It was a very early start for the Rovers on a very cold and foggy Sunday morning. As the Rovers commenced their warm-up exercises the fog began to lift, but for some of the parents who attended the Rovers 90th Birthday celebration the fog would take much longer to lift. The home team did not seem to warm-up at all, which maybe had something to do with the numerous electric heaters in the home dressing room as opposed to the visitors dressing room which had doughnuts! Tommy E and Owen were declared captains for the day and our runner Marty mentioned it was our coach’s birthday. When asked how old the coach was, Marty guessed “around 25 or 26”, he must have had a very short paper round. A special pre-match welcome was given to our 5 Hampton Rovers helpers from the other teams Ollie, Nic, Spencer, James and Charlie M – what a club!
Quarter 1 started with Hudson D-E having some great touches, runs and marks in the middle. Charlie M was also involved in some great passages of play, one of which led to Spencer bagging the Rover’s first point of the game. Tommy E and Hunter were both involved in some great flowing moves for the Rovers, but the opposition also managed to bag a couple of 1 pointers in an even 1st Quarter. Quarter 2 began on a similar even keel, with Rovers and East Malvern involved in an end to end running game to try to beat the cold. Hunter scored the 1st goal for the Rovers and then Archer scored a 2nd goal with the opposition returning fire as the game ebbed and flowed. The parents continued to support their kids unconditionally from the sidelines despite the onset of frost bite!
Half time was spent with the coach re-focusing the Rovers players after switching off towards to end of Q2. Unfortunately, the oranges did not have the desired effect as the opposition broke clear of the Rovers in an action-packed Quarter 3. Josh had a great tackle and kick and then Hudson VdV kicked a great 6 pointer. This was followed by fantastic goal from Big Ernie which was duly followed by a soccer style celebration which would not be out of place at the Theatre of Dreams (Old Trafford). At the Q3 break the new “rainbow” snakes were introduced much to the delight of the frozen team members who were now ready for the final quarter. Carter, Owen, Jack, Fraser and Thomas B were all putting their bodies on the line, but there was one Rover who went over and above the call of duty in Ethan who proceeded to throw his body in where it hurt time and time again. The final siren sounded to bring to an end a game played in great spirit despite the bitterly cold temperatures.
As the Rovers started to warm-up in the dressing rooms, the team sang the Happy Birthday song to Sam as the “borrowed” Rovers were thanked for their huge contribution to the team. The club song was not required, but many of the parents/players/officials had already started dreaming about warmer sunnier days and being able to belt out the line from the Hampton Rovers song “oh I do like to be beside the seaside….”