Much like the fabled box of chocolates from Forrest Gump, with the 2019/20 Gogs, you never know quite what you are going to get. After an indifferent run spanning the darkest winter months the season looked to be heading back in the right direction with an emphatic win over our nearest local rivals from Old Street, the team then slumped against bottom of the table Haringey the following week. With Storm Dennis in full swing, the fact that there was a game at all was something of a surprise as games were steadily called off across London.

Having reluctantly left the warmth of the changing room to ‘warm up’, numerous Gogs and the referee were waylaid by the two captains’ executive decision to bring kick off forward ‘to beat the storm’ (which was, as mentioned, very much underway). With a slightly makeshift starting pack Hackney started well for once and played the conditions sensibly, with good handling from the forwards and mostly sensible kicking from the backs (and occasionally forwards) keeping Thamesians in their own half. Though Thamesians had a large squad of large players, and a penchant for using those large players to try and bash large holes one at a time through the Hackney fringes, they were largely held at bay for the first half.

It was Hackney who drew first blood with a kick in behind the defence being gathered by Xavier Brune who dotted down after the Thamesians full back had gone missing. With a gale howling from one touchline to the other this was not a day to be trying to slot conversions from the 5m line and the kick was duly missed (although your correspondent cannot recall exactly who missed the kick). Although Hackney continued to have a large amount of possession the conditions did not favour the expansive game for which the Gogs are occasionally known and chances remained limited to trundles from the forwards and kicks with the wind deep into the Thamesians half.

With the final action of the first half the Thamesians route one game found success after being gifted a scrum in the Hackney 22 (although your correspondent cannot recall exactly who knocked it on), and despite excellent Hackney defence, a large Thamesians forward bundled over. With the conversion missed the scores were level at half time.

With the referee keen to move things along, the half-time break of approximately 1 minute and 9 seconds was just enough for time for injured captain/uninjured coach Kieran Murray to help everyone cross ‘structure’ off of their bingo card. Unfortunately, Hackney appeared to still be in the half time interval as a dropped ball shortly after the restart led to an easy run in for a recently arrived Thamesians centre, disproving the assertion that they were in fact playing without a backline.

There followed around half an hour of what could best be described as ‘rugby for purists’ (think Scotland v England from a week previous, but with less terrible box-kicking), in which the Hackney pack turned the screw on both opposition scrum and lineout to good effect, but to little reward. With conditions somehow worsening and nothing more than a penalty to show for the domination in territory, the Gogs resorted to some route one rugby of their own. Man of the Match and all-round wallflower Adam Faulkner led the way with some trademark bullocking trundles and with the rest of the pack putting in huge shifts Hackney were hammering at the door. Eventually pressure led to a series of penalties on the Thamesians line and a quick tap from debutant Rob Heighway put Laurie Benson in in the corner for what may, on another day, have ended up being the winning try.

Having coughed up a last minute try to lose at home against Hanwell a few weeks earlier, surely the Gogs would not do the same again? Well, dear reader, you will have had to have clicked through a few mentions of the scoreline to get this far or have played in the game to have any interest, so you already know what happened. In fact, the ending to this game was reminiscent of that Hanwell game, with Hackney failing to play out the final few minutes, despite having possession, to secure the win. And the opposition using their large set of large forwards to trundle, eventually, over the line, for the winning try. The Thamesians kicker inexplicably took his kick quickly enough to allow Hackney the opportunity to restart, although actually this just turned out to be an opportunity for the worst restart in recent rugby history to take place (although, unsurprisingly, your correspondent cannot recall exactly who took this abysmal restart, which surely, rightly, would have been awarded dick of the day if we were the kind of club that does dick of the day, which of course we are not).

So, disappointment, but not (too much) disheartenment after a vastly improved performance. Thanks go to Thamesians for their commitment to getting the game on, even if it did have to be moved to the outskirts of Heathrow Airport (where conditions could be described as sub-optimal). We look forward to the return fixture in 2 weeks, and hopefully a reversal of fortunes

1)     Mike Waithe – at the forefront of the set piece dominance. The only man happy to have to drive to Feltham and thereby have a shorter journey than normal (8/10)

2)     Spencer Elliot – is he a hooker? Is he a back row? Is he a playmaking first receiver who loves to kick to the corners? Is he Rolfin? Does the lot, though should continue doing the lot in the Gogs for the time being (8/10)

3)     Dave Lewis – eschewed some pre-tour bowling practice in favour of a last-minute call up (down?) to return to his spiritual home in the Gogs. Carried hard throughout and didn’t regret his decision to offer his services at any point (8/10)

4)     Matt Cole(Talpa europaea) – dominated the lineout in horrendous conditions despite playing part of the game with a broken finger, in a blatant attempt to impress the similarly-afflicted skipper. Still the second best rugby player in his family, but gaining ground. (8/10)

5)     Rob Corr – a solid shift from the former scrum half, who has bowed to the inevitable and joined the ranks of former scrum halves in becoming a back row. Which quickly became second row when most of the Gogs’ second rows got waylaid by Feltham being nowhere near anywhere. Loves a carry, and does it rather well (8/10)

6)     Ricky Tobin – still claiming not to be Australian, despite continuing to host a magnificent soup strainer outside of Movember. Also can rugby rather well, played his part in a big pack effort (8/10)

7)     Arran Ferguson – twanged a hammy in the warm up, or possibly on Friday night: a gentleman never tells. Still quicker on one leg than your correspondent is on two, although this was not in evidence when running for the train home (8/10)

8)     Adam Faulkner – trundled, repeatedly, made tackles, repeatedly, and kicked, mercifully infrequently. Also somehow didn’t get binned, despite yet again almost getting binned. Still drinking his MoM pint when Thamesians’ clubhouse closed for the night (32/32)

9)     Matt Fielden – on a horrible day to be a scrum half, the Field Marshal was 69% inspirational skipper, 31% questionable purchaser of train beers. Went to Cambridge you know, didn’t remember to purchase any stash whilst there. (8/10)

10)  Matt Hanton – unfortunately, your correspondent cannot recall anything that this member of the team may or may not have accomplished on Saturday afternoon. (unrated)

11)  Rich Shorey – disappointing lack of tries from the Gogs’ top try scorer, which may have had something to do with the fact that the wind was blowing away from his wing, though that’s surely no excuse (8/10)

12)  Chris Reay – on arguably a very bad day to be a kicking playmaker, did the sensible thing and let others do it badly instead. Executed a glorious show and go line break, but was unfortunate to be, at least to all appearances, running into the wind at the time (7/10)

13)  Huge Price – runs a very lovely zeroes line, unfortunately it was not a day for miss passes and so had to content himself with running lots of crash ball. Not concussed. (8/10)

14)  Laurie Benson – took his try superbly, only to surpass this by agreeing to take the kit. A thoroughly lovely chap (8/10)

15)  Xavier Brune – claims to be a scrum half but seems to have the lot in the back 3. Great finish for his try though could maybe have taken it into the same postcode as the posts, just saying. Safe under the high ball in the horrible conditions, took one excellent mark about 30m out (8/10)

16)  Franck Cohadonle chien grand back where he belongs in the Gogs. Lovely. (8/10)

17)  Rob Heighway – “Rob, where do you play?” “9…or anywhere in the backs if needed…but I haven’t played for a while”. Cue 40 mins in the centres where he didn’t look out of place, followed by 20 at scrum half, and ditto. Excellent Gogs debut, and apologies for leaving you at the station with only Mr Price for company. (8/10)

18)  Charlie BlahBlah – unfortunate to have to partly change on the side of the pitch, but if you will arrive late… Typically solid, especially in the bar afterwards (8/10)

19)  Seb Hejna – has finally got over the PTSD associated with Ampthill sending their ‘fours’ to Spring Hill a couple of years back and picked a wonderful day to return to the Hackney fold, good to have him back (8/10)

20)  KL Chung – deemed unroadworthy by his mechanic on the morning of the game, definitely unrelated to an upcoming skiing trip (1/2 groins)

21)  Tommaso Eugenio Davides – ‘stuck on a work call’ the official reason for absence, some suspect it is sulking at the loss of his 100% captaincy record the previous week. Does a lot for his work (-6.9/10)