This special Big Match Preview for the
Cup Final has been written by Brian Dick of the Birmingham Post. It also
forms part of a comprehensive special souvenir pullout section of the
Birmingham Post which will be included with Thursday’s edition of the paper
and be available from all good newsagents. This souvenir issue will
undoubtedly become a collectors’ item and will be well worth getting.
There is a poem, slightly prickly in tone it has to be said, by Canadian
lecturer and wordsmith Tom Wayman called ‘Did I Miss Anything?’ The central
character is a student who has absented himself from a day’s classes and on
his return the following morning asks the question that gives the piece its
Wayman provides two responses, the first -
and I paraphrase - is along the lines of: ‘Nothing, the world stood still
while you were away. How could we have even considered continuing without
you?’ The second claims that yesterday an angel had descended from heaven
and imparted the secret of divine wisdom and eternal happiness. The
under-graduate’s complacency had cost him Everything (correct).
Moseley supporters, this Saturday back at Twickenham for the first time in
27 years, should perhaps defer from audibly wondering the same. The reply
from exasperated debenture holders might go something like this. “Did you
miss anything? Oh no, not much. Only the introduction of league rugby, the
creation of the World Cup, England winning the thing at the fifth attempt,
the advent of professionalism and six British Lions tours.”
nay the world, was indeed a different place when Derek Nutt led his team out
to face Gloucester in the spring of 1982, and Moseley was a certainly
different club. Internationals still decorated their line-up, they boasted
one of the finest fixture lists possible and most people with a Red and
Black bent had an in-built satellite navigation system that took them to the
sport’s most famous stadium, as if by second nature.
Had anyone at the time suggested it would be the best part of three decades
before Birmingham’s finest oval ball institution would return, they’d have
had real problems drinking their 30p pint in a straitjacket. Yet in truth
they have been close only twice, in 1988 and 1990 when they fell at the
final hurdle. Since then Henry Trinder has grown two sets of teeth and Dan
Norton has learned to walk, very, very quickly.
The greats have either trudged disconsolately away, dredged the depths of
their souls and pockets to keep their club alive or done both. In some cases
they have passed to a world where they can visit Twickenham and watch their
heroes play every day. This is neither the place nor the time for
recrimination and muck-raking, however. This is supposed to be a happy
occasion and many of the new generation of standard bearers, both in the
stand and on the pitch, will know little of a history that is both
illustrious and painful.
To them this weekend is either just the latest trip to a decent venue with a
wide pitch but a difficult wind, or a beautiful and overdue reward for all
those horrible training sessions at Metchley Lane , without showers, food or
But it is only partial recompense. Actually winning the EDF Energy National
Trophy would be the most appropriate loyalty bonus. No Moseley side has ever
left south west London utterly and completely victorious.
boys came closest. The 12-12 draw with Gloucester earned them a six-month
part-share of the John Player Cup. In 1979 Martin Cooper’s men were edged
15-12 by a Leicester team on the first leg of their three-year domination.
And in the competition’s inaugural season, 1972, Jan Webster’s Dirtied Dozen
could not prevent the Cherry and Whites taking the RFU Club Competition by
two tries, a penalty and two drop goals to one converted try. That’s 17-6 in
Of the three previous finals, Saturday’s showpiece is a task most akin to
the first. The financial advantages afforded opponents Leeds Carnegie, by
the inequitable funding structure that exists in the modern game, is
probably worth more than a three player advantage. If one were to be ultra
picky only a few of Moseley’s foot-soldiers would get anywhere near the
Leeds match day squad, fewer still would make their first XV.
But nothing is impossible. Birmingham & Solihull came within one play of
beating the Yorkshiremen in the quarter-finals and Moseley weren’t far off
when they battled them to a standstill in National One just under a
fortnight ago. Had they not spent the first half hour admiring Leeds’ pretty
patterns, even the harshest critic must concede the Carnegie back three
really are a class apart, Moseley could have knocked another wheel of their
faltering promotion bandwagon. Instead they lost 31-26.
But if they counter-ruck as if their lives depend on it, much as they did in
the second half, come up quickly in defence and force handling errors and
capitalise on those fumbles, just as they did against Exeter in the semi
finals, they could cause an upset. In Norton and Trinder they have two
outside-backs of blazing pace. In ball carriers James Rodwell and Neil Mason
they have both rapier and blunderbuss and Terry Sigley is a tighthead who
will have seen everything Leeds can throw at him - and more.
But to achieve the improbable they will have to play as well individually
and collectively as they ever have. If they can do it theirs would be a
place in history, if not, the afternoon could become just another footnote
in another season where their league status has been threatened. Whatever
happens, though, they will at least be back at a venue where they once
routinely appeared and part-time supporter Bob from Reddings Lane will
finally be able to find out if he’s missed anything.
Birmingham Post for more in their comprehensive special souvenir pullout