It was always going to be a stiff test today because Sharlston Rovers are a long-established club. Founded around 1881, they won their first cup in 1895 (The Wakefield and District Cup) and have an impressive record of winning and producing professional players, including three winners of the Lance Todd Trophy.
Outlaws were founded in 1999. We won a few things, notably the Harry Jepson Trophy in 2008. I say “we”, though my role in the victory was confined to a bit of light spectating and the offering of advice to the match officials, who completely ignored me.
Despite the lack of history and pedigree we didn’t look too bad for most of the time.
It’s hard playing Rugby League in Yorkshire, because they grow up playing it, where most of the Outlaws come to it via Rugby Union. The two games may seem similar, but they are quite different in places and it sometimes shows.
There are other differences, but this might not be the time or place to mention my views on Yorkshire Rugby League.
We arrived about ten minutes late to find that the skies were blue and Outlaws were in the lead. Neither would last.
First the rain came, then Sharlston equalised. We scored again, but missed the kick, and when Sharlston scored again they nailed the kick to lead by two points.
We exhibited a certain amount of defensive frailty, as they say and fell six more points behind. At that point the crowd started to relax and the whining stopped (there’s nothing as whiney as a Yorkshireman under pressure).
This proved to be the story of the second half too, as our continuing defensive troubles allowed Sharlston in a couple more times. We kept them under pressure and forced several schoolboy errors, like a long pass to the wing that went into touch. Embarrassing.
Having played RL in Yorkshire for several years Number Two son clapped that error in a display of Yorkshire sportsmanship. He knows how to twist the knife.
The best part of the day was seeing one of our players make his First Team debut. He started as an Under 9 and Number One son used to coach him. It was worth the trip just to see that and hear Number One son say “I’m feeling very old now”.
I know that feeling.
It was a trip down memory lane for Number Two son too. During his Yorkshire playing days he’d been carded by today’s ref and been in a fight with one of the Sharlston players (who was then playing for Featherstone Lions).
I am such a proud parent.
Final score 26 – 10. It was closer than the score suggests for most of the match.