It’s the summer of 2007. A different time. It seems like a distant memory now of a bygone world. Before the Financial crisis, before Austerity, before Brexit and Trump. Heck, before even Johnny Crockett had played a match for the mighty Hackney RFC…

It is mid-morning on a pleasant day in the Great Cheshire Plains and this author is sitting down to apply for different university Geography courses via the wonderful world of UCAS.

“Do a real subject!” his gran snarls at him as he tries to explain the relative merits of different forms of erosion. “But freeze-thaw is really interesting as ice has a volumetric increase of 9% over water. It’s why ice floats in your drink” the author responds triumphantly, confident he has successfully put such complicated issues into the most basic of layman’s terms. His confidence only slightly punctured as he hears “bore off you square” from the postman as he delivers that days mail (Mail for younger readers is like a paper form of a Facebook poke).

Usually his mother is to be relied upon for such occasions to provide counsel and direction. However it is mid-morning, so she is already passed out drunk on altar wine. As a result, to his father he does turn. “Son, I’ll be honest, we are a family of achievers and achievers don’t do geography. They do management consultancy.” This advice isn’t seen as overly helpful to the young whippersnapper, as no university offers management consultancy as a degree. So like a male Dick Whittington, he packs up his belongings and sets off for the bright lights of university uttering these final words to his family before departure “One day I will prove to you the value of a geography degree!!”. He leaves to the sound of much chortling and guffawing and the distant cries of “don’t bother coming back…”

Fast forward c.11 years. The 26th of October, the year of our Lord two thousand and eighteen. Redemption day has cometh. 

Hackney RFC embark on an away trip to 2nd in the league Welwyn RFC in the lovely Garden City of the aforementioned name. The scene is thus. Captain Fresh and his young protégé Watmore are travelling in light pink Fiat 500. After discussing such Big Talk topics as Fantasy football teams, Red Dead Redemption 2, and the stag to end all stags that Messer’s Wilkinson and Strong found themselves on, Fresh turns to Watmore and says “so what constitutes a Garden City”? The time has arrived. 3 years of moderately light work at university and a lifetime of abuse was about to pay off. Google informed the author he had only 32 minutes left to his destination. He must act fast, but he was ready. 

Watmore mused, before stating “I’m glad you asked, oh Captain Fresh. The Garden City movement was started in 1898 as a radical campaign for co-operative development, set out by parliamentary stenographer Ebenezer Howard. In reaction to the overcrowding and industrial pollution of growing Victorian cities, Howard launched his vision for a series of ideal towns, contained by rolling green belts that would separate housing from industry and combine the best of the city and the countryside.”

"Human society and the beauty of nature are meant to be enjoyed together," Howard wrote in ‘Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform’. "Town and Country must be married, and out of this joyous union will spring a new hope, a new life, a new civilization.”

“Much like the Borders then”, Fresh quipped, before continuing with “Thank god I asked, oh learned man. Where did you garner such enlightenment??” 

To this Watmore simply replied “Knowledge is but a fruit. Wisdom is knowing which Garden City to grow it in”. Both Fresh and Watmore looked at each other knowingly, nodded, and continued into what would be an entertaining game of rugby...

Player Ratings* ** ***

  1. Dave Lewis - Single portion of meat. Was that a confident jog I saw on the way back to the halfway line? 7/10
  2. Tom Jellicoe - Grateful for the opportunity to improve. 6.5/10
  3. Lawrence Mills - Spotted running with the ball in broken play. Appeared confused. 6/10
  4. James Legg - Must have not called loudly enough when outside Adam Eagle waiting to be put in for a simple try (x3). 7/10
  5. Jonny Crockett - Been around a long time. 6.5/10
  6. Geoff Furlong - Always asks very politely where he should stand. 7/10
  7. Ben Sudell - Remains exceedingly nice. Getting suspicious now. 7/10
  8. James Noble - Suggestion of guyliner. Said he can prop. 10/10
  9. Ludo Bathgate - Best Australian on the day. 7/10
  10. Joe Askham - 'Have you considered transitioning into the forwards?' 9.5/10
  11. Yinka Busari - Runs quickly. That rig though. 7/10
  12. James Miller - Put in another 8/10 performance as standard - 7/10
  13. Guy Watmore - Provided a match report for the ages 9/10
  14. Ultan Murphy - Has successfully enacted a bloodless coup to claim the kicking tee. 7/10
  15. Adam Eagle - Said he would pass. Didn't. Tan fading fast. 5.5/10
  16. Cian MsDonagh - So nice for a man who seems so crazy. 7/10
  17. Fraser Tait - Large human. 7/10
  18. Quentin Villeret - Didn't let getting split in half affect his mood. 6.5/10

*Ratings provided by Captain Fresh

** Ratings not representative of performance

***Except Stronger who gets a 6/10