This is a short musing on the first five games in the new and exciting world of Midland 4 West (South), from now on called Midland 4 West (South), I could not shorten it and retain all the relevant info, sorry.
The first game was at Old Yardleians, actually in our sister league 4 West (North), in the first round of the Senior Vase. You never really know how level the leagues are until you play the teams. Upton have played a few of the teams in this league within the last 3 or 4 years so there was some small inkling of the standard. Anyway this was all irrelevant on the day because it rained a bit and much of game was played quite tight. Saying that, there were some prolonged passages of good rugby and the new look Upton team seemed to be melding together. A try ran in from a five metre penalty gave Upton the win and a tie with old rivals Wolverhampton in the next round. I say old rivals, Upton played them in the cup a number of years ago and ran them close, only losing by the odd 80 or so points. This time they have to come to Upton, this will make all the difference. In all seriousness Upton have progressed since then and looking at the results it would appear Wolverhampton have not, they play in the league directly above Upton .
So on to the first league game, a nice easy one against Ledbury. Not only local rivals, but also a team who had only missed out on promotion on the last day of the season. On top of that the game had to be switched to Ross Road because of flooding. It never rains but it pours, quite literally. None of this seemed to matter on the pitch as Upton took the game to Ledbury and ran out convincing winners, Midland 4 West (South) was not looking so daunting after all.
The next Saturday dawned sunny, blue of sky, no clouds and not a breath of wind. A fine day to visit a new club, Old Leamingtonians, situated a couple of miles out of Leamington. I spent an hour or so lounging on their patio area, perusing the latest Rugby Times, chatting to one or two of the locals, supping an ale or two. I was able to do this as I had been driven to the game, usually I have to do this myself and can only partake of the odd shandy. After chilling out on the patio I took my place on the touchline and then went home an hour and a half later, Upton lost the game, Old Leams had finished in the top half the previous year so I was not too disappointed, it had been a nice sunny day in very pleasant surroundings, I did hope the players were not taking the same relaxed view I was.
Southam were the opponents the following week and I was hopeful of getting back on track, no team is going to win every game in this league so the odd defeat is to be expected, it is of course how you deal with them that sorts out the men from the older men. Southam had drawn with a newly relegated Pershore side the previous week, it would be a close game. A 12-6 defeat was not exactly what I had in mind. After the try scoring bonanza of Ledbury to go two matches without one was a tad concerning, but not the end of the world. After all next week was away at Woodrush, games against them are always 15 man free flowing try-fests.
Woodrush RFC is situated in a very green part of the world wedged between the M42 and Birmingham. The pitch is on a slope and dives towards one corner to boot. It always rains when I go to Wales and Woodrush, no change this time. A breakaway try for Upton and a well worked try to Woodrush in the first seven minutes seemed to be the prelude to the usual Woodrush corker, wrong, a penalty for Upton was all we got in the next 73 minutes. The win was welcome and the drive back was made in happy mood, no chauffeur this week. For anybody not a Woodrush regular all games against them are close, low scoring games, not sevens type rugby but still exciting.
Before I come onto the last of the five just a note on the noisy goings-on I hear every Tuesday evening. These emanate from the field behind where I live at the bottom of New Street, sometimes called Collinghurst Meadow or the Playing Field or the Park, the last one is just my daughter to be truthful. These noises are, I hope indicative of much learning and going through of drills and running around and generally learning many new and exciting things with which to dazzle the gathered throng on Saturday afternoon.
Now onto the last of the five games, well six, I have included the game at Old Yards because I was not getting that wet for nothing. Our visitors for the next game were Dunlop, a side from Coventry. Upton had played them a couple of years ago in a play-off match for promotion and were easily beaten, it was a hot sunny day on a very hard pitch and Dunlops backs ran the ball most effectively. The conditions were not that much different this time around and considering Upton went into the game missing what I would consider an entire starting back row the result was a very satisfying one: 31-17 to Upton with two late tries for Dunlop topping up their score.. This result leaves Upton in a very solid 4th after five games in Midland 4 West (south). There might be even better news to come with some sort of inquiry into some front row shenanigans during the game with Southam.
I mentioned the gathered throng earlier and to put things into some sort of perspective I noticed in the Rugby Paper on Sunday that three or four games in National Three north and South garnered crowds of less than 200. I know there is some sort of admission price involved at that level but I think there was a fairly sizeable crowd for the game against Dunlop, perhaps someone should count at future games, just for the record as it were.
I have not gone into specifics in this rather long short musing, nor have I criticised. I am sure Coach Kelsey has done more than enough of that and as far as I am concerned it has been a good start to the season and there seems to be no lack of effort from all of the players.
If anybody reads this and feels inclined to swell the throng all the regulars would, I am sure, be glad to see you.