Have you heard the cries and yells of the Fyling Hall warrior? It was most recently heard on an afternoon in mid-November so bitingly cold it saw brass monkeys running for their warmest cardigans. On this bitter day our brave Fyling Hall lads, with grim determination, marched resolutely onto the rugby pitch to face old rivals, Red House School, for one of the few home matches of the season.
Much of the first half passed us in a blur as Red House found their pace from the off and were able to put 22 points past us unchallenged. We were adrift, our minds apparently elsewhere as we missed tackles, fumbled the ball and needlessly threw away possession. The situation was looking bleak despite a near score from Hyumbin but the team, headed by Charlie as playmaker at number 10, managed to stem the flow of points away from us and we worked our way back into the match. Our defensive organisation improved and this gave to the lads a renewed sense of hope and optimism that had hitherto been a stranger to us and as the referee’s whistle signaled for the half time oranges we were trailing 32-0.
The half-time talk from Mr. Mayne was swift and to the point and as the lads flowed back onto the pitch for the recommencement it was a very different team from the one that had left it only minutes earlier. In each eye was the spark of determination, in each heart was beating the tattoo calling to glory and in each voice was to be heard the cries and yells of the Fyling Hall warrior.
Mr. Coates, in referee’s livery, blew to start the second half and with the fifteen hearts of the Fyling Hallers beating as one they were off. Again and again, Charlie controlled the play sometimes feeding the ball out wide to the backs and at other times allowing the forwards to pin their ears back and fly; every time now that Cameron took possession of the ball he charged, with the unwavering determination of a stampeding rhino into and through defender after defender leaving in his wake a swathe of downed opposition. JJ, imbued by the fervour that was sweeping over the team followed Cameron’s lead and the casual, phlegmatic attitudes for which he is both known and loved the school over were replaced with grit and indomitability as he battled and carried, swerved and danced his way through player after player – but still we could not get over the line.
Oaklei was denied a try under the posts after the referee deemed that the grounding had been made in a double movement and the team accepted his decision, however contentious, as gentlemen and were spurred on to even greater things.
On the left wing, Timothy was making a glorious nuisance of himself to the opposition as he chased every ball that came near him and, with ball in hand, showed real speed.
In defense both Oaklei and Aspen put in commendable second half performances and George over on the right wing made bone-crunching tackle after bone-crunching tackle shutting off any hope of a Red House resurgence; ‘Whichever way you choose to run, my friend,’ he seemed to be saying to his opposite number, ‘you’ll find no advance through me.’ and by Jove he was right. Hyumbin showed, with similar indefatigable spirit, that as well as being gazelle-like in attack he was a forceable and potent defender but sadly he had to watch the final few minutes of the match from the touchline after injuring his shoulder making a try-saving tackle.
As the game wore on, Juan grew bolder and bolder in confidence and Toby made some very encouraging progress ever onwards to the Red House line with Freddie who had been working tirelessly both in defense and attack throughout the match.
Following a particularly sustained and furied attack by Fyling Hall resulting in our setting up temporary residence on the Red House School try line, the ball was slipped back from our omnipresent scrum half, Luke, who had been working tirelessly to provide a fast attacking platform, to Charlie who burrowed his way through the last remaining defenders to score.
The crisp afternoon air was rent as the cheers from players and spectators alike could be heard across five counties. Miss Havelock and Dr. Richardson rallying, cajoling and encouraging the players at every opportunity as Mrs. Milner stalked the touchline like a bull terrier shouting for all she was worth to her lads all manner of emboldening epithets (many of which unprintable) and Mr. Mayne nodded his approval in his characteristically astute and sagacious way which wrought a new mettle into the hearts of his team.
This score heaped yet more coal onto the fire of Fyling Hall’s determination and although the team knew now that a victory was unlikely, they played for something far more important than a win, far more noble than triumph over another school – they played for honour and with the crowd very firmly behind them, they began again. Arthur had been a blessing to the team throughout the match and never more than now as his work rate flew off the charts and was instrumental in both attack and defense. Arda, ostensibly playing at centre was anywhere and everywhere across the pitch ripping the ball with zeal and fortitude from the clutches of the Red House team again and again. Tomas made his mark in the match showing himself to be an effective ball carrier and played a decisive role in a very near score for us towards the end of the match.
At the final whistle of the match, despite the 7 – 42 score line, it was a very much encouraged Fyling Hall team that jogged over to Mr. Mayne for a post-match analysis.
It is an oft’ overused expression in sport to report a match being one of two halves but never, in the history of the game of rugby, has this expression been more aptly applied to a match than in this instance; where we were slow and sluggish in the first half, we were alight with vim and determination in the second, where we were downcast and defeated in the first half, we were renewed with hope, courage and fortitude in the second and, despite the grim sound of the score line, with the majority of the ball and possession in the second half Fyling Hall Under 15 XV have good cause to hold their heads high as they head, undaunted, into their next fixture.
Chris Thomas, Head of English