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Friday Feeling – 28th January 2022

The Ravers are off on their travels to Darlington Mowden Park RFC. The 18th match of this season’s National 1 campaign is a short 160-mile coach run to Darlington which will seem even shorter as the squad and travelling officials grapple with another excellent quiz from Ben Jones.

Caldy officials generally perform well when answering general knowledge questions about pre-war politics or the 1974 British Lions tour but struggle a little with questions about Tik-Tok or Rag’n’bone man. They rarely win but when they do, they are justifiably proud, but always acknowledge the contribution by Adam Aigbokhae who has invariably answered every single music question for them.

After coffee and cake, and for the officials a small tonic or pick me up, it is generally only a few miles to the opposition’s ground and the tingle starts.

One of the joys of National 1 rugby lies in the mix of clubs with their individual histories, ambitions and of course their settings and their clubhouses.

The contrast between Caldy’s Paton Field with its 80-year-old little wooden shack and Darlington Mowden Park’s 25,000 all seater Northern Echo Arena is probably just about as extreme as it gets in sport.

Arriving at DMP’s ground is disorientating and first-time visitors from Caldy should be prepared for what may feel like an out of body experience. Caldy’s April Evans knows just how discombobulating it can be.

Picture: Courtesy of Darlington Park RFC

April’s first visit in autumn 2017 to cheer on the Ravers was memorable. At most grounds moving around the clubhouse and its environs is easy enough but for April the Northern Echo Arena was a challenge. Eschewing the lifts and escalators April tried to navigate from pitch side to the corporate boxes without the aid of GPS or even an Ordnance Survey map.

She only wanted a drink and the company of the small Caldy contingent clearly enjoying their time in one of the splendid executive boxes. But muckle canny lads in high viz jackets, long dark corridors, countless steps, doors without handles all eventually led our April to emerge outside of the stadium about a half mile from where she started!

April’s detailed account of her difficult and protracted journey through the bowels of the stadium has been selected as the script for the first episode of the 2022 remake of the 1967 cult TV series ‘The Prisoner’.

Tomorrow April and her friend Shirley are returning to the Northern Echo Arena.

However, the Last of the Summer Wine’s poster girl and her friend are going better prepared. 400 metres of string, a 10,000-lumen torch and a couple of high viz jackets (to enable them to blend in with canny lads Number 4 and Number 5.) could come in handy.

April and Shirley will need some luck as will Caldy.

In 13 matches between the sides in the National leagues the Ravers have only won three times and only once away from home.  Last week DMP ran league leaders Rosslyn Park close, leading 14-20 at half time they eventually were unlucky to leave the Rock with a 28-20 loss.

Whatever the result it is certain that on the 160-mile coach trip home all the ‘Ravers’ will live up to their name and their motto ‘WOLWAOTB’

Head Coach Matt Cairns has selected the following squad for the away fixture against Darlington Mowden Park which kicks off at 3.00 p.m. at the Northern Echo Arena

1.Aigbokhae 2. Hearn 3. Rushton 4. Dickinson S 5. Sanders T 6. Crowe 7. Ridgway 8. Dickinson JJ 9. Murray 10. Hinchcliffe 11. Royle 12. Barlow 13. Titherington 14. Jones B 15. Gourlay 16. Clarke 17. Higginson 18. Jones D 19. Gerrard 20. Cartmill

Caldy’s record breaking 2nd xv are at home against Blackburn with a 2 pm kick off at Paton Field. If you cannot get to Darlington, do come to Paton Field to give the 2nd xv all the support you can against Blackburn.

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