Boxing Day Alumni Match at Fylde RFC
Old Arnoldian vs Old Lidunains, 26th December, 2018
Another perfect day presented itself for the annual Boxing Day fixture held at Fylde RFC. The pitch was in good condition and ready to have over 60 old boys grace its lush green grass. The teams started to arrive, and the excitement quickly grew in the changing rooms as did the anticipation for the big match ahead. The Old Arnoldians were keen to hold on to their winning streak while King Edwards would be up for a fight to take the victory and prevent Arnold having five wins in a row.
Mr Rudd describes how the day went for King Edwards, as well as a plea for players from our current Upper Sixth to take part next year…
“Arriving and seeing both teams warming up with so many players was a joy to behold even with my glasses on and squinting to make out who was playing I realised I was struggling to name them all. The game itself was a brilliant spectacle with the result not really reflecting the actual game. It must be remembered that KES were awarded the final try and so actually scored 14 not as the scoreboard showed.
On the pitch the play of the younger old boys, Kyle McCauley, Charlie Cadley and Fraser Stanier showed what talent is coming through for future years. Turning back the clock at the other end it was magnificent to see Mark Evans dusting off his boots and looking as sprightly as he did at Twickenham all of those years ago, just with less hair! Also Shaun Dickenson, Charlie Blagbrough, and Grant Blackshaw from the 2008 side who went unbeaten whilst touring New Zealand. I wonder how well Shaun and Charlie could do on the rowing machine and in the gym in 2019?
I was delighted that skipper Will Sheridan managed to throw his body into contact as he had done in his senior years at KEQMS but unusually it seemed to hold up. It was wonderful to speak to his Dad and how proud he was to be able to watch both Will and his brother Josh turn out together in the blue of their beloved KES. Alongside these brothers were the Pattersons, and Hays amongst others. The one student who I did struggle to name was Matthew Worsnip mainly due to the change in his stature since he left school. He left as a forward who was a little small, he returned as a giant who played in the centre and showed outstanding speed and skill. The whole squad should thank Jonny Waite for marshalling things from the side and sacrificing his outing to just a cameo few minutes at the death.
The atmosphere at Fylde during the game was awesome with a full house vocally supporting their heritage. In the clubhouse after the game this continued and it was wonderful for me to speak to so many old boys and girls who were so proud to have attended one of the 3 schools. May I thank Gabby Newell and Yasmin Clayton for their invite to carry on the festivities and also Joe Robinson and Chris Jones who did the same. I would have loved to have taken up your offer but at my age I am more suited to slippers in front of the TV after an afternoon at Fylde. It was great to reminisce about tours with Harry Ormsby, Dale Martin, Joe Rushton and Ben Shillito and find out what went on when they were supposed to be in bed. To be talking about things decades later shows how much these types of trips meant to our students and make them so worthwhile. Jonny Taylor I don’t have a tour shirt but do have your playing shirt from 2007 and so will bring it next year so make sure that you are there. Alex Yates I look forward to coming to your restaurant next time that I am in Manchester.
Thanks to Joe for organising and the team Captains. Ben Gould, Reece Chadwick and the rest sign up for next Year KES needs you, (Owen Walton I am more than happy to sign you up and give you the blue tie before you leave also). KES needs a win as we haven’t since 2016 so come all you old boys wherever you are your “School by the Sea” needs you.”
Now a view from the winning side, Mr Hayden gives his recollections of the day…
“With a legion of Peaky Blinder-attired supporters, Robbie Jones' Green and White Army took the field on Boxing Day in front of packed stands and hoping to make it five wins in a row against their old rivals. With social media playing a large part in team bonding and a considerable number of non-playing support staff, the build up to the match was a sustained one which included a number of "strategy" meetings in the local hostelries.
The Arnold squad was a considerable one, with Tom Armfield's side welcoming many debutants who lined up alongside some grizzled veterans. The match itself, played in front of packed stands, was a full-throttle affair, with both teams showing great commitment, passion and enthusiasm. However, the spirit of the match was excellent throughout and with the outcome being in the balance for much of the game, the crowds enjoyed a true festival of rugby.
Whilst the final score line may have flattered the victors slightly, the OA dressing room celebrations were an enthusiastic affair; and all players and supporters enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues. With a packed bar and many friends, pupils, alumni and staff of both schools present , the annual OA V Old Lidunian fixture continues to go from strength to strength.
A massive thanks has to go to Fylde on facilitating a truly outstanding day for the whole family, to all the players who brushed off a Christmas hangover and food coma to step out onto the field, to both our dazzling linemen on doing a fantastic job; and last but not least the main man in the middle, Mr Jeff Gould on refereeing a tough game in front of a big crowd - he had an outstanding performance. We look forward to seeing you again next Boxing Day.”