Remember their names because on Saturday last our magnificent squad excelled themselves in front of a large, supportive crowd watching our team defeat the league leaders Hampstead for the second time this season. Oli Lacey (capt,) Sean McLoughlin, Pete Sims, George Rolfe, Ed Preston, Tom Rolfe, Michael Goode, Alex Randall, Fred Gulliford, Ollie Mann, Nick Childs, Luke Barber, Jack Pennell, Adam Wilkinson, Matt Wells, Callum Moyle, Max Baggio and Rob Owen.
Unfortunately neither Bobby Tane or Jimmy Speirs were fit nor Adam Wheatley available but that didn't stop our squad from scoring tries (six in total, four of which were converted by Mann) and head down the home straight as clear winners although the final ten minutes caused one or two spectators to run for their BUPA survival kits such was the tension. This was the cockney league at its best. And, for those wondering what this means it comprises, inter alia Ammersmith & Fulham, Arrow, Arpenden, Emel Empstead, Ackney and HAitch HAy C (the latter peers of Amstead at the start of the season) turning this league into a highly entertaining group of combatants who often showed a never-say-die attitude in adversity.
The lead of 34-12 that Harpenden had with 25 minutes to go seemed adequate enough. However, a stirring fight-back by the visitors saw them score a further 19 points against a single try by the home side that, unfortunately, led to Hampstead being granted a try-bonus point. The party hadn't begun that way. Luke Barber's fine break gave a new meaning to the expression that parting is such sweet sorrow as he sped in the gap left for him by the visitor's centre pairing. It was just what Nick Childs needed to open the scoring. Three more tries were to come before the break via Ed-the-tractor Preston (2) and full back Matt Wells. Ollie Mann converted three-quarters of these and chucked in a penalty for good measure meaning that the half-time score had reached 29-12 with a hint of more to come. But, as the old saw has it, promises and pie-crust are made to be broken (quote: John Tett, Harpenden Cross Keys 1999 after 10 pints).
When Max Baggio scored his first and Harpenden's fifth try a quarter of an hour into the 2nd half it seemed that the match was over. Hampstead's James Glaysher and Alex Brooks had other ideas and powered over for the third and fourth tries respectively. Oh, that fatal fourth, a deed of dreadful note with 20 minutes remaining.The die seemed cast. A fifth try then arrived that wasn't in the script, scored by Ajay Olufemi, no sooner had Jack Pennell made it HRFC's sixth a few moments earlier.
Confessing to being ecstatic at the end of the match, captain Oli Lacey praised both teams for their contribution to a fantastic match. Breathless, in the manner of former rock star Jerry Lee Lewis, Oli justifiably purred with delight. He had led his pack to a moral victory over the slightly bigger-looking opposition forwards and deserved to bathe in the post-match euphoria.
Harpenden: Tries Nick Childs Ed Preston (2) Matt Wells Max Baggio Jack Pennell
Conversions Ollie Mann (4)
Hampstead: Tries Jonty Hallett Dan Wigley James Glaysher Alex Brooks Ajay Olufemi
Conversions Dan Dimoline (3)