Under 12's at Trojans - "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...."etc
By Tom Gaynor
Reflecting with a glass of red, on a fabulous day for the Under 12's...
Unlike last weekend and the Battle of Agincourt, the field of battle at Trojans was dry, the sun was out and we had too few players! Due to school residentials, a sickness bug and a couple of injuries, this outstanding day's rugby relied upon the tenacity and resilience of 12 sturdy yeoman. No subs, no place to hide, only the player either side. (did I just rhyme that?)
The first game was against a physically strong New Milton. They used their heavy infantry well by attacking up the fringes before trying to release the ball wide to their cavalry. Alton were still rubbing the sleep from their eyes for the first try and many teams would have stumbled and failed to step back up after the onslaught of the first half. Now, real battles do not have a half-time, but if they did, you'd want this band of brothers there amid the muck and bullets with a plate of orange segments and the water bottles. "Come on, lets tackle lower" and "we have to defend in a line" and "let's hit the rucks harder". All from the players. And that is what they did. They rallied, tackled harder and lower (hallelujah) and hit the rucks like they actually wanted to win the ball. After sustained pressure and raids into the New Milton half it was still 1-0 with time running out. It came down to a nail-biting conclusion. And, can I remember who it was who intercepted and stormed downfield to score the equaliser with 30 seconds to go? No. Shakespeare dealt with fiction, so he could have made up the exciting conclusion and heap glory on Callum (might have been him, actually) or Rafa, or maybe Max? But this is a team with no interest in personal glory, so they share the spoils of this battle fought. 1-1
Now (and more briefly) on to the second game. This was a very different game, because this was Overton and they are rough six-footers from the wrong end of the trench. A tough game that Alton gave there all in, but which left us in second place from a bruising encounter that left a couple of us reaching for our copies of the Geneva Convention.... 4-1 to Overton. We were also now down to 11 with Xander falling prey to a sturdy high shoulder. (update - Xander was seen scoffing chocolate biscuits and will be back next week)
Now for a very different and well fought campaign. Romsey had some size and skill and kindly offered to play with 11 per side. Alton were the Desert Rats to Romsey's Afrika Korps - tough but honourable adversaries. Both were exponents of manoeuvre and strike, but soon into the first half, Alton punched through the Romsey lines and started to run in the tries. Sapper Ed 'Fitzy' Fitzgerald ran in a brace in a couple of minutes, the first from a cheeky and skilful offload from Lance Bombardier Ed 'Sandy' Beecham. Gunner Hughes put in a couple of belting tackles in this game. Ensign Reuben Osgood was playing another belter of a game. Rifleman Sly and Rifleman Sly were having a field-day. Marauding, tackling and weaving - poor old Romsey were tied in knots and it was great to see Rifleman Sly offload to Rifleman Sly for a cracking try. Alton piled on the pressure with Romsey only managing one successful counter-attack. 'Sandy' Beecham also got a pair of tries and Alton won the war in North Africa 6-1, and the army settled down for a nice cuppa and a short rest.
Thankfully with only one match to go, the military metaphors are nearly at an end. But not until the amphibious assault from Vectis was repulsed. Unfortunately, Midshipman Beetham had succumbed to sea sickness and had to leave...quickly. So, with a flotilla of ten, it was battle stations for the final scrap. The armada from over the seas had some big units and a couple of speedy frigates and were a handful. Alton started strongly and were able to attack with good powerful runs from the likes of Petty Officer Archie Long, Lokhagos Rafa Tontri (that's Greek for Captain, by the way) and Chief Stoker Rafe Langdale. The scores started to mount, but the scurvy dogs from Vectis were having none of it and the second half proved far tougher. They started to use their big fellas - one was built like the main-mast of a Ship of the Line (really big.) and Alton chose to offer safe passage to the try line - until Marine Leo Barnett felled the mast....unfortunately he did it with the bridge of his nose, but the main-mast came second! Marine Barnett was fine to continue, clearly following the signal that Alton expects all players to do their duty....(I paraphrase...). Alton were victorious and the vanquished were sent back over the horizon... 4-2
THE END (of awful metaphors and analogies)
This was a brilliant performance from every single boy and as a squad and club we have to be incredibly proud of the way these boys played and conducted themselves. Respect for referees, discipline when under the cosh, sportsmanship (Rafa was shaking hands at half-time in one game!) aplenty, absolute commitment to the team and the big smiles and grins of knowing they had played to their absolute best, regardless of the result. It was a privilege to take this bunch of lads to Trojans. Thank you.