Lassie's lunch and a mayhem of Clyde-Smiths as Jersey go to
In a week that has seen Jersey fans debating the merits of a new
limited edition team shirt, the phrase 'dog's breakfast' has sprung
to some people's minds. The job for Ben Harvey's squad this weekend
is to avoid becoming an afternoon meal for the cornered Barking
The home team are in said corner because they have won just five
of their 24 games and lie bottom of National One. Barring some
freak-show mathematics - not that it's a freak-show I'd pay to see
- a loss to Jersey will signal the end of the line: relegation for
Barking just 10 months after promotion was almost theirs.
If current form was the be-all-and-end-all, the referee would
blow the whistle at 2pm on Saturday, and then again straight
afterwards to signal 'no contest.' Jersey have won 18 'on the
spin' and take on a side who have lost 13 of their 14
And yet... and yet... [stop repeating yourself... stop
repeating yourself... Web Ed] it's very clear that on their
day, the Dogs can beat anyone. They've done the double over Fylde,
for goodness sake, and in October they lifted their legs on the
bonfire of Ealing's nine-match unbeaten start to the season.
The chance to stave off relegation, and add Jersey to the list
of leading clubs they've disposed of, should mean there's little
motivational talk needed in the home dressing room before the game.
But there'll nevertheless be some geeing up, not least from skipper
Andrew 'Hendo' Henderson, who will be busting to impress against
the team he left last summer after contributing significantly to
the promotion-winning campaign of 2010/11.
News from the Jersey camp
Jersey set off on Friday evening for an 'old-school' one-night
trip to London, buoyed by the return of some significant injury
Lock Toby Clyde-Smith, who sustained an ankle injury in August
that became so serious it almost wiped out his season, made a brief
appearance against Blaydon at the weekend and is set to start
against Barking, while younger brother Charlie may earn a rare
start at hooker ahead of Dave Felton.
Among the backs, scrum-half Nicky Griffiths is back in
contention, and so too Mikey Le Bourgeois, who could play a part
from the bench. Both players were injured against Ealing on the
first Saturday in January, having had mixed seasons up to that
point: Griffiths started the first four games of the campaign, but
was then side-lined through a wrist injury and played just an
hour's rugby in two sub appearances, while 'Le Booj' had played
every game bar one at that stage and kicked the 142 points that
still keep him fourth in the division rankings even after seven
Otherwise than accommodating the above changes, the squad should
be little changed from last Saturday's match against Blaydon, which
the Islanders eventually won 28-7 after trailing at half-time. The
contest included two trade-marks of the Jersey campaign to date:
the early concession of a try - 11 of a total of 34 conceded have
come within 10 minutes of kick-off - and a late bonus point - the
sixth time the bonus has been secured in the final 15 minutes.
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey's biggest selection headache comes
at scrum-half where Griffiths, Dave McCormack and Brendan O'Brien
are all fit and available; Harvey would like to have something
approaching this wealth of resources in other positions.
Any previous? Remember, remember...
Barking's Bonfire Night visit to Jersey saw something of a game of
two halves. The visitors scored early through Chris Ashwin's try
from a rare James Copsey error, but Jersey's full-back atoned with
a try of his own, to add to a Sanders' effort, to make it 20-7 at
The game was broken open by three tries in 10 minutes after the
break, two for Guy Thompson and one for Le Booj, and though Barking
rallied slightly with catch-and-drive tries by Burns and Dwyer, the
hosts recovered to claim the final two tries of a lively afternoon.
Final score 51-21 in front of 1,876 people at St Peter.
Teams from Nov 5 were: Jersey: Copsey, Maggs, Bishop, Sanders,
Dawson, Le Bourgeois, McCormack, Landick, Clyde-Smith, Evans,
Hannay, Brownrigg, O'Brien S, Thompson, Bell (capt). Replacements:
Brennan, Trower, Turner, O'Brien B, Lang.
Barking: Nelson, Broughton, Henderson (capt), Burcham, Hardy,
Ashwin, Gash, Mullins, Bloomberg, Ambrose E, Burns, Smith, Ngan,
Reynolds, Dwyer. Replacements: Ambrose F, Kavanagh, Kersey, Davey,
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. They also contested the
short-lived RFU Championship for Level Four against 2N winners
Macclesfield, but lost 30-26 at Twickers.
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
[warning - Barking types are about as fond of discussing this
incident as members of the Jersey committee are about chatting
about the five-point deduction last October. I'd stick to the
weather if I was you].
Barking in 2011/12
The near-miss last May (he says, breaking his own recommendation
within 60 seconds of typing it) was described by some at
Barking as a blessing in disguise. "The team may have been up to
The Championship, but I'm not sure about the rest of the club
was..." was a typical comment.
Blessing or not, there were certainly some significant changes
soon after the season ended, with Alex Codling moving to London
Scottish as Forwards Coach and a large number of players leaving
Goresbrook for pastures new.
The Dogs struggled to regroup in time for the August start, and
although they defeated an equally under-cooked Blaydon on the Bank
Holiday weekend, September featured four straight defeats.
October was a purple patch, with wins over Fylde, the Bees and
Ealing, but the defeat in Jersey marked the start of the current
grim run. The only 'W' since the clocks changed was the 20-19
success over Fylde in January, courtesy of a Steve Hihetah try and
five penalties, including a nerveless late winner, from Craig
Last weekend the Dogs crossed London looking to secure a double
over Ealing, but finished well-beaten in an 11-try Barbarians-style
romp at Vallis Way. It was 28-7 to the Trailfinders after 29
minutes; 20 minutes later they led 35-34! After 10 scoreless
minutes, the longest spell of the game, Ealing stretched clear with
a burst of tries to finish 59-34. Hihetah and flanker Tom
Yellowtrees both claimed two tries.
One of Barking's stand-out players has been 'Hendo' in the
centre - after playing 29 out of Jersey's 30 games in 2010/11 he
has played all 24 matches for his new club, scored nine tries and
earned selection for the England Counties squad facing Ireland next
Try-scoring has been one of the problems for the Dogs, with
no-one other than Hendo claiming more than five. Chris Ashwin has
been leading kicker with 138 points, augmented by 36 from Ratford,
who was top-scorer with 277 points in 2010/11.
Winger Charles Broughton has played 23 games this season, but
around half of the 20-man squad who came to Jersey are unavailable
for the return match. Front-rowers Ed Ambrose and Sean Mullins
should feature from the touring party, plus flanker Sam Reynolds,
while the return from injury of James Ngan is significant - the
flanker is the only one of six players selected for England
Counties' duty last season still at Goresbrook and could bring the
sort of open-side skills that Guy Thompson - now injured -
displayed for Jersey on November 5.
* Famous Barking Old Boys are former President Jason Leonard OBE
(England and British & Irish Lion) and Kris Chesney (Saracens,
England Sevens & Toulon). Famously-good tourist that he is,
Jason was over in November with Barking and set such a fearsome
pace on the red wine on the eve of the game that Jersey Chairman
Bill Dempsey was almost declared missing-in-action the following
* 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 front row players, have
each received red cards so far this season, against Fylde and the
* Barking's 17 cards this season is a total exceeded by only one
club - Jersey (one red, 17 yellow)
* Barking's bench is, in terms of tries, the least impactful in
the league. Only two tries have been claimed by replacement Dogs,
although the dodginess of this stat is illustrated by the fact that
this figure is shared by title contenders Ealing
* Jersey 2s beat Barking 19-15 at St Peter in November, avenging
a sound thrashing at Goresbrook the previous season
* The club's programme is edited from around 2,000 miles away by
a former President who is now based in Rhodes and involved with the
local team Rodos Colossi.
As the season moves to a close, we'll keep you posted on our main
promotion rivals, Ealing and Fylde, who are currently eight points
adrift of JRFC.
Ealing, above Fylde on points difference (+224 against +169,
both having 86 points and 16 wins), beat Barking last weekend, the
game is described above. They travel to struggling Cambridge this
Saturday, and then it's: Tyne (h); Macc (a); Cov (h), Fylde (a) and
Fylde had a high-scoring game of their own last Saturday,
recovering from 23-10 down after 43 minutes to score six tries
in half an hour and win 48-10. They are away at Cov on Saturday,
and the rest of the run-in is: Rosslyn P (a); Bees (h); Blackheath
(a), Ealing (h) and Jersey (a).
Following the game
Those who can't make it to East London this weekend needn't lose
touch with the build-up to Jersey v Barking, and the action on
Saturday from 2pm. Options for keeping tabs include:
* Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's 'Sportscene' from 6- 7pm on
Friday, and live updates on Saturday afternoon (available online
and on the 'wireless')
* Preview in Friday's JEP and full match coverage on Monday
* Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter, the club's
increasingly-popular Facebook site, and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
* Match report on Channel 103 soon after the final whistle
* Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online.
Some other important fixtures this weekend:
* Jersey 2nds entertain Cardiff side St Peter's, at St Peter
(spooky) on Saturday at 12noon
* The match will be followed by Six Nations on the big screens.
All Italian supporters are urged to come up for the game v Wales at
2.30pm to ensure the home side aren't drowned out; Italian family
ancestry not necessary, you just have to have eaten spaghetti,
driven a Fiat or consumed the qualifying standard of two Peronis
during the past 12 months; while at 5pm it's Ireland v Scotland
* On Sunday, Jersey United Banks play HMP La Moye in the Doug
Tranter Plate at St Peter at 12noon. This is the first of the two
finals this season in the competition honouring JRFC's former
President, and his wife Sheila will hopefully be on hand to present
the trophy, after which it's France v England at 3pm
* And finally finally [I warned you; I warned you; Web
Ed], good luck to Jersey Under 11s who play Barking on
Saturday at 11.30 at Goresbrook in the curtain-raiser tomorrow.
Enjoy your weekend's rugby
09 Feb 2023
Venner lines up for debut after 51-week injury absence from the game