I was reading Amatays blog and there was a comment likening him to Teddy Sheringham, he of little pace but quick mind. It reminded me of this.
Picture a cold, wet November Sunday morning. Yours truly had been out all Saturday watching Wales play Australia. A few drinks had turned into a massive session. Our last port of call in those days was a bar run by a mate of ours. At two in the morning we had headed into the downstairs bar to watch the boxing. I can't recall who was boxing but we left at five in the morning and ended up in one of my mates' house where we sat up all night drinking cider. About 10.30 in the morning my phone goes and it's the captain of the team I play for.
"Where the fuck are you Rubbish, we kick off in half an hour?"
My heart sank. I'd totally forgotten I was playing in a charity game that morning. And not any old charity game but one against Welsh Accademicals.
For those of you who know fuck all about Rugby, Welsh Accademicals is a side made up mainly of ex International players and students who play charity matches raising money for various organisations. I've included a link which shows just who has played for them.
I told the boys I had to go to play against the "Accies" and they all, to a man, spat their drinks everywhere.
"You're fucking bollocksed, you're not serious are you?" was the main response.
I went home to grab my boots, all the boys in tow who were busily calling everyone to come and watch, knowing I was going to fuck up big time.
I got to the changing rooms where everyone was already changed and warmed up and stood under the shower for five minutes before throwing up and getting changed. This wasn't actually a rare occurence, in fact it was a weekly one in those days.
We walked onto the pitch on that aforementioned cold, wet November Sunday morning and my heart sank a little more. The "Accies" team had Gareth Davies, Mark Ring, John Deveraux, Gwyn Evans, Adrian Hadley and, opposite me, Robert Jones. Rob Jones had only just retired from Intenational Rugby and had been on two Lions tours. I had been drinking for 24 hours solid. That was just the backs. The forwards had a few Internationals in it as well. There was also a crowd of a few hundred people there, most of them waiting to see me do something stupid.
We were playing on a parks pitch and the rain was coming down in sheets. The sky was eerily dark for eleven in the morning as if God was sharing in my ritual humiliation by setting the perfect apocalyptic scene.
The Accies kicked off and our prop gathers the ball. A ruck ensues where someone comes over the top and the Ref awards us a penalty. I'm stood there with the ball in my hands and the Accies, to a man, turn around thinking I'm going to kick. I think "fuck it", take a quick tap and am gone. I incredibly avoid a couple of tackles and find myself in open space. The crowd rise to their feets as I hog the touchline. I can hear my mates screaming "go on Rubbish" as I cross halfway. Gwyn Evans, another Lions player, was full back and I could see him covering across. Gwyn was probably in his late fourties and probably the oldest player on the pitch.
I pictured in my mind what I was going to do. Gwyn would have me by the twenty two yard line so I would ease up and then accelerate when he was five yards away, leaving him grasp thin air and me stroll over the try line to the acclaim of the hundreds of fans there.
I accelerated at the right time. So did Gwyn. He hit me full tilt, shoulder to shoulder, and sent me flying about ten yards into the crowd who were dispersing a lot quicker than I was as they could all see what was going to happen. As I slid through the mud I could hear a huge cheer. I lay there for a moment struggling to catch my breath and could hear one of my mates shout "Fucking hell Gwyn, you've killed him". A deathly hush fell about the pitch as I was helped to my feet. I slowly walked through the crowd and back onto the pitch where Gwyn was standing. He held out his hand and as I shook it he said, a bit too loudly for my liking, "you know what Son, you're very deceptive. You're a lot slower than you look!"
The crowd erupted in laughter as did the players from both sides. Walking back off the pitch to throw up didn't exactly endear me to the crowd either.
We got absolutely stuffed but it was a fantastic day. Not many people get a chance to share a pitch with their heroes and even though I was pissed out of my head I can still remember all the match. I'm guessing Gwyn instantly forgot it. Can't blame him.