Bates. The erudite, softly-spoken, artistic young man, gave us his thoughts, and an opportunity to learn more about him. Mark, a keen football hooligan and Tinder-enthusiast (see picture above), gave the following insights:
*Nickname(s)? Mark, Badger, Master Bates, Mr Worldwide, Birdbath-Barry, Gargoyle-Gary
*Occupation? Contemporary Dance Instructor
*Position? Downward Dog.. proppa nawty that!!!
*Former clubs? Chelsea Head Hunters, Inner City Firm, Maidenhead Floral Art Society
*Biggest coaching achievement to date? When Kempo laid out the Redingensians centre, after my clothes line session in training. So proud. Sharing a birdbath with Prinny was ‘triffic’.
*Favourite food? Lemons
*Dream woman/man? That Donna from the kitchen… she’s a right sort
*Which Maids teammate would you least like to be stuck in a lift with, and why? Will Greenwood- thinks he knows everything, but has he ever been butted by Rene Dance or been in the Battle of Coney Hill? I think not.
*What do you want to achieve this season? The holy trio- a t** w***, a session on the Pale Ales, followed by big tear up down the Vine. Promotion would be alright- I fancy a crack at those soft pasty-munchers next season.
Nic Jones continues to be unavailable, travelling on a pilgrimage to Austria, to visit the original Fritz lair, and Sam Churchyard has opted to visit the cat museum in Bali on his honeymoon- recommended by Tom Simpson, so misses out. Fears grow for Big Dom Birch, who hasn’t been seen since his birthday, when Christoph Bart took him to the Honeypot. Lunch Money Lewis Jones missed training on Tuesday with indigestion, but is hoping to be ‘fit’ and Will Cadden is available again, after being glassed by his Mrs at the Churchyard wedding.
- Parrott (c)
- L Jones
- Judas McSweeney
- Hallett (c)
Come on you Maids!