LYMM RUFC – The thrills and spills of a remarkable season
Some of you may be aware that the first team analyse their weekly performance by distributing a ‘Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ email around to all of the members of the squad. This unemotional, evaluation of each game, offers them the opportunity to recognise what went well, what didn’t really work and also highlights the issues that they believe were not acceptable. This email used to be written by the coaching staff, however a recent masterstroke was to pass the responsibility on to the team by designating a different player to write it each week. This subtle decision has created an open forum for which the squad can be self-critical and address their weaknesses at training, without the presence of egos.
At this point, I must admit that I went against tradition and approached Fletch for a ‘Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ to help me to write a review of the season. I should not have been surprised by the response, but his reply for the ‘Ugly’ section summed up the whole season in three short sentences. “None whatsoever. Boys have been awesome all season. Couldn’t be prouder”. A sentiment that I’m sure everybody at the club agrees with.
So, I decided to bin the ‘Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ idea and chose to write an article that reflected on the ups and downs of an amazing season for Lymm. Fletch gave me his thoughts as to what these were and the pubs of Lymm have offered us supporters our own open forum to discuss the team’s fortunes as well. It is hard to sum up all of the season’s thrills and spills in one piece of writing but I will try my best. Here goes:
* Being in a genuine promotion battle
It has been eight years since our club can genuinely lay claim to being in a promotion battle. This time around, it was in a higher league and with only a few games left, the dream was still a possibility. Amazing achievement and it certainly kept the supporters on the edge of their seats.
* Wins against Hull, Rossendale and Harrogate. All away from home.
When we blew Hull and Rossendale away by half time, people started to realise that our start to the season was more than just a good start. Lymm had an excellent side and we were going to be in a promotion battle. People now expect Lymm to turn teams over in the sunshine but to be 0-26 up after forty minutes at the Marl Pits and to defeat a heavy Harrogate in even heavier conditions demonstrated that we had more than tricks and sidesteps in our team.
* Style of play
Although Lymm have always tried to play the game in the right way, this team seemed to be more organised and more explosive in the way that they dismantled the opposition. As I understand it, a new shape was introduced and this created more space and more support runners. The results were astonishing and some of the tries that were scored were the best that this club has ever seen. We also have the second highest points for total in the league. Pep Guardiola would be proud.
* Defensive record and attitude towards training
What can I say about the defense? Unbelievable. The saying goes that it’s the not the size of the dog but the size of its bite and we have torn some almighty chunks out of the opposition this year. We have one of the lightest squads in the league but we have hunted in packs and chopped their big boys down, time and time again. We have the second best defensive record in the league and if it wasn’t for the slip up against Ilkley, Lymm would be top. To defend like we have, week after week is a testament to the mentality of the lads and the supporters have loved every minute of it. Our style of play and defensive record can only be achieved through hard work on the training field and Fletch and Millers have spoken so highly of the lads in this respect.
* 2nd team success
The second team is no longer a graveyard for aging first teamers. It is a thriving pool of talented youngsters and an environment that provides them with an opportunity to learn and prepare for their opportunity at first team level. Not only have they supported the success of the first team but they have also won their own their own league, playing some exceptional rugby in the process. Well done to Peter and all the lads involved.
* Chris and his medical team
Lymm always said that if they were to compete at the top end of the league, we needed to keep our players fit all season. Chris and his team have been the first to achieve this and the affect that this has had on the team is unmeasurable. I remember asking Fletch if I could go and see him after pulling my calf shortly before a half marathon. He treated me as if I was the starting fly half! It cannot be underestimated how important a good medical team is and in Chris, Lymm have one of the best. Outstanding.
* Losing momentum after Christmas
It was only going to get harder when teams realised that they shouldn’t bother trying to play rugby against us. They knew that they couldn’t compete on that level and rightly so, they began preparing a different game plan. As the weather deteriorated and the ‘Beast from the East’ reared its ugly head, it also made the task harder for our lighter lads. Both losses to Ilkley and losing to our local rivals Wirral, were the hardest for boys in green and black to take.
* The second half against Preston
Maybe the first half should have been added to the ‘thrills’ section of this article but the second half certainly deserves its rightful place in the ‘spills’. Whoever you are playing, to be up 29-12 at half time and at home, should probably be enough to see you finish the game as victors. I didn’t see the game but I’d guess that the lads would do some things differently if the situation arose again. It’s all a learning curve and I’m sure we learnt a few lessons from that collapse. I did go to the away match at Preston, where we lost Olly Higginson early on in the game. After that unfortunate incident, Lymm hardly won a scrum or line out but still managed a bonus point. So overall, we took three points away from our two games with the league leaders and that is no easy task.
To summarise, it has been the most exciting season for many years and the rugby that has been played has surpassed any that I can remember. Once again, we have moved forward as a club and we are feared, across all age groups across all of the north. Every Lymm team, from the mini and juniors up have been a credit to the club and the village. We have seen many successes and some wonderful displays of skill, respect and hard work. It has been a pleasure to watch and I’m sure all the supporters would like to echo Coach Fletcher’s words.
Boys have been awesome all season. Couldn’t be prouder.
Bring on next year.