There comes a time in every man’s life when he must kick a conversion to defend his honour…
 
Okay, let me back up.  On the last league weekend before the Christmas break, the Hackney 3rd XV travelled to Finsbury Park (who should really be called Turnpike Lane RFC) for a little pre-holiday cheer. Let us be blunt here, dear readers, Finsbury Park are very good. They know it (in a nice way), we know it and the rest of the league knows it. You would be forgiven then for thinking that the 14 man Gogs side that huddled together pre-game were dispirited and nervous, having been given a 70 point hiding by the same side two weeks before. But you would be wrong. Dead wrong.
 
With odds of victory about as high as the chances of Chris Reay’s hairline returning without surgery, the Gogs decided on a very simple order of the day. Play some rugby, have some fun and remember that things could be worse. We could be Fullarians or even worse, Leicester Tigers fans.
 
As expected, Finsbury Park were very good. They scored some very fine tries (and a couple of boring pushover ones as well, dirty 1970s rugby…), made some big tackles and spoke with an alarming number of Australian and Kiwi voices. They were well-deserved winners and great craic in the bar afterwards. May we never meet in the Cup / Plate.
 
For Hackney however, it is my duty to highlight some of the sterling work that was put in. For a team that spent upwards of 80% of the game in their own 22, the visitors never gave up putting in the big hits and keeping their heads up. Ollie Ball, playing on both wings, routinely stopped men three times his size while fly-half Chris Reay did now allow himself to be cowed by the Finsbury 8 who spent all game running down his channel. Quentin the Frenchman also did a brilliant impression of a cruise missile on a number of occasions, flying in from nowhere to chop marauding Finsbury Park backs down to size. In the pack John and Paddy both put in an absolute shift out of position while Josh Cole, playing only his second game of rugby, looks to be threatening his brother Matt for a place in the Gogs pack. Eventually MotM Dave Bates meanwhile won three scrums against the head at hooker and was an absolute pest around the breakdown.
 
In attack Hackney had much less time on the ball but always looked to push it wide. Ollie Ball made yards a number of times while, if he had been born with more fast twitch muscle, Reay would have scored a brilliant 80 meter intercept try.  As it was, our one score of the game came late after a shocking(ly good) rolling maul that collapsed just short of the Finsbury try line and allowed scrum-half Jimmy Huskins to nip over under the posts.
 
Which brings us back to conversions…
 
Avid readers may remember that last season, a certain Hackney back row kicked a beautiful end of game conversion away at Hemel that he has never lived down. Some within the squad just couldn’t take his 100% kicking record for the season seriously and were harsh in their mockery. So, with all to play for, yours truly stepped up again to silence the haters. The wind was swirling, the Finsbury squad were chuckling and Coach Seth was in apoplexy (or maybe rhapsody?) on the sidelines. Yet, when the pressure was down, Hackney’s Club Captain delivered and lofted a beautiful, sand wedge of a conversion straight and true (and very, very high) through the posts.
 
100% two seasons in a row I hear you say? Why yes, that is what the record books will show.
 
As a famous Frenchman once said – ‘When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea’.