Features - 06/01/2007
By Peter Thompson
No more jet lag for the Seconds...
Sitting in Stansted Airport in the early hours of Saturday morning, gazing at the bright red "Delayed" notice, isn’t my idea of utopia, but my weary head was later lifted in the afternoon on hearing the 4-4 draw attained by the Green Machine’s second-string in Newry. Not being there to enjoy it was unfortunate, but after speaking to the majority of regular players, I feel that we have something to look forward to as the last third of the season awaits.
I was most pleased to hear that we came back from being behind twice to snatch a point from the cradling arms of Newry’s 4th XI, and while we must play every game seeking a win, I was proud that our lads could pull back the score in that way and get a well-deserved point. Acting captain, David Kerr, said that he was "heartened" by the performance, and that is a sentiment I share as well.
In defensive stalwart Iain Foster’s words, "something has clicked". The team has begun to play with a sense of togetherness that was rather forlorn in the season’s earlier stages, and it is this team effort that is absolutely crucial to us as we play our remaining four league games.
To give a rundown of the situation, we are tied with North Down in the relegation spot. Our remaining fixture palette, in my view, is easier than theirs, and so it would be very disappointing not to come away with more points than they, thus securing our place in Junior 6 for another year.
Our remaining league matches see us playing Harlequins(H), Bangor(A), Banbridge(A) and Instonians(H). The situation is very simple: unless we go to every one of these games with a view to WIN, we will suffer the ultimate disappointment. We have been unlucky to beat the majority of these teams in the past, and our currently well-knit state along with favourable fixtures gives us absolutely no excuse to lose. (Obviously we have cup matches as well, but we must take these one step at a time. We have a number of free dates and I am in the process of trying to get friendlies organised).
As is frequently said, get out to training every week from now until the end of the year. We only need to give absolute commitment until the beginning of March and we will see the benefits as we end the season a much-improved side. We have a clear agenda to work on now during training; we all know what needs to be done; it is only a matter of ironing out these creases and telling ourselves that we can win. By not going to training (unless there is a valid excuse, obviously), you are letting your teammates down when we can’t work on set-plays, such as short corner tactics, and fix mutual mistakes. If there has ever been a time to attend training and work hard on staying in the league, this is it.
Henry David Thoreau once said that "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." Guys, for the next couple of months we are definitely fishing for the fish. It is impossible to predict how many points we will need to stay up; it could be one, or several. If, at the end of this season, we look back and say that in our last four games we achieved everything we could, and gained all the points we deserve, then we can’t complain about relegation; indeed we won’t need to, because if we do what I’ve said then I can completely assure you that we will not get relegated.
As legendary Packers’ former coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."
And for the remainder of the year, it is well and truly waiting to be caught.