Category: From The Plebs Table



Beef – note the ‘B’ – was the main course served at the final home pre-match
lunch of the season. At least it was for the majority of the large attendance and
it looked very nice.
Can’t say how it tasted, because it by-passed The Plebs Table and when lunch
was served to the four ‘Plebs’ it was Chicken – note the ‘C’. I saw in this a bad
omen. We had been relegated from ‘B’ to ‘C’ at the Plebs Table and I was
rather concerned that the letter ‘D’ for ‘doomed’ might be following…
Belshazzar’s feast, or the story of the ‘writing on the wall’ (Chapter 5 in the
Book of Daniel) came to mind, though in our case it was at this stage being
“writ metaphorically”.
I consulted with the Oracle. He was positive. We would win. I was, at least
partially, reassured.
However, by half-time the writing on the scoreboard seemed to herald the ‘D’
word and so it proved by full-time.
“What are you going to write about that…?” was a question raised during the
trudge towards whatever sustenance could be obtained within the club
I found it difficult to understand how, in the match a fortnight before, the Well
amassed 55 points but conceded almost the same this time against Belfast
Harlequins who were just one place above us but, in their performance had
belied their status amongst the bottom-placed occupants of Division 2B. They
were clinical in their destruction of the Well.
So I resorted to ‘engaging’ with the Northern people as to how their team
played to such a high standard.
Lo and behold — a story emerged about Ulster Rugby registering Academy
Players for AIL duties and providing assistance to Northern teams in need of
such at particular times of the season! As I assembled the nuance of what I
heard from more than one account, the Well could have been faced by seven
or eight Academy players. So club, amateur players from their working week,
faced semi-professionals.
This seemed to me like a ‘Backstop’- a word that has come into the general
lexicon these past months. In this case an Ulster Rugby ‘back-up’ that was
certainly a ‘back-stop’ for the Well at the final home match.
Defeats, with which we are unfortunately familiar this season, have to be
accepted and graciously so we did, but I can’t help feeling that in club rugby
this is a little unequal.

With one match to go at Sligo ‘R’ is now the letter of concern for ….
Let’s not despair…’ back/stop’ beaten we may be – but the focus should now
be on ‘back up’ for next season…….



The club house was very quiet …..
Where was everyone? Was this the rugby supporters’ incarnation of the Titanic tables – because there were none laid out for the pre-match lunch…. Had the towel not alone been ‘thrown-in’ – but removed from the premises?
There was, as always, an explanation – lunch was not being served, the elite of the club and of the visiting Galwegians were being entertained ‘off-site’ – that’s a term of modern description when things are moved away from base!
So, there was no Plebs Table and this missive comes to you from ‘bar side’ where one of the next arrivals was the Oracle who had some doubts initially about how the match against Galway Corinthians might go, but he was mollified by the team sheet and the news that this was the best team we had fielded for the season as many of those who had been injured were back. In the midst of imbibing pre-match sustenance, we became assured that this could be a better match than those we had lost “unluckily” and “by narrow margins” so we were all, in turn, mollified – that word means “anxiety appeased” – when the Orcale declared that we would win…..
Towards kick-off time the “elite” arrived at the premises from their pre-match off-site social gathering. The ‘Ocabulary’ – another form of dictionary, of the spoken variety, says of lunch: “It can also be called luncheon, but if it is you might be served watercress sandwiches and fruit salad, but a ‘plain old lunch’ might be burgers and fries at the diner.” It didn’t appear, from the ‘spirit’ of their interaction that they had had either, so a better repast was presumed… and, it was noted, that on neither side, were those who had attended that event discombobulated about the likely match outcome – that word means ‘upset’!
So, “mollified,” but not “discombobulated” we proceeded to our usual spot on the terraces and some became disoriented, others confused, others exhilarated, some declarations were heard of being “in Heaven” — suggestions were made – and put into effect – photographs of the scoreboard as it climbed ever upwards. Corinthians appeared to have a good team, but appearances can be deceptive. They threatened in attacks and at half-time there was a general feeling that things weren’t “too bad” – thought the Oracle said that we could have done better.
In the second-half the team did… the ‘Wow’ factor was inhaled as the scoreboard crept inexorably upwards and finished at 55-13.
“Unbelievable…” “What a match..” ..”A deserved win …” and many more comments….
“Up ‘em all” was sung with gusto as the team came off the pitch — wonderful to hear after so many tough afternoons….
And so the club house was no longer silent —- no Titanic atmosphere, though there was realism….a lot done, more to do, but let’s not engage in political axioms…..
It was even suggested that we might have “a pint of gloat…” not against the nice men from the West mind you…. But for the overcoming of so many misfortunes in marginal losses… And another time we’ll explain to the uninitiated about the “pint of gloat….”
Meantime, one wonders – as the next crucial match looms – did the off/site pre-match lunch-eon bring a lucky turn of fate?
Must consult the Oracle……



Not that we ‘look down’ on others from the Plebs’ Table, but there they were, gathered in front of us, a sight to behold – a table or two full of referees!

I could hardly contain my thoughts – I would have a ‘captive audience’ of those vital officials to expound to when I rose from the high stool at the Plebs’ Table to answer the call of our current President to be ‘guest speaker’ after lunch at what was the Past Presidents’ annual luncheon gathering. The referees were there prior to their own dinner later that evening.

My companions at the Plebs’ Table listened with due seriousness and attention to what might I should say to the referees and approved of recalling the comment of the great Welsh international Jonathan Davies, who said of rugby: “I think you enjoy the game more if you don’t know the rules…Anyway, you’re on the same wavelength as the referees…”

I wasn’t too sure whether they’d appreciate that so I added the comment of Ron Atkinson, the former English soccer manager and player: “The ref’s pocket is like a toaster… every time there’s a tackle… up pop’s a yellow card…”

Anyway, they took it in good spirits!

I’d made sure to speak after they’d had lunch and a few ‘imbibers’, not before lunch. Wise man me, previous experience in other circumstances! And I did make the point that they, like journalists of whom I am one, have something in common – they must achieve fairness and balance, if not objectivity!

It was, as always, a good lunch with enjoyable company and, though I had to limit my wine intake prior to speaking, I was copiously provided with sufficient by my Plebs’ Table companions thereafter!

I did try to keep speaking brief and to the point… explaining the difference between brevity and verbiage by pointing out that the Lord’s Prayer has 66 words, the 10 Commandments 179, the famous Gettysburg address 286 and the EU Regulation on the sale of cabbage – 26,911 words. There wasn’t any cabbage at the lunch, we’d never have read our way through it!

The Past Presidents were resplendent, a great gathering of well-dressed ‘Well men’ and blazers looking positively spiffing…. One gentleman at the Plebs’ Table said he hadn’t worn his blazer since 1978 – when it last fitted – and he’d wear it again when it fitted again!  Guess who?

Barnhall were the visiting team and their club officials were also resplendent in their blazers. From their ‘top of the league table’ place, there was some fear as to what would happen to the Well on the field of play, but former Presidents of our club told me that there could be a surprise. There was and nearly a big one because the Well played to the highest standard we’d seen this season, so it was acclaimed from the spectator terrace. Indeed, but for the wind which blew a Barnhall kick against an upright where it fell fortunately for them into their own hands at the line, but not for the Well and one throw-in, taken awry also by that bloody wind, there could have been that major surprise.

Unfortunately, we lost again on a 26-20 score and, though getting a bonus point, the teams above us won their matches and now we are faced with a sizeable points gap between us at the bottom and those above us. Disappointing and particularly for the team which put in a great effort.

But, as Sir Thomas Browne wrote – “To believe only in possibilities is not faith, but philosophy…” Perhaps we should be philosophical in these troubled times, for while we have faith in our team doing its best always and hope for possible wins and as they did their best against Barnhall and will do for the rest of the season without doubt, we can philosophise too – about the great club we have at the Well, about the difficulties which have been overcome in the past and will, with determination, be in the future… What we must have is belief in the club…..

So let’s be positive…..