Esher Amateurs retain the Skull
The Skull and Goalposts is the trophy contested between Streatham-Croydon and Esher rugby clubs, with the 2013 game having taken place last Saturday.
The bizarre, and somewhat creepy, trophy dates back to 1962 during the era of entirely amateur rugby union, when there was no league system and “senior” clubs (ie. the bigger ones) worked their way through a season-long fixture list full of “friendly” matches and long-held grudges.
The intervening half-century has seen Esher and Streatham-Croydon’s fates vary greatly: Esher now play in the semi-professional second tier of English rugby, while the Frant Road, Thornton Heath-based club puts out it's first XV in lowly Surrey League 3.
Esher has maintained it's principal of offering rugby for all levels and have been known to still field seven teams in the same week.
But the The Skull and Goalposts fixture was revived two years ago to mark Streatham's 140th anniversary, with Esher taking on two of Streatham-Croydon's equivalent.
This year, both matches took place at Streatham.
Esher's chair of Amateur rugby Dick Towers, said, “While it is important that we continue to grow our professional rugby standing,it is absolutely imperative that the Skull stays in Esher and shows the strength of our Amateur set up.
“Playing for the Skull is a huge honour for any amateur Esher player, they will be following in the footsteps of many great players and will have the chance to be part of this club’s history. More importantly, they will be able to say they played for the Skull.”
The origins of this ghoulish prize are shrouded in mystery. A historian who has visited the club claims the skull could belong to someone of Asian descent, but Esher's Neil Harper is not so sure. He believes it could be the remains of Dai Evans from his previous life.
Streatham 27-24 Esher Priors
Esher Priors took on Streatham 1st team (who play 3 leagues higher) in honour of the Skull and pushed them all the way, despite a very brave effort they lost to the very last play of the match.
Captain Al Frater was very proud of the effort of his boy's on the day and is looking to take this commitment and form into the start of the league fixture against Twickenham 2's this Saturday.
Tries: Joe Baker, Jake Downs
Con: Simon Druce (2)
Penalty: Simon Druce (3)
Man of the match: Johan Vorster
James Plumeret, Ed Humberstone, Elgar St Marthe, Toby Bale, Jakob Vorster, Richard Hardy, Johan Vorster, Ben Bale, Jake Downs, Jim Sherlock, Joe Baker, Al Frater (capt), Herman Jacobs, Sam Hammond, Simon Druce
Subs : (all used) Will Hales, Joel Keefe, Nnamdi Obigwe, Tom Hart, Miles Hepburn, Ben Hughes.
Streatham 2's 0-48 Esher Expendables
With the Priors losing in the very last minute against Streatham 1's, the Expendables, in their first outing of the season, knew that nothing other than a victory by a clear score would be enough to ensure the Skull returned to Esher. Streatham were on average over 15 years a man younger than the Expendables, and were clearly up for the game to regain the hallowed trophy.
Straight from kickoff the Expandables used their experience and power advantage to ensure possession was denied from the speedy Croydon backs. The Eeeee's controlled the game and gained the upper hand in both the scrum and line outs.
Adam "tango" Pigott, playing in his first game since turning 50 during the off season, was playing at inside centre and almost missed kickoff due to a delay with his techno tan session.
Skipper Jeff "Big Bear" Smith went a full game playing in the front row without kicking or having a pass intercepted.
Ashley "spandex" Harman scoring his first senior try following an absence of over 15 years from senior rugby, Ashley got a rare start in the absence of his twin Elliot "plastic cop" trolley Dolley.
James "the Fijian" Tabusi starting the season off with a fine hat-trick from the back row.
Daniel Ferguson, Jeff Smith, Andrew Snowball, Geraint Thomasson, Jamie Robinson, James Tabusi, Mike "USA" Schmid, Mark Butterworth, Nick Zimmerman, Jez Best, Andy Williams, Adam Pigott, Ty Lawless, Ashley Harman, Ben Robinson, Chris Kean, Craig Capon, Toby Lawton, Paul Hegarty, Paul Hempenstall, Ben wright.
Tries: The Fijian (3) Spandex, Zimmerman, Williams, Schmid
Con : Jez Best (4)