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That friday Feeling – 5th January 2024

Many of you will receive this week’s Friday Feeling earlier than usual because Caldy’s hard working club secretary Tim Kilpatrick is unavailable tomorrow and he has conscientiously arranged for a Thursday evening mail out. There is a lot to talk about in this week’s Friday Feeling.

On 23 December 2023 the Ravers took on the Doncaster Knights in front of a passionate Paton Field crowd. Not only did the Ravers win against their full-time opponents they won with one of their best ever displays and with something to spare. The Ravers’ stellar performance against Doncaster Knights and last season’s wins against Ealing, Bedford and other full time sides weren’t flukes, they were borne out of decades of selfless dedication by a host of individuals that wanted to provide a platform for young people to give of their best. Just how well did they do!

The Caldy story is up there with the best in any sport, in any country and it deserves to be told and to be celebrated. It is not the Caldy way to single out individuals, it has been and continues to be a collective effort with much great service and contributiona by a large number of fantastic selfless people. However, when the rise of Caldy to the Championship is dissected there will be one name that will appear time and time again, as a player, as a leader and as a key commercial sponsor.

Gary Devaney’s influence and leadership has underpinned much of Caldy’s rise to National prominence. Featuring as a prop in the nineties it was Gary who railed against the decision to forfeit a cup match against the mighty Macclesfield. He had a view that Caldy should be the best it could be and that meant playing the best…….and he was oh so right. Like minded individuals coalesced around Gary’s vision and drive and Caldy went on a remarkable 30 year journey.

If the RFU has its way with its Premiership II franchise proposal the Ravers will be relegated back to the National Leagues regardless of the standard of their performances or their league position in the Championship. The Executive Management of the RFU clearly place infrastructure and branding above the inspirational example that clubs like Caldy and others have shown over very many years through selfless commitment, hard work, great leadership and encouragement by people like Gary.

Hopefully this autocratic outrage will be thwarted by the refusal of the Championship clubs to countenance the RFU’s proposals.

The game against Doncaster brought all of what Caldy is about together and showed everyone what Championship level rugby means to the Wirral.

With a number of injuries to senior players, Gareth Davies and Matt Cairns could have followed the route of many Championship clubs and called up reinforcements from Premiership side Sale Sharks. They chose instead to select 5 players who had spent most of the season in the 2nd xv. That Gareth Davies and Matt Cairns had the belief and confidence to make such a call is in no small measure down to the integrated nature of the senior squad and the brilliant track record of the 2nd xv led by Andrew Soutar and Christian Jones.

On Saturday Caldy’s remarkable 2nd xv take on Fylde at Paton Field in a double header of a game with both league points and a quarter final tie in the Cotton Traders’ Cup on the line. Games against Fylde are always fiercely contested and Saturday’s fixture will be no exception. Fylde have run into some great form in recent weeks culminating in a thumping win 40-18 point win over 2nd placed Sedgley Park.

In the last 20 years Caldy and Fylde have enjoyed an iconic derby style rivalry at both 1st xv and 2nd xv level with some surreal and special moments. No one who was present will ever forget the battle of  the kit men, or the game at the Woodlands against a Fylde side coached by Brian Ashton and featuring Billy Whizz himself who was marked out of the game by Caldy’s Andy Soutar. From the annals of 2nd xv antiquity there is one Fylde v Caldy 2nd xv fixture which always brings a rueful smile.

Fylde were riding high in the Cotton Traders league……Caldy less so! The Caldy 2nd xv were short of a hooker and a prop but a couple of ‘dream team’ heroes volunteered to step up. Mark Leat and Dave Russell were still in their 40s …..just! How hard could it be against kids?

The journey to Fylde was the only 2nd xv coach trip of the season for Caldy and for Fylde it was the last ever match featuring the old wooden club house before it was demolished to make way for a shiny new facility. As tactics and players were discussed en-route to the Woodlands, the colour started to drain out of Mark and Dave……it was clear this wasn’t going to be social rugby as they knew it and power and bulk would only take them so far.

A fast and furious game was not what Mark (AKA Running Brave) and Dave expected and it was clear that they were not in quite the same physical shape as the other front row ….one Gareth Davies! However, both the Dreamers put in a shift but Caldy were well beaten by a strong and athletic Fylde side. When it came to the post-match revelry, where all the barrels had o be consumed before the demolition of the Woodlands, Dave and Leaty tepped up and were superstars …..demolishing all Fylde’s drinking records ……only Deano came close!The Ravers’ motto “Win or Lose We are on The Booze “ was ever thus.

This weekend Caldy’s 2nd xv match v Fylde will be a high quality fast paced game with some of the stars of the future from both clubs showing the best of North West rugby. The game kicks off at 2 pm and if you bump into Gary Devaney please offer to buy him a drink….it is the least any of us can do.

Andrew Soutar and Christian Jones have selected the following provisional squad for Saturday’s Cup and League double header against Fylde which kicks off at 2pm at Paton Field.

1. R Higginson
2. J Ellam
3. E Sanderson
4. S Olyott
5. A Kelly
6. C Ridgway
7. N Davidson
8. L Cox
9. J Ainscough
10. L Barker
11. L Beer
12. S Cross
13. M Cartmill
14. W Robinson
15. B Cooke
16. J Ralph
17. R Lowndes
18. F Arista
19. T Parry
20. E Dale
21. J Murray
22. P Lewis
23. B Leek

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