2013-14 Season Review
Played: 26 Won:18 Drew:2 Lost:6 Report by Captain Moose Murray
Looking back over my first season as 1XV captain, I am extremely proud of our achievements, having finished 4th from bottom in the 2012-13 season, a lot of people wrote us off, this year.
Several players and both the forwards and backs coach from the previous season were unable to commit and after losing another whole youth team of whom a large number had played 1XV rugby the previous season to University, we knew we had to rebuild.
Ex-first XV player and last years second XV coach, Leigh Fitchie returned with another Ex-first XV player and youth coach Mark Spearpoint took over as backs coach. Several other players who had not been available previously for the first XV because of work and family commitments returned, along with two seasoned pros, Dave Baxter & Will Turner both ex-First XV Captains who came out of retirement – AGAIN.
Looking back over the last season, we can boast to have put out at least 15 FRFC youth players every week this year, this is a credit to the FRFC youth team set up and all youth team coaches both past and present, and after a strong and brutal pre season, our goal for the year was simple, go out, enjoy ourselves and entertain.
The loss of Ben Flatman in pre season was a great loss, his power and experience was sorely missed, along with the continued absence of Rob Hudson who was to miss another season.
Following two warm up wins against the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment and Old Elthamians second XV, we went on a seven game unbeaten run, taking us into November, finally loosing against a very dogged Dartfordians side. They proved to be a thorn in our side this year, loosing to them twice in one month in both the league and cup, and drawing against them in a 36 all thriller in March, they were the only side we did not beat this season!
Sadly December was a month to forget for us, losing to both Ashford and Horsham before Christmas, and narrowly loosing to Thanet in the first game back after Christmas. The score line may not reflect this narrow defeat, but anyone who was present that day, will I’m sure admit that the two disallowed tries, should have stood, but there can be no arguments that the better side on the day won.
After three defeats in a row, it took a lot of character, to regroup, and although we lost several key players for a prolonged period, such as Matt Roots, Jon Morton, & Michael Gardner, we were boosted by the return of Will Silvey returning from University, Ollie Walton who commuted back from Berkshire, and Lewis Howland who returned from travelling.
From January to April we went on another unbeaten run, this time for 8 games, before being surprised against bottom of the league Beccehamians, who came out victorious 36-33, in a game that was played right to the death.
Several people have asked me about my favourite moment from the season just gone, and it’s difficult to pick one out. The 41-29 away win at Ashford, was followed up by a 25-22 home win against Thanet, was tough start to the season. Both were brutally hard physical games, and both teams ended up gaining promotion. A week after the Thanet game, we travelled away to Old Dunstonians, battered and bruised from the two previous weeks, all three coaches could not make the trip, due to work, family and Wasps all boys commitments. After 79 minutes, the game was tied at 18 all. They got the put in at the scrum on our 22, strong pressure from the pack forced a penalty, which scrum half Jordan Godden took quickly, the ball went through, the backs hands, before being fed through to fly half Adam Tolman who had then looped round to the wing to finish from the halfway line. Of course I also have to mention the 93-0 victory over Burgess Hill, and 41-20 away victory over Horsham.
Having started at inside centre in every game of the season, apart from the last, John Eustace won the first XV player of the year trophy ‘The Burlington Balls’. Having scored against every team we played this year Adam Tolman was voted by the players as Players Player, and Chris Petley was voted as Supporters Player.
32 year old lock Ben Stringer won most improved player, Ben has only played rugby for 3 years, all in the third XV, and turned up to pre season last year to get fit and try and break into the second XV, he ended up playing nearly every game for the First XV!
18 year old Liam Regardsoe won Most Promising Player, Liam, brother of ex-ladies captain Amber, joined us form Ashford, where he also played under 18s. At 6ft 4, and 19 stone Liam made a massive impact both on and off the field following his debut in February and will be a big loss next year when he goes to University.
19 year old tight head prop, Tom Carvill, won both Young Player of The Year, and Coaches Player. Tom is a true talent, committed to returning home from University every Thursday and Saturday, an 8 hour commute each week. Tom is the perfect example of the dedication that every single player has shown this year, and that and the camaraderie has what has made this season so special.
Sadly Head Coach Darren Molloy had to step down due to work commitments, but he has been replaced by both Leigh and Mark who have worked along side him for the last year, and preparation for next season is well under way. All the players wish Darren all the best, and look forward to the new season ahead.
Martin “Moose” Murray