Well where do I start with this one, which epithet do you wish me to use (or should I say cliché). How about “grasping victory from the jaws of defeat”, “it’s not over till the fat lady sings”, or how about “till the fat lad scores”, “a Hollywood ending to coincide with the Oscars weekend”, or was it just Simpson’s Simpletons winning in Thorpey Time.
Eccles travelled to Upper Eden with a rearranged side due to injuries and unavailability’s, and the “Red Kit” which is always a bad omen. Kirkby Stephen is not a happy hunting ground for the lads and so we “knew” it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience. With the coach having a delayed departure due to young Josh being stuck on the M6, coming up from the south, resulting in a late arrival at Upper Eden, the portents did not look good at all.
The game started with no side taking control, but both setting there stall out to take the game to the opponents. Early on Matt Parkinson was unlucky to be pulled down just before the line after a smart break through the home sides defence. Then Upper Eden really did took hold of the game and put Eccles under sustained pressure resulting in a converted try and a penalty. Undaunted Eccles came back and went looking for a try of their own and were soon grateful for a combination of fortune and endeavour. With Eccles putting the home side’s scum under pressure and the ball bouncing lose, a speculative kick saw Josh Boothman make up for his late arrival with a chase and dive on the ball after it had bounced off the corner flag into the in-goal area.
Affronted by the cheek shown by the Eccles lads the home side came straight back and claimed another penalty goal. But the Eccles lads just came straight back themselves and started to apply the type of pressure we know they can. Mixed with a spirit of adventure not normally seen the ball was moved around as best they could. This resulted in the ball falling into the hands of Matt Parkinson again, who this time chose to do a little chip and chase to beat everyone for the touch down. With Eccles maintaining the pressure a Danny Holland penalty kick saw the scores draw level.
During this period the Eccles cause was not helped with Tom Dutton being dragged off the pitch with a leg injury. Now this is normally where we bring Nemo back on, alas the young lad was away practising for the next Winter Olympic, apparently he has heard that Wales will be putting in a team next time round, subject to their own independence. With no Nemo it fell to Greg Wilson to do his impersonation of a Centre and quickly realised it’s not as easy as everyone thinks.
All was heading for parity at half time, all apart from the home side who were determined to re-establish the lead. Their forcefulness was justly rewarded with a converted try on the stroke of the half time whistle.
Half time score Upper Eden 20 – Eccles 13.
The second half started with both sides going for it. Upper Eden trying to extend their lead and Eccles looking again for parity. Following a period of drives by the forwards Sam Simpson eventually did his own version of a quarter back sneak to claim a hard earned try for the lads which the Dutchman converted to bring the scores level again.
Alas with parity came complacency or was it just an increase in the efforts of the home side as they came straight back at Eccles are soon ran in two converted tries due to a sustained period of excellent support play. You could have forgiven the lads for feeling as if they had had the stuffing knocked out of them. Well you would expect this from lesser mortals. Unable to understand when they are beat and with only single figures on the clock approaching the lads just kept on going at the home side. Hopes were lifted as Matt Parkinson ran into free space with two players outside and the home side’s line beckoning, alas the young lad chose to go himself and was caught just short again, what compounded the felony was seeing the ball quickly recycled and passed inside to Spick Nooner who chose to walk in under the posts to score. The Dutchman converted to make it really interesting and put the pressure on the home side.
Straight from the restart Eccles went surging up the field looking for more. Driving into the Upper Eden 22, Will Parkinson chose to make an appearance into the game for once and did his own version of Casper the Ghost, with a quick pick up from a breakdown he went over the line but was unlucky to be held up. From the attacking scrum the forwards went for glory and drove the home side back for a Push Over try. The Dutchman again converted to bring the scores level.
With less minutes, than I have fingers on my left hand, on the clock Eccles went looking for blood. Bold determination took them again into the home side’s 22 and drive after drive eventually gave Mark Greenhalgh the opportunity to drive over from ½ a yard to score. I’ve never seen the lad being hugged by so many before, as all celebrated. The Dutchman converted.
With seconds to go Eccles, for once, ran the clock down for victory.
Well I don’t know if it was abject stubbiness refusing to accept when their beat. Or was it a case of the facts falling on deaf ears, was it dumb insolence, or just blind belligerence. I don’t know but they were all bouncing around like monkeys.
Along with the jubilation of the Eccles lads, the home side were a credit to themselves, not only had they played extremely well but coupled with this they were totally magnanimous in defeat. If we ever lose this fixture from the calendar it will be a loss for both sides.
My final comment goes to the referee for imposing his requirements for all to shut up and let him ref the game. He also has what most refs have not got and that’s a sense of humour. Well he laughed at my jokes, eventually.