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Cropper Does It Again

You might think this is reference to a match winning performance by veteran Gregg Cropper, but alas, no it isn’t. It’s a reference to his ability to select 2 evenly matched teams from an eclectic mix of Manchester’s finest Wednesday night warriors. December 2nd saw the dusting off of boots and testing to see if sportwear that fitted prior to Lockdown 2.0 could still be worn in a public place; aka the return of the turn up and play sessions for Chargers.

The days earlier rain had cleared and the temp rose to a tropical 4°. The creaking of joints moving for the first time since Halloween Trick or Treating  could be heard as the warm-up commenced. The red team fielded a team mostly wearing red (Pete / James – it’s not that hard) with the black team, as pointed out by Becci P, looking ‘cooler’. Play commenced and both teams showed signs of a post lockdown hangover, with rustiness and simple mistakes resulting in a scoreless first 5 minutes. However it was the black team who broke the deadlock with Harry scoring on the left wing. The red team struck back straight away with Sammy scoring out on the right wing after some good driving and a final pass from Pete (wearing grey).

The black team were next to score, Rob diving in from link with an assist from veteran Cropper. In what was turning out to be a seesawing affair, the red team hit straight back with Luke Lawrence, who could sidestep you in phone booth, taking a pass from James (wearing grey) to score their 2nd try.

This was followed by 2 quick tries for the black team with Cropper touching down for a simple score after great driving by Harry and Hugh, and then Luke Hickson scoring a solo try down the right wing.

1/3 time and black team leading 4 – 2. Soon after the commencement of the 2nd period, Cropper sauntered in for his 2nd score of the night taking the black team out to a 3 score lead. Questions about his ability to select evenly match teams were soon quashed as the red team an in the next 4 tries; Kenny, making his Wednesday night debut dived in after some great lead up work by one of the lads in grey, followed by scores to Jonny cutting in from the left wing, then a great dive from Jo (who had earlier made 2 try saving touches).

The 4th of these scores came with some controversy; James, scooping and getting over the try line then slipped. However, he kept his composure, managed to stay the right side of the dead ball line and popped up a pass to Sammy, who juggled, slipped, but in the referees opinion, kept control of the ball to ground it cleanly. Questions were asked, but with no TMO available, the score was given.

The black team pulled one back through Rob just before the break, bringing the scores to 6 apiece.

With all to play for in the last section, it was the red team who took the initiative with some great hands on the left from Kenny, to Pete to an unmarked Victoria to casually dot the ball down. Black hit back with a great score by Beth, leaving 2 defenders looking at each other saying ‘yours’, ‘no yours’ as she dived between them like a Bondi shark. With the game still balanced on a knife edge, the red team stepped up when it counted with Kenny diving in for his 2nd score of the evening followed by Pete, standing on the left wing wondering where he left his red shirt, taking the pass to score and put daylight between the teams. However, the black team weren’t giving in. Rallied by captain Pearce, Bruce ran the short line chop to score a try to bring it back to a 1 score deficit.

With the clock ticking down and one final set to even the scores, the black team drove the length of the pitch. Last play was called, the ball was fired out to Paul Ashton on the wing, however the pass, down at his bootlaces, defenders converging, couldn’t be taken. Full time blown by the excellent referee (glasses not needed) and the red team clinging on for a thrilling 9 – 8 victory. Bring on post lockdown 2.0 game #2 next Wednesday...

⚫️ Team Black ⚫️

Becci Pearce

Beth Redfern

Bruce Bailey

Dan Lomax

Gregg Cropper

Harry Thompson

Helen McGartland

Hugh Spencer

Luke Hickson

Paul Ashton

Rob Crawford

Stefan Redfern

🔴 Team Red 🔴

Alex Wood

Becky Ashton

James Simons

Jo Devine

Jonny Gill

Ken Sio

Luke Lawrence

Pete Bowyer

Sammy Kiernan

Victoria Kini

🟡 Team Ref 🟡

Paul Riordan

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