It was a week when the evenings were starting to draw in earlier by the day and the term to ‘pull a Harvey’ took on a new meaning, there was an unmistakeable scent of autumn in the air as a merry band of Space Cowboys assembled in the sheds at Grasshoppers RFC on a crisp Friday evening. That autumnal scent was only to be broken by the aromas of Deep Heat, horrendously pungent French cheese and Jack Daniels which emanated from the Cowboys dressing room. As the tape was being applied and creaking joints warmed up for the first run out of the year, there was a good atmosphere amongst the Cowboys – Some of the more seasoned combatants wondered how they’d ended up here again, while at the same time some of the younger, more handsome members of the brigade wondered how they had ended up here already. It was a time of mixed emotions.
Despite only having a handful of subs, amongst them the veteran known as Sausage, the Lisbon native known simply as Franco & rugby virgin James Hill, there was a feeling that the squad had more than enough firepower to overcome the Grasshoppers Vets. And so it proved as 15 minutes into the first half, one of the younger, more handsome members of the team, hooker Colin ‘Great Glutes’ Coogan, took a tidy inside ball off first five-eighth J ‘Jay’ J to burst between two tacklers and score the opening try of the game. Additional points were duly added by an unusually chilled out Alex ‘Check Out My Lycra’ Cook, whom some of the spectators suggested may have been spiked with sedatives before the game – Results of a subsequent toxicology test proved inconclusive, hardly surprising given his new found passion for cycling.
Soon after, the ever injury prone Ken ‘00’ Southern sustained a bang to head which resulted in the type of injury that ‘00’ suffers from on an almost inevitable basis, so much so that you’d be hard pressed to find a member of the Thamesians community who would be willing to put money on him making it the whole way through an 80 minute game without a medically enforced absence from the field of play.
However, it wasn’t all to be one way traffic and 10 minutes later Grasshoppers broke back with a well worked try which resulted in one of their centres finishing under the Cowboys’ posts. After some well needed hydration and a couple of words from some of the more vocal members of the squad, the Cowboys rode back to front line and proceeded to apply plenty of pressure once to the Grasshoppers defensive line. And again, the breakthrough came from a 10 – Front Row combo, however, this time it was one balding father to another as J ‘Jay’ J played a deft volleyball-esque downwards pass to the Frank ‘The Furniture Breaker’ O’Reilly who allowed momentum to carry him over the line and touch down for another Cowboys try. And so the score remained until the break.
After the break, as is often the case with such insects, it was Grasshoppers who found themselves in acres of open field and after some quick hands they again ran down the pitch to get themselves within touching distance of the Cowboys. The next 10 minutes saw some good spells of rugby from both sides interspersed with the types of mistakes which one expects when dealing with sleep deprived parents and functioning alcoholics. Some neat breaks from midfield by Ed ‘My Name is My Initials’ Dickens and Ben ‘Battering Ram’ Coleman saw the Cowboys make some good yardage. Likewise, some uncharacteristically silky running from a zen-lycra Cookie with support from James ‘Activewear’ England also resulted in some big gains for the Cowboys.
The forwards also contributed with some big carries from Baldy, Inchy, Adi, Peter & Franco adding to the momentum and the next score would deservedly come a solid catch and drive line out for the Cowboys pack – All 8 forwards getting involved and the ball being presented perfectly for the newly shredded ‘Slim-line’ Slash to slither in from 5 yards out and put the Cowboys clear again.
The game wasn’t over yet and after some repeated penalty infringements from the Cowboys, it was Grasshoppers who scored the next try having spent 5 mins playing on the Cowboys 22 metre line. Again, there were some words of wisdom offered in the Cowboys huddle before they galloped back to the halfway line and started to turn the screw on the Grasshoppers once again. After a period of sustained attacking Cowboys pressure in the Grasshoppers half, the ball was turned over and kicked deep into the finely sculpted arms of ‘Activewear’ who waltzed between helpless Grasshoppers from his own 10 metre line up into the opposition 22 and provided a self-less pass for the advancing David ‘Chop-Chop’ Jackson to finish the job under the posts. The remaining 10 minutes saw the introduction of the wily old fox Sausage, as well as some staunch defence from the travelling Cowboys which led to a well-deserved victory, albeit that the scoreline probably didn’t reflect the true extent to which they were the better side on the night.
After a quick on pitch debrief and a swift call to Major Tom, the Cowboys retreated to the sheds and embraced the healing warmth which only bourbon and strong lager can provide after a night’s hard graft.
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