Tezza yawned as he strode down the wide staircase of Georgian splendour in his favourite Saturday morning smoking jacket. ‘I hope it’s kedgeree this morning’ he mused. He patted Rosie playfully on the bottom and smiled to himself as the familiar aroma of hand picked West African specially roasted Arabica beans hit his nose as he poured himself a pick me up into his favourite coffee cup from the silver pot holding the fresh brewed liquid. He wandered toward the sunshine streaming in to the house across the perfectly manicured lawns of Peckham Rye. ‘Yes’ he smiled ‘today is an Emperors day’.
Meanwhile, in Earlsfield, the Orrster was busily trying to see if he could remove a full to the brim nappy, balance it on the table, contents intact, wet wipe the target clean and wrap it all up in one gooey bundle without covering both the carpet, himself and part of the new wallpaper in a musty beige colour. He failed. He sighed. Secured the new nappy in place and thought ‘at least it’s Emperors day’.
‘Swamp thing’ Tees was nervous. Yes, he still wore leather trousers, yes he still had the same leather Tassle jacket, yes his eyesight was so appalling he still couldn’t see which way he was supposed to be playing and he now had a beard, BUT non of this mattered, he’d never trained, not even when he was in his twenties. At one level why start now, however the extra 6 stone he had accumulated over 25 years were a possible cause for concern. ‘Nah’ he thought as he pulled open a can of Guiness for breakfast ‘Fuck em if they can’t take a joke!’
The stage was set. After weeks of lack lustre planning and by sheer bad luck, the Emperors found themselves with 18 players, a pitch, a referee, an opposition and remarkably a pub willing to host them afterwards. Edge was disconsolate.
New shirts, a couple of special guests and a day full of sunshine beckoned us to the hallowed turf of Barn Elms.
Edge and Podders had hired a driver. They sipped on lucozade as the trip to Barnes sauntered by. ‘I’ve seen the young lads drink this stuff’ Podders muttered. Edge was looking decidedly green having walloped his down in one to try and help the hangover…
Our Opposition was an hour early, all in their mid twenties, trained twice a week and had those shrink to fit shirts on that looked ridiculously out of place on a 4XV. ‘I think they may a bit of a club in a club’ mused Mini Mather as he shimmied his way into the No9 shirt…..
As kick off approached, the Oppo were running lines, practising lineouts and doing drills. The Emperors did not have a full side, were doing lines in the bathroom and we’re all ready drilled from Friday night.
Miraculously we had fifteen at kick off. Edge received a couple of wry smiles (or were they grimaces) from Dowsy and Swamp thing, both of whom had been promised that with plenty of players, they would only need to run out for 20 mins or so….. Little did they know that Taff was still having G&T’s with Worz in Notting Hill at five to 1 and Harry and Hugo had decided to have a full English on their way down and ‘lost track of time’- mind you looking at Harry’s beard, which makes him look like Captain Haddock, keeping up with the times is clearly not a priority!
I digress. The rugby game had started. With Gally on the wing (normally No4), Chouly in the Centre (normally No5), Kyle covering fullback and everyone feeling a bit sweaty!
I think they kicked to us. Maybe not. Who cares. BOOM!! The smell of soil, deep heat and Smarty’s underpants clashed together in the first collision and we were off.
Off balance, off fitness, off questionable parentage and off hand to say the least!
Our pre match trepidation of this shrink wrapped, gel wearing bunch if Gen-Xers turned out to be only modestly well founded. We also (surprisingly) had a little more bulk than they did.
With an early flurry of exchanges, the Oppo found themselves in our half and after a classic Paddy front row union infringement, they did the unthinkable and kicked for goal….. Very disappointing. They clearly did not receive the memo.
The Emperors responded in fitting fashion. Brindass – looking fresh and fit from his wedding and subsequent month of horizontal core exercises – was on imperious form as ever, proving himself a real handful for the opposition (even with a beard) and was ably abetted by Pascoe on the other flank doing the same. At least two of the three back row could run!
In short order and with great running from Mini, Tezza, Kyle and Orrster, Brindass crossed the line and promptly slapped the ball down.
An outstanding score. But our two number 10’s were still sipping G&T’s and eating breakfast respectively. Step up the Orrster. Ball placed carefully on the kicking tee. Paces back and to the side. Tap your toe. Clasp your hands. Look at the posts. Look at the ball. Repeat three times……. The ball even after seven bounces didn’t make it as far as the posts. ‘Have another go’ said the referee – he obviously felt really sorry for him. The routine stared again….. With exactly the same result! This prompted Gordon to whisper to Tezza ‘b’jesus, look if it’s a problem I’m happy to have a craic at the goal kickin?’, ‘Oh have you kicked at goal before?’, ‘Nah, but oi rekon I’d be better den dat!!’
Harry and Hugo eventually turned up before half time, much to Swamp thing’s relief, who before the game had promised that he was only there to scrummage and in fairness had been true to his word. He rolled off – literally.
By half time it was 14- 14. Or something like that. Honour even and forty minutes played.
‘Right’ said Edge, ‘well, it’s going okay. No one in A&E and we’re even!’
Taff regally arrived at the pitch and donned the No13 shirt, with his first touch, he cut a beautiful line and opened up the defence. Sublime. He then rolled off for some oxygen.
We were now 18 and so a little subage was achieved in the second forty. It was just as well.
The Emperors fought hard in the second period, but one soft try was the difference. We had the last laugh as Tezza crashed over in the corner, but we could not make up the deficit that remained at 3 points. However given the years deficit was about 236, I think it was a moral victory.
The Red Lion hosted us for the international game. They ran out of jugs at one point, which precipitated a drinking frenzy to refill them…..
The Emperors were in good heart – apart from Taff who cheered up with five minutes of the Twickenham game to go, to then revert to looking disconsolate once again. Shouts of ‘I-TO-JE’ filled the air, bitter, lager and cider filled the bellies and by seven pm, the survivors club (most of the team) were too drunk to even remember that we were suppose to join the 1XV at the Alma!!! That’s the trouble with early Kick offs, over excited drinking and a lack of practice…
Thankfully on our next game on the 16th April, the 1XV will be with us, so they can carry us to the Alma!!!
3: the whole team for surviving!
2: Tezza and Orrster for great running
1: Brindass and Pascoe who were equally both tireless and outstanding.
See you all on the 16th for Ladies Day.
Jason Tees, Patrick Kingston, Guy Smart, Hugo Pires, Matt Podmore, Jim Dow, Max Gallagher, Greg Brindass, Tom Pascoe, Tim Edghill (c), Pete Mather, Erik Dwyer (aka Harry), Matt Terry (vc), Carl Chouler, Mark Harris, Kyle Durrant, Gordon McCabe, Will Orr.