Preview to Barking (h) 05.11.1102/11/2011
Dogs, Lions, the Bear and the Fun Bus
After dousing Ealing's unbeaten record last weekend, there's
little doubt the dogs of Barking would like nothing better than to
lift their legs on Jersey's bonfire at St Peter this
Following a run of five straight losses in September & 1st October the men from East London have enjoyed some stunning results of late. Three wins during October included a 31-18 away win at Fylde with 14 men, a late triumph against the Bees, and then the stunning defeat of Ealing with the runaway leaders downed 22-20 at Goresbrook.
The recent upturn has helped boost Barking's league position, which after the opening day success against Blaydon (28-26) had plummeted to the lower reaches of the table.
This preview is probably not the first to compare Barking with Millwall Football Club, a dozen miles away on the other side of the River Thames. 'No-one likes us, we don't care,' is the Millwall chant, and the same 'Stuff the lot of you' attitude seems to pervade at Goresbrook should any detractors rear their heads. It's not the prettiest ground, average crowds are the lowest in the division and compared to the other London teams in National One, Barking lack the history and status of Rosslyn Park and Blackheath, and the budget of Ealing. But the team have displayed real spirit in recent seasons, and those under-estimating them do so at their peril. These dogs have bite.
Jersey aim for five on-the-bounce
The home team are right to be wary, but at the same time will look to extend the winning run begun on October 8th to five games, ahead of the visit to Cambridge next weekend.
Head Coach, Ben Harvey appears to be enjoying the luxury of some settled squads. While Ross Broadfoot is likely to miss out following a shoulder injury at Blaydon last week (his last-minute try-saving tackle was in spite of this), the squad is likely to have a familiar look. Young Chris Levesley on the wing isn't yet a fixture, but has impressed sufficiently to be likely to gain a third successive start. Myles Landick was named man-of-the-match against Blaydon by the JEP, relishing his tussle with former Newcastle man Micky Ward, and may keep the Bear, Jon Brennan, caged on the bench until some stage in the second half.
Jersey 2nds will also be looking forward to a game against visiting opposition, with Barking 2nds joining the mini-tour and playing in the curtain-raiser at 12 noon.
Barking in 2011/12
Performances in the season to date have been largely summarised earlier. The main off-field development has been the departure on October 24th of Head Coach Martin Jones after just nine games with, as yet, no official explanation offered.
The player best-known to Jersey fans is Andrew Henderson, a key figure in midfield during 2010/11 (30 appearances, nine tries), released over the summer and inevitably cropping up in opposition colours. It's been a decent start for 'Hendo' with six tries and three penalties thus far. The tries included the winner against Bees and the opening score against Ealing. The others at the top of the scoring charts are Chris Ashwin (106 points) and Will Nelson (29).
Other new arrivals have included (with thanks to Fylde for the 'hard yards' research on this section): In the forwards: no 8 Phil Davies (Pau, Harlequins, Bayonne & Orrell); lock Dan Smith (Doncaster, Rotherham & Plymouth); backrower Liam Dwyer (Launceston); hooker Adrian Duncan (Cinderford); props Tom French (Wasps & Nottingham, with a player-coaching brief), Tim Kavanagh (Westcombe Park) & Joe Reid (Esher & Birmingham/S). And outside the pack: fly-half Chris Ashwin (Clifton, Bristol & Newbury); fullback Frankie Neale (London Scottish, Wasps & Blackheath); wing Charlie Broughton (London Scottish) & centre Marcus Burcham (Ealing Trailfinders).
Barking - a potted history
It all started in 1930 as Park Modern Old Boys. Park Modern was a rugby playing school in the borough and their first headmaster, Bill Easterby, Headmaster of Park Modern School in Barking, founded the club as Park Modern Old Boys in 1930. The club were based at the school grounds until the 1960s, and in 1974 the name changed to Barking Park, with the 'Park' dropped just two years later.
Goresbrook became home in 1989 and in 1994 the club attained National League status. In 2004-05 Barking won promotion to Level Three, although their stay lasted only two seasons, and underlined the need to make the most of home-grown players and live within their needs. One relegation nearly led to another, but National League status was preserved with a win at Mounts Bay on the last day of the 2007-08 season.
In 2008-09 Barking finished seventh, but also added a new stand and floodlighting and recruited ex-England (one-cap) international Alex Codling as Director of Coaching. The stage was set for 2009-10 when 26 wins from 28 games delivered automatic promotion and a return to National One/ Level Three.
Last season saw a titanic struggle with the moneybag Exiles from the other side of town. London Scottish lost some early games but launched a tenacious pursuit of leaders Barking, to the extent that the title, and promotion, was on the line when the two sides met at Goresbrook in early May. The rest is history, but anyone who missed it should read this - Barking went into the closing minute with a 13-10 lead against 14 Exiles following a yellow card, and only needed to keep possession to secure the title - and then click this.
* Famous Barking Old Boys are former President Jason Leonard OBE (England and British & Irish Lion) and Kris Chesney (Saracens, England Sevens & Toulon)
* The club has close links with Saracens, and in the other direction with the local Robert Clack School which acts as a feeder and is able to give opportunities to local youngsters
* Brothers Francis and Ed Ambrose, both props, have each received red cards so far this season, against Fylde and the Bees respectively
* Three players have played all 10 league games so far this season: Andrew Henderson, Charles Broughton and Dan Smith
* Within 10 days of the defeat by London Scottish in May, Barking DoR Alex Codling had been snapped up by the Exiles as Forwards Coach
* While the 1st and 2nd XVs visit Jersey this weekend, the 3rds are touring Rhodes next summer.
Following the game
Those who can't make it to St Peter this weekend needn't lose touch with the build-up to Jersey v Barking, and the action on Saturday from 3pm. Options for keeping tabs include:
* Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's 'Sportscene' from 6- 7pm on Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon
* Preview in Friday's JEP, the 'Inside Centre' pull-out on Saturday and full match coverage on Monday
* Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
* Match report on Channel 103 soon after the final whistle
* Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online.