BIG MATCH PREVIEW
by PETER WOODROOFE
Waterloo v Moseley, at Blundellsands,
Saturday 28 April, kick-off 3pm
Day of destiny
The Moseley travellers, and on this occasion there are many, will be going to Blundellsands on Saturday to support their team in a match which now has great significance.
Moseley had the opportunity to secure National One status for next season in the defeat to London Welsh as Otley lost to Exeter last Saturday, but it was not to be with Moseley losing 21-23, thanks to a last-minute penalty in a game that could have been with a bit more luck.
Otley lost 46-24, but secured a bonus point for scoring four tries, while Moseley won a losing bonus point which left Moseley three points ahead of Otley, who are in the relegation zone above already relegated Waterloo.
Mose hold the cards
With a quirk of the fixture list, Otley are at home to the aforementioned London Welsh on Saturday, the comfort for Moseley being that the Welsh played so well at Billesley last week. So safety is still in Moseley’s own hands. A win at Waterloo, rather than meeting their Waterloo, is the requirement.
Waterloo, who came up this season with Moseley from National Two, has already been relegated. Both clubs have found the change difficult, Waterloo winning only three games, Cornish Pirates 19-16 at home, and Exeter Chiefs 22-13 and, significantly, Moseley 20-12 away. Moseley has won six games, including one away 13-6 at London Welsh.
“The Drummers” have scored only 450 points and, apart from 31 points against Sedgley Park, their highest have been 22 at Exeter, 21 at Pertemps Bees, 21 at home to Coventry and Nottingham, and 20 at Moseley and home to Newbury.
They have conceded 1142 points, an average of 39 points per game to date. And thereby hangs the clue. Moseley must be at their, attacking game to win.
One cannot help feeling sorry that Waterloo will be relegated, or in fact for any related club in the League structure. This hit hard, especially in the first season of Courage Clubs championship rugby in 1987-88, when the experience of relegation happened to Coventry and Sale, with Waterloo escaping by just a point. Moseley were seventh out of twelve.
In the stable period before the Leagues, fixture lists were settled years in advance, with only occasionally teams breaking into the ‘senior clubs’. It was Waterloo’s turn to be relegated in the following season, with Moseley just retaining safety although relegation came two seasons later.
The histories of the two clubs are similar. Both suburbs of large cities and not bearing their respective cities’ names, they found life hard in the professional era of our game. Waterloo’s origins lie at Merchant Taylor’s School when it was hoped to keep highly successful school teams together by forming a club, which initially took its name from the nearest road to its pitch, ‘the Serpentine’.
The Liverpool club’s destiny changed in a story concerning the landowner, Colonel Blundell, Serpentine’s founder Sidney Hall, the honorary secretary, his brother, Harry, the Captain, and the treasurer George Abercrombie, who took over the preparation of the pitch infested with rabbits. The holes had to be filled in on Saturday morning with goalposts erected and the pitch marked out.
On one fateful Friday night the moon was bright, so the three men with Sidney’s dog set out to get the job done early and were accused of poaching by Colonel Blundell’s gamekeeper who embellished his story, no doubt for personal gain, by saying the men had traps and a coursing dog. The actual dog happened to be a mastiff! The Colonel believed his gamekeeper and the club was given notice to quit in three days.
The Hall brothers’ father was a close friend of Manley Foster who owned a field and he allowed them to use it free of rent and this was in the Waterloo district – thus in 1884 Serpentine was changed to Waterloo. The club has played in the Blundellsands area since 1892. (extracted and summarised from an excellent Waterloo Historical Perspective by Ian Hamilton Fazey).
Hit by professionalism
The professional era took its toll on suburbia, Waterloo being forced to sell part of its ground to survive and Moseley losing the Reddings after 120 years to cover its debts. But it is the great traditions of the clubs that obliged them to compete and has since provided the basis for survival.
Like Moseley, Waterloo have provided great international players such as PAUL GRAYSON, AUSTIN HEALEY, BEN KAY AND PETER GREENWOOD, who represented the club before achieving international honours with Northampton, Leicester and Harlequins.
After Waterloo gained promotion from National 2 last season they lost IAN AITCHISON, their Director of Rugby and their Coach PHIL WINSTANLEY. MICK MELROSE, who had had spells at Manley, Australia and at the Gentlemen of Aspen Club in the USA Super League, took over and Waterloo have still retained good players and signed newcomers – but on the pitch they did not appear to gel and produce consistent form.
New head men
MELROSE has left the club and playing matters have been taken over by club loyalist DAVID BLYTH, over 200 League appearances, and RICHARD BAXENDALE, the 1st team manager.
However, relegation has followed, which is surprising considering their squad of players that includes JONATHAN BRONDING-HARRIS, an ex-Saracens lock, PETER MURCHIE, full-back or centre from Bath, and No 8 RORY MACKAY from Manley.
From the beginning Waterloo vowed to keep faith with last season’s winning squad. They include quality centre FREEMAN PAYNE, the captain, who has scored 82 tries in a career to date, 2000-2007, winger JAY VAN DEVENTER, over 100 appearances and over 50 tries, winger NEIL KERFOOT, over 50 tries, front-row men MARTIN O’KEEFE and ROB O’DONNELL, lock JON NUGENT, and flanker DAN SMITH, all streetwise players.
Also, of course, there is the former Moseley full-back / fly-half STEPHEN NUTT, son of the Moseley President and former player DEREK NUTT, who will have mixed feelings, no doubt, on Saturday. STEPEHN has scored 318 points to date since joining Waterloo in 2004-5.
With the Waterloo philosophy of looking at the standard of performance instead of the League table, they have had recent one-point defeats by Coventry and Newbury and, in spite of some heavy defeats by the full-time sides, they have by all accounts shown patches of their true potential.
Give your all!
Which means that the Moseley players, cheered on by a large following, must not take their streetwise opponents lightly and if the Moseley team plays to its full potential, it could be a joyous day at Blundellsands. Good luck lads!
There's already one coach full and a second half full! Don't miss the bus!
Adults only £13; Under 16s just £8.
Waterloo Football Club, St Anthony's Road, Blundellsands, Liverpool, L23 8TW
Tel: 0151 924 4552; email@example.com
2 hours by car. M6 North; M62 West; M57 North.
Full instructions: http://www.waterloorugby.com/findus.asp
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