Can Club Whack Mob at the Races?
by Nick Sullivan
It turns out there is a god. Or, at least, some minor deity who oversees Blackheath’s match previews. The name Ampthill, it seems, is derived from ‘ant hill’ and those old enough to remember (but not so old that they’re forgotten it all) don’t need to be told where that is likely to lead…
And the joyous coincidence does not stop there. Excluding the Anthill Mob themselves, and Penelope Pitstop (although we can include her if you like), there are 15 other Racers…a strangely convenient number. So, time to climb aboard your Chugga Bug, practice mumbling your best ‘Sassafrassarassum’ and prepare for the Wacky Race that is Blackheath v Ampthill & District RFC (6th).
Amps have had no problems finding their feet at Level Three after winning promotion as National Two Champions in the 2014/15 season, finishing 4th in their first campaign and third last season. On the way to that third place, they had home victories over both Plymouth Albion and Coventry.
Supremos Mark Lavery and Paul Turner have focussed their recruitment on youthful experience in the closed season. Joining the Bedfordshire outfit this year are: Prop Karl Garside (Old Albanian); prop Jack Culverhouse (Bedford); hooker Josh Taylor (Old Albanian); lock Alex Woolford (London Scottish, Welsh, Northampton Academy); flanker Syd Blackmore (Bath Academy, Cinderford, Wales U20); fly-halfs Josh Sharp (Loughborough Students) and Lawrence Rayner (Nottingham). Also joining, in the second flush of youth perhaps, are scrum half Stefan Liebenberg (Cambridge), who Club supporters will have seen on many occasions over the years, full back/coach James Pritchard (Canada, Bedford) and lock Simon Pitfield (Loughborough Students).
National One as at Friday 15 September 2017
Past Meetings and Recent Results
This is Amps’ third season in National One, the record so far being three wins to Blackheath, one to Ampthill. The Bedfordshire outfit won the last of those encounters – a 17 (2) – 24 (3) victory at Well Hall in February. The Southeast London side recorded a 10 – 15 win away at their first ever meeting in October 2015, followed by a 21 – 15 win in January 2016 and a bonus point 17 – 31 victory at Dillingham Park last October.
So far this year, our guests came from behind to salvage a 21 – all draw away at Moseley in their first game of the season, no mean feat, before going one step further last week and beating Old Albanian 28 – 24.
Match Day Details
Kick off at Well Hall is 3pm. Wondering what on Earth he has let himself in for is James Clarke, whilst helping keep an eye on the finishing line are Paul Kimber and Philip Bowers.
Mother Nature has decided that it is time for autumn; expect a crisp and dry start, but cloud is likely to gather as the day rolls with some showers quite possible through the afternoon. The temperature will reach around 14/15 degrees, accompanied by a gentle 7mph breeze from the north.
If you cannot make Well Hall this weekend, don’t forget the always excellent Graham Cox on BBC Radio Kent (96.7 FM, 104.2 FM, 774 AM, DAB & On-line) who provides live score updates and reports, post-match interviews, plus a full round-up National League results for all Kent clubs after 5.00 pm.
Wacky First XV V Ampthill & District HOME 16 September 2017
15. Lazy Luke (Arkansas Chugga Bug) Geoff GRIFFITHS
14. Private Meekly (Army Surplus Special) Tom CHAPMAN
13. Peter Perfect (Turbo Terrific) Markus BURCHAM (Capt)
12. Red Max (Crimson Haybailer) Mark COOKE
11. Prof Pat Pending (Convert-a-Car) Jake LLOYD
10. Dick Dastardly (Mean Machine) Joe TARRANT
9. Muttley (Mean Machine) Josh DAVIES
1. Sergeant Blast (Army Surplus Special) Hayden KING
2. Sawtooth (Buzzwagon) Matt MILES
3. Rufus Roughcut (Buzzwagon) Danny HERRIOTT
4. Little Gruesome (Creepy Coupe) Chukwuma OSAZUWA
5. Big Gruesome (Creepy Coupe) Neale PATRICK
6. Rock Slag (Slag Brothers, Boulder Mobile) Tom STRADWICK
7. Gravel Slag (Slag Brothers, Boulder Mobile) Harry BATE
8. Blubber Bear (Arkansas Chugga Bug) Tom BALDWIN
16. Harry FRY
17. Kieron SCUTT
18. Freddie OWEN
19. Sam EVANS
20. Sam FARMER
Oh, and for anyone still in WTH mode…
Around the Grounds
Early front runners Coventry (1st) are clear favourites to add to their existing 17 try haul as they head down the M1 to take on winless Old Albanian (14th) at Woollams Fields. Hot on their heels Darlington Mowden Park (2nd), the only other side with a 100% record after two matches, have home advantage over 1-&-1 Cambridge (9th). Third and fifth go head to head in Hertfordshire, where Bishops Stortford (3rd) face what is likely to be their sternest test of the first three weeks as they take on Plymouth Albion (5th) at Silver Leys. The visitors are likely to be the punters’ choice to take the points.
New boys Caldy (7th) are separated from their hosts Loughborough Students (11th) by a couple of 4-try bonus points, whilst Esher (10th) welcome local lads Rosslyn Park (6th) to Molesey Road.
In the West Midlands, Birmingham Moseley (12th), who are disappointed to have a draw and a loss to their name so far, hope to kick start their campaign with a home tie against equally disappointed Hull Ionians (16th) in a match with an unusual Friday night 8pm kick off.
Finally, two sides looking for their first ‘W’ of the season meet on the Lancashire coast as misfiring Fylde (15th) host newcomers Old Elthamians (13th).
The Heathens triumphed for a second week running last weekend, with a 22 – 10 victory over Cinderford United. The result takes them to third in the league on 9 points behind OE’s IIs (9 pts) in second and London Scottish IIs (10 pts) in first.
This weekend, the boys have their third home tie in a double header against Ampthill. The IIs match kicks off at Rectory Field at 2.30 pm.
And in Other News…
…the recently reformed London Welsh completed their first competitive fixture in their new home of Herts/Middlesex 1 last weekend. Every journey begins with a single step, and Welsh’s ambition of four promotions in five seasons got off to a steady start with a 5 – 14 away win. That leaves them fourth in a league they share with not only names the like of Watford – their opponents in that match – and Barnet Elizabethans, but also third placed Saracens and top of the table Wasps.
Good luck Blackheath and Come On Youuuu Cluuuuuub!