May 1 2012
So, it has come to this, one last game to secure rugby at this level. There can be no slip ups, no turning back, no half measures.
Despite waking up in the middle of the night & predawn hours, thinking about the Falcons, sometimes shivering, occasionally feeling sick, I have none of these fears when facing playing.
For Gateshead IVs, this weekend was to be the last of the season, home against Novocastrians Development side, who had named 18 hale & hearty players to come to Eastwood Gardens, earlier in the week. Last weekend we faced Durham IIIs in a friendly, giving some players a run who may not have had as much time on the pitch as they would like recently, but also to prevent ring rust.
The league was still up for grabs. Alnwick were in the driving seat but a big win would see Gateshead put pressure on their title hopes. So as we started getting stripped & changed, thoughts of a good game turned to focus on what each individual had to do.
One of Novo's players had walked from Newcastle to Gateshead for the game & was awaiting the rest of his side, with one other joining him, when, with 40 minutes before kick off, the call came.
Novo's had 10 players & were ceding the match. Four points in the bag, but not enough to guarantee that we could win the league, not like the five we we going to play for & the potential extras for giving them players, especially with Alnwick still having the opportunity to extend their league.
So rather than the beer in the bath we had hoped for, Gateshead's elders trooped in to the stands to support the third team's friendly against Horden, extending to them the wealth of knowledge held, offering up nuggets of constructive criticism, cheers & the odd Mexican wave.
Strangely once the beer & cold had settled in in the second half & the 4s removed themselves en masse to the bar, the 3s upped their game, losing only to a try in the dying seconds of the match.
So, season over, beer festival, away trip to York (though sadly with no game to play) & end of season dinner to look forward to, but no more rugby. It is never good to go out on whimper rather than a bang, but you can never be the master of your destiny all the time.
It is with heavy heart, throat still sore from last Friday's home game with Sarries & the promise of a dream still alive, that I'll miss going away to Wasps. Despite the promise of easy parking 10 minutes walk from the ground, a hot meal & a bed for the night at the wife's grandma's, fate & a diary malfunction have intervened so that I can't join the mass movement south of a group of men, women & children striving to give the lads the support they deserve to beat the Wasps (huh, them & their tokenistic attempts at cheering, nothing to compare with the Blaydon Races).
I wasn't kidding about waking up in cold sweats. I would love to be there & see if I could irreparibly damage my vocal chords cheering the lads on to victory. I thought we lost the last game, when we could have won, so I'll be sat with my radio listening to Smithy (if I can't get admitted to the bar to watch), cheering you on, to not go out with a whimper.
Let's go out with a bang, give 'em hell, get four tries, cause the upset, for
England, Harry & St George North East England, Gary, & Semore.
For all those who choose the black. Think not of what the Championship can do for us, but what we can do for the Premiership.
So hoarse, so hoarse, a strepsil for me hoarse...
'Til next season (Sm128)