DAY TO REMEMBER

The result may have been disappointing but the day was brilliant. That was the Canterbury experience as we made our debut in National Division One. First, the game. Against a side that has imported a lorry load of players with Championship and Premiership experience we might have been overwhelmed. Instead the team was highly competitive, fought back from a big first half deficit and caused OEs plenty of problems As we iron out some of the wrinkles which hampered us against a side who will be among the front runners then our right to play at this level will not be in question, challenging though it may be.
What will surely inspire us is the level of support we received. There were 500 people at the match and how Elthamians must have envied that number turning up to watch a home game. The crowd went home full of praise for what they had seen and experienced. When the Ted Phillips catering team sells out of burgers and sausage rolls by half time you know times are good. He has promised to stock up as we anticipate another busy afternoon today.
The downside of he game was the injury count. Five players have been ruled out of the Blackheath match which immediately puts pressure on the depth of our resources. Missing are skipper Sean Stapleton (concussion), Jamie Stephens (broken hand), Tristan King (rib), Ricky Mackintosh (hamstring) and Billy Young (leg). Injuries are part of a physical contact game but we deserve a bit better luck than this so early in the season.

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 N 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

It is wonderful to host Blackheath in our first ever league game between the two sides. We have met often in pre-season fixtures and Kent Cup clashes and there are a large number of past players (many of whom I imagine are here today) who have represented both clubs so it’s a special day.
A proud occasion last week as we made our debut at National 1. Old Elthamians taught us some lessons but I was happy with the character and much of our play as we begin our apprenticeship as a team and club at tis level. We had parity in possession and territory but OEs’ efficiency in converting pressure into points and punishing our errors was telling. The Pilgrims had a similar afternoon but a young side did a great job considering we lost four forwards in the two weeks prior to the match, putting early pressure on our wider squad. We do not have the vast resources of OEs (few do) and will only get better – we move on to the next battle a little more experienced.

Andy Pratt, Head of Rugby

A LESSON FOR ALL

There was a special day for a special person when Alison Williams, a superb Club Secretary for so long, celebrated her 70th birthday. Among the many tributes there was one which summed up everyone’s feelings, describing her as “ the most courageous, determined and nicest person on the planet.”. Alison has twice battled cancer, the first time being given only a ten per cent chance of survival. Her hugely positive attitude, a lesson to all who know her, saw her beat the odds. Since the cancer returned she has displayed the same strength of mind and determination to fight it. Others might have given up but Alison and her two sons were at last Saturdays game against Old Elthamians, doing one of the thing she loves best – supporting the club. So a belated Happy Birthday to a woman of intelligence and amazing spirit.

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.

FAMILY AFFAIR

In this our 90th year one family name has been synonymous with the club throughout all those years. The Simpsons have been chairmen, players and captains and the latest in a distinguished line is 3rd team skipper Ollie. Great grandfather Will was chairman, grandfather Will first team captain for many seasons and Ollie’s dad, yes another Will, led the Pilgrims. The youngest Simpson started as a junior and tells us he was coached by Giles Hilton in 1986 (well, you can’t have everything). “It seems the Simpson rugby talent has drained steadily until it reached my generation” joked Olie. ‘But we have a young and very talented third team this season who have been training hard and we are keen to win the league.”