CLOSING THE GAP
While it is may be too early in the season to be debating relegation issues the failure to win any of our first seven games in National One has left us vulnerable. There is already a thirteen point gap between ourselves and the safety zone and we must soon find a way to close it. We came within touching distance of a confidence boosting win at Birmingham Moseley last week but losing bonus points will not be enough. What our second half performance showed, as it did in the game against Blackheath, was that we are quite capable of competing in this league. Moseley, currently fifth in the table with five victories, were workmanlike but nothing more, We were their equals and it was only nervous errors in the first half that let us down. If we give other sides too much respect, and that has perhaps been part of the problem, we will continue to be seen as easy pickings. National One was always going to be a challenge but winning our home games will be crucial to our prospects and we have another opportunity when Darlington Mowden Park have to shake a long journey out of their system. A pleasant footnote to the Moseley trip: Richard Corr, our former Pilgrims captain (when he wasn’t doing excellent first team duty) accompanied by his new daughter, was there to support us. Since moving to work at a Birmingham hospital he has called time on his playing career after helping local club Bourneville to get promoted.
Firstly an apology from me for our last performance at home, particularly on such a big weekend for the club. We clearly did not get our preparation right and for that I take responsibility. I can assure all that it is not through lack of application or desire that we find ourselves in this position. National 1 examines every aspect of your game thoroughly and areas that do not come up to scratch are exposed. We have made progress in many areas but need to show it consistently. The second half performance against Moseley brought the positivity we so desperately needed but, as against Blackheath, we left ourselves too much to do especially with players in the bin. It’s vital today that we follow up that effort in Birmingham. To do that we’ll need a great week on the training pitch, get our basics right and not gift opportunities to the opposition
If the first team need a morale booster then they can look to the example of the Pilgrims side. Our second team have had a tough baptism in Zoo League Division One, suffering a coup of heavy defeats before turning the corner in the past couple of weeks. A hard fought draw at Wimbledon was followed, last Saturday, by a fine win at Richmond. They will be looking to build on that in the game against Barnes.
Pilgrims coach Alex Veale and new team manager Frank Morgan senior, have had to cope with the heavy demands on their squad by injuries in the first team. It is to their credit that a talented young side, plus one or two old heads, is now making good progress.
WHAT A NIGHT!
You can say one thing about Canterbury that no can argue with – we know how to throw a party. The 90th anniversary dinner, on October 11th, lived up to all expectations. Around 200 people were there and it was great to see former players from across the decades travelling from far flung corners to be join the fun. For many it was a case of putting names to faces that once had hair on top, but they worked it out once the beer started to flow (bar takings topped £3.5 K Among many former first team players and captains present were Eddie Hardy, Bobby Astin, Roger Clark, Paul Charlesworth, Mark Rayner, Ceredig Emmanuel and Pete Jones to name but a few. We also had a speaker who was in tune with rugby as it used to be, – Jeff Probyn. Apologies if he was slightly non-PC or, on second thoughts, scrub the apologies.
There is a new addition to the club facilities which will bring comfort to many. Next to the clubhouse supporters now have the benefit of modern unisex toilets, with improved disabled access, which have been installed by local construction company Jenners, one of our long time sponsors. Thanks to the firm’s generosity those cross legged queues inside the club will be greatly eased. Much thought, of course, has gone into the location of the new toilets which are strategically placed next to the outside bar.
How many drinking (sorry, shopping) days are there to the pre-Christmas fixture Blackheath on December 21st? For the numerically challenged just put away your abacus and note that there will be a supporters bus going to the game to take the strain out of the festive celebrations. The cost will be £30 per head including food so make your booking early.