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Tomorrow it is Caldy’s last home fixture of the 23/24 season at Paton Field against Cambridge RFC will be a splendid and memorable occasion for a host of reasons with the first being the opportunity to welcome our friends from Cambridge back to Paton Field.

The two sides last met at Paton Field in February 2022 when the Ravers eked out a 9-0 win through the boot of Ben Jones. Cambridge were one of a clutch of sides including Sale FC and Rosslyn Park in the promotion mix that season. The narrow reverse at Paton Field stalled the ‘Blood & Sand’s momentum and spurred Caldy’s eventual promotion to the Championship in the 21/22 season. Cambridge’s promotion at the end of last season was well deserved after another thrilling and fantastically close National 1 title race with Rams and Sale FC.

With fine weather very much on the cards for Saturday, Caldy’s famous bank will be a great vantage point to enjoy both the sun and what is sure to be a highly competitive and entertaining game. Caldy’s bank has been a feature of Paton Field for decades but through the vision, indefatigable commitment and tireless effort of Bob Cook and the support of Gary Devaney and Mark Loughran the bank was massively extended during the Covid years.

After Caldy’s historic win 13-9 against Sale FC in front of 3,500 supporters in late April 2022 Caldy’s bank was subsequently dubbed ‘JJ’s Bank’. Caldy supporters acknowledge and appreciate the accolade to Caldy’s captain, JJ Dickinson, but may not be aware how this ‘Henman Hill’ type moniker transpired.

As Caldy’s Director of Rugby Gareth Davies explains it was not from the emotional outpouring by ecstatic Caldy’s supporters but rather its genesis had occurred far earlier that season.

“The 2021/22 National 1 season didn’t start well for the Ravers. After winning every game in National 2 North pre Covid, our first couple of games in National 1 brought us down to earth with a bump.Defeat at Cinderford was followed by a 24-0 thumping at Paton Field at the hands of Birmingham Moseley. What was worse it was our Past Players Day, and this truly dire team performance was played out in front of 300 or so knowledgeable former players. Everyone was less than euphoric! However, 1st xv captain JJ Dickinson was still optimistic for the season ahead and after a few consolation beers he confidently told me we would win National 1!

JJ’s response to me telling him he was delusional was to double down on his crazily confident prediction with the rejoinder that if promotion was achieved, he expected the bank to be named JJ’s Bank!

On Saturday, the supporters on JJ’s Bank can help celebrate scrum half Chris Pilgrim’s last home game for Caldy as unless someone (possibly called Barrie) can persuade him otherwise this top-class player will be hanging up his boots at the end of the season.

Another reason to celebrate tomorrow is this season’s outstanding success of Caldy’s 2nd xv. Under the leadership of coaches Andrew Soutar and Christian Jones the team has won the Cotton Traders Premiership league accumulating 131 league points out of a possible 132, and last weekend winning the Cotton Traders Cup 36-0 at Kendal’s Mint Bridge ground against a strong Chester side. The Cup success brings the unbeaten run to an extraordinary 99 games but Sooty is more pleased with the continuing development of the squad and its ability to provide a pathway to Championship level rugby. “More than a dozen lads from the 2nd xv squad have stepped up to the Championship squad during this season and since the end of the Senior Colts’ season 7 players from that squad have enjoyed game time with the 2nd xv.”

Sooty and CJ continue to maintain the conveyor belt of Young Ravers progressing through to Caldy’s senior side and with their 2nd xv season having ended they can enjoy the Ravers v The Blood & Sand at Paton Field.

Head Coach Matt Cairns has selected the following squad for Saturday’s 1st XV Championship home fixture at Paton Field against Cambridge which kicks off at 3 pm.

  1. A. Aigbokhae
  2. O. Hearn
  3. N. Rushton
  4. T. Sanders
  5. M. Gerrard
  6. S. Olyott
  7. T. Woodman
  8. C Ridgway
  9. C. Pilgrim
  10. R. Hayes
  11. W. Robinson
  12. M. Barlow
  13. C Wilkinson
  14. N. Royle
  15. M. Kilcourse
  16. M. Gallagher
  17. J. Sproston
  18. C. Atkinson
  19. M. Weatherby
  20. C. Booth
  21. O. Wynn
  22. M. Cartmill
  23. L. Barker

Community Rugby
Our Minis, Juniors, Girls & Colts season ended last weekend on a high at the Hoylake Festival,
plus winning the Cheshire u14 Bowl Final & jointly winning the Cheshire u15 Bowl Final – huge congratulations to all involved.

Caldy Community Rugby wishes to thank all our clubhouse bar & catering team, all our LOSW grounds team, Senior coaching team, physio’s & medics, officers & committee members, sponsors, fundraisers, army of volunteer coaches, managers, admin, referees & first aiders, touring & visiting clubs, various rugby festival organiser’s, all our parents & players for all your support & help to make it such a successful & memorable Centenary Season.

Also a very special thank you to our Chair, Lynn Ridgway, who is stepping down at next month’s AGM after many, many successful seasons creating our flourishing Community Rugby section. Lynn has been an outstanding Chair & is the epitome of a leader, volunteer, sponsor, supporter & parent at Caldy RFC.

Please come along to Paton Field / JJ’s Bank to support Caldy tomorrow & help us raise the roof for our last home game of the Championship.

Good luck & enjoy the rugby !

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