North One East
Percy Park 10 - 42 Huddersfield YMCA
This game can be compared to following Newcastle United, with the Percy Park faithful adorned in their ‘black and white’ colours travelling in their masses to the Preston Avenue Stadium in eager anticipation of an energetic performance against a Huddersfield YMCA side who had yet to register a win in North One East. The sun had its ‘hat on’, the bar was full of cheerful noisy chatter , the beer was flowing and as the ‘lads’ took to the pitch the crowd followed to voice their support, anticipating that their heroes would deliver an entertaining victory. And akin to watching Newcastle, on this occasion, that was as good as it got!! Percy Park failed to get going against a good organised Huddersfield side who looked the hungrier from the off. As the President stated in his match day notes ‘never go off the form book, it will only bite you’…and boy did it bite the Park faithful.
From the kick off Huddersfield were impatient and looking to stretch the game at any opportunity bringing their full back into the line to cause as much broken play as they could. Their back row started the game with intent by disrupting anything Park tried to orchestrate. The stage was set and it was with no great surprise that on 12 minutes Huddersfield opened the scoring with hooker Hill finishing a powerful forward drive. The try remained unconverted.
Despite Parks attempts to retain possession and position they were not allowed the platform to work off. Huddersfield were looking to rip the ball in the tackle area and contest any possession Park had on the ground and it was from a ‘ripped ball’ that Huddersfield made the next score. With Parks full back Richard Chadwick coming into the line the ball was ripped from his possession and as the player fell to the ground to retain the ball the referee was quickly at hand to award a penalty kick to the ‘YM’. A kick which was duly taken.
At this point Park were defending everything, and their defence is good, but with every tackle Park were losing ground and when Park managed to get the ball moving forward possession would be lost. The Huddersfield fly half would then kick to the corners with Park scrambling backwards. On one occasion Percy Park stalwart Michael Langlands playing at 8 had to fill in at full back showing some fine kicking skills to clear the danger. The game was not going our way.
Then Park got a break when just wide of their posts Huddersfield were adjudged ‘not to have rolled away and a penalty was awarded with Michael Grove dispatching the kick to get the team on the board. The mood in the crowd lifted with the hope that’s it we can get back into this and that hope was further lifted on 39 minutes with Phil Morse placing a lofty chip kick over the rushing Huddersfield defence. Seb Reece was on hand to collect motoring forward. The crowd were on their feet. This was better. A scramble tackle within the YM 22 had our supporting forwards barrelling in to ensure the ball was retained and with Morse on the gallop he was able to cross the line to record a fine score. A score converted by Grove. The score reduced to a 5 point deficit.
This was it we were back into it. Unfortunately Huddersfield had other ideas.
From the restart the ball was played high. A park forward challenged tapped the ball backwards to find the Huddersfield wing well placed to disrupt any ball Park hoped to collect. With possession retained the ball was quickly moved left to right and with a Park player bouncing off a tackle YM’s full back and Man of the Match Gavin Steed was in the line to score under the posts.
Percy Park were in at the half 12 points down. And then it was more of the same. Despite some fine individual performances to stem the tide Park were up against a better team on the day. Thirteen minutes into the half a cross kick from the Huddersfield fly half into space saw a foot race between Park full back Chadwick and the Huddersfield wing. A race won by the opposition player. And with the try line waiting the score was made and duly converted.
Then Park’s afternoon got harder when prop Michael Birkett was shown a red card after a bout of fisticuffs with his opposite number. How the referee failed to see that there were two players trading blows was the talk of the bar afterwards. With Park down to 14 it was uphill all the way. Two further penalty awards and a try kept the scoreboard busy…so busy that the home scorer awarded Huddersfield an addittional 7 points that they hadn’t earned.
Disappointment at the end for what might have been, yet the mood was lifted in the bar when Michael Birkett dispatched his opposite number in a ‘boat race’ and Toby Davison was adjudged to be a total ‘jackass’ by totalling the match day officers motorcycle with his car!!
Many thanks to ‘energie fitness’ for sponsoring the game with Man of the match awards being awarded to Percy Park full back Richard Chadwick and Huddersfield’s Gavin Steed.
On the day Huddersfield were better than we were and it’s back to the training paddock for Park. Yet you can learn more from a defeat than you can from a victory. We learned some lessons today but what we have in abundance is team unity and in coach Lome Faatau’s words ‘‘Next Saturday cannot come quick enough’. As the next game beckons the faithful will be there adorned in their colours anticipating a victory as they travel to support the team…..