Tue 04 Dec 2018 11:25

This is a strange missive to write, sadly it will not quite be of the standard of Alastair Cooke, not the cricketer you youngsters, or even Supertramp, but hopefully the explanation for anything being out of date or more disjointed than usual is made.

I would remind everyone again that the EGM is tonight, if you can be there to find out how things are going that would be great. Otherwise I will try and provide an update when I am back.

From Thursday we move on to Saturday. The Men face Stockport, the Seconds look to continue their good run of form at Rochdale and the Thirds take on West Park at home.

However, before a ball is kicked about 160 of you plus guests from Stockport will enjoy the Christmas WOPS lunch. It is a pretty special one as I have mentioned before. As well the chance to meet friends, a few more than usual, there is to be a presentation to Alan Ashcroft, a very famous name from our past, with a cap commemorating his appearances with the British and Irish Lions in 1959. 1959 is a very long time ago, as I have often been reminded, and there is a strange karma that Alan receives his cap, appropriately presented by Ray French another great man of local rugby, 59 years after his journey with the Lions.

On a personal note, after his successes at the highest level, Alan was one of a band of players in Jack Graham's all-star 5th and 6th teams, that helped me and many others understand and, maybe,  get a little bit better at rugby. It was an honour even a few years later to play as a 16/17 year old in the same team as a British and Irish Lion. It showed rugby can be fun, let you admire skills retained and that it is an experience that it is worth coming back to week after week.

It did also lead to one of those occasions when you start to realise you might have been playing too long, playing with Alan in the 70's and then Paul and Jason in the 80's and 90's then the appearance of Tom, Alan's grandson, in the same team as me at Bury in the 2000's put some writing on the wall that has since become overwhelming.

It is also great to think of the prowess that Waterloo, now Firwood Waterloo, has had in the Number 8 position and to know that some of those I have enjoyed watching over the years will.be there to see Alan receive his cap. Although I am not sure if JRH Greenwood, another famous international No.8, will be there, son Jason will, and also Laurie Connor and Gill Burns, who both took on the mantle with such style, followed in the men's game by our B's, Beeley, Blyth and Bell, supplemented by Cyr Njike Tchakoute, apologies that time and space leads to significant omissions but I hope the point is made and the talent is clearly still continuing, although one personal favourite needs a mention, Tony Pugh, is here today and as an ex-pupil of Alan will surely feel the love in the room. Have a great time and then…….

Returning to the rugby I will be briefer.  Stockport will be a tough game, we find ourselves after last week's reversal, still well placed in the pack, with Stockport sitting close by. It will be nice to welcome them together with a recent old boy, Liam McGovern. I know the team will be keen too bounce back and your support will be needed to help them through.

On Sunday, the Women entertain Richmond in Tyrrell's Premier 15's in another key clash. We sit just above them, have beaten them away and both teams results have taken a positive turn recently and so a keenly contested game is anticipated. The Women's Development team also play on Sunday and both teams would appreciate you turning out for some great rugby in this slightly extended double header.

Also on Sunday the colts play Sandbach and the minis and juniors entertain or are entertained by Caldy and Manchester. The Under 16's play Ellesmere Port and my thanks go to them for their attendance at the coaches meeting last week and to Phil for leading a coaching session for other coaches, a great idea allowing information to be shared and making attending a meeting even more appealing. Great idea guys.

Returning to Saturday, the seconds are off to Rochdale and the thirds entertain West Park which brings me back to Number 8's again. Dave Bentham has selflessly over the years served as a second row, but has always been seen by me as a Firwood Waterloo Number 8. His commitment to the junior teams both 3rd and 4th teams has kept them ticking over. He is reducing his playing time but still helping in the key task of running the thirds with the support of many. The thirds underpin the strength of the Men's side, as the Women's Development Team do on the Women's side. The senior teams need that support and the Thirds and Development Teams appreciate yours, so if you can play, support or encourage them that would be great and as Alan taught me the whole team and joining in where you can is what it is all about.

Enjoy the weekend.

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