LESSONS IN THE PARK

Once the National One fixture list was published it was clear that September was going to be a test of our resilience. That assessment has proved s to be spot on. We go into the last game of the month on the back of three defeats and with just two bonus points to show for our efforts. If expectations against three of last season’s top sides were limited the performance against Blackheath suggested we are quick learners, but then came Rosslyn Park. They were the strongest outfit we have encountered so far and it is no surprise to see them sitting at the top of the league table. They are clearly a club with both the resources and the ambition to be a Championship side. In their match programme they featured senior squad of 55 players, a fair percentage of whom have played at a higher level. While every club in this division will not be so well equipped we must adapt and learn to match the standards they set.
If the final scoreline was slightly flattering to Park it cannot disguise our failure to turn good territory into points, particularly in the second half. So, work to do and that old cliche ‘lessons to be learned.’ The Rosslyn Park game saw Charlie Connolly, a former Ireland Under 20 prop, make his first appearance where he joined another recent acquisition, Jamie Dever, in the front row. Jamie has already claimed two tries and we look forward to many more. One last observation on the Rosslyn Park game: the published crowd figure was 600. Realistically, it appeared to be about half that, so they are either optimists or enjoy sending money to the VAT man.

FESTIVAL TIME

It has become a fixture in the Canterbury social calendar but this year’s Oktoberfest is special. It is part of a great weekend celebrating the club’s 90the anniversary. Saturday, October 12th was the date of the first match played by a Canterbury rugby side in 1929 and no doubt the players celebrated with a beer or two after the game. In that great tradition Oktoberfest will be offering a selection of real ales, craft beers, local cider and much more. There will be food, live music throughout the day from 1pm to 9.30 pm and a National One game against Cambridge to whet the appetite and raise a thirst. You don’t have to drive because free transport is laid on from Canterbury Bus Station with a shuttle bus service.
Advance tickets cost £10 which is a £2.50 saving on the match day price. Season ticket holders can buy in advance for just £5. Tickets are available at the club, The Local, Chartham, The Unicorn Inn in St Dunstans and The Foundry, White Horse Lane. Club contact is Ted Phillips on 07914 678679 or e-mail him at: tedphillips@hotmail.co.uk.

ANDY’S VIEW

A tough afternoon last week against a very good Rosslyn Park team. We couldn’t have expected more in terms of application from the lads and there was real progress in a few areas. The intensity, accuracy and consistency of this league is something we have talked about in the summer – it wasn’t unexpected. We had to experience it to truly develop and I know we are. However, we simply cannot afford a long bedding in period and we need to start earning points at the same time as developing into a National 1 club.
Great to welcome a club that (I don’t believe) we have ever faced previously in any competition. Sale FC is another famous name we are proud to host and the first Northern team we have met in regular league competition. Enjoy the game!
Andy Pratt, Head of Rugby

CELEBRATION DINNER

The club’s 90th year will be celebrated in style over a huge weekend in October. On Friday. October 11th we plan to hold a special dinner and with Oktoberfest scheduled the following day the festival marquee will be the dinner venue. Former England prop Jeff Probyn will be the speaker and there will be a four course meal. On Saturday the first team fixture against Cambridge coincides with the first ever game played by Canterbury in 1929. Organiser Steve Uglow has already had responses from many former players and would like as many as possible to organise tables. Together with president Greg Mayne he will be contacting everyone individually. Steve is currently researching and writing a definitive history of the club and intends to have a display of our glorious past on view at the dinner. So get organised and make this the landmark occasion it deserves to be.

ED’S IN THE CHAIR
(pic)

The Sale game will be a special day for Ed Croucher, a member of the club’s Hellfire Wheelchair section, who will be presented with his own chair. It is a dream come true for the 14-year-old who fell in love with the rough and tumble of Wheelchair Rugby after attending a taster session designed to recruit young players.
Ed, who suffers from Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy, badgered his mum for eighteen months asking how he could join. Now it has all come together as Ed is big enough to fit a chair and thanks to a fund raising effort by former club chairman Mick O’Reilly and his wife Montse the chair is here. Last April the O’Reillys trekked for six days across Spain, from Ferrol to Santiago di Compostela setting out to raise £2,000 from sponsors to pay for a chair. Thanks to the generosity of many people in the club and their 120 kilometre walk that target was beaten by over £500 and Ed can realise his dream.
When asked what he loves about the game Ed’s words were: “Crashing into people and winning!”
” He may not be participating in many competitions as yet but the drive and ambition is there “ said Hellfire chairman Brian Pitchford.

MATT LOVES SALE

For one member of the Canterbury off-field team Sale’s visit today will bring back memories. Forwards coach Matt ‘Squeaky’ Pinnick was on the threshold of a professional rugby career when he joined the Sale academy back in 2000. He played in the Premiership Under 21 competition and helped Lancashire to win one of their many County Championship titles. Unfortunately, his hopes of making the top grade were dashed by a back injury which required surgery and he came home to Canterbury. Matt became a pillar of the club pack, captained the Kent county side and now dispenses all that experience to the present generation of front row players. He has fond memories of Heywood Road, the headquarters of our visitors, but promises to suspend the nostalgia for today’s encounter.