End of Season review 2013-14
By Club Captain Ben Whateley-Harris
The curtain has almost come down on a season full of expectation, injury and near misses.
There have been highs, lows and incredible in-betweens.
New faces have brightened our pitch while sadly old faces have drifted away with the evening winds.
Highlights this year are without doubt being the only team to beat Upminster who ran away with the league and also beating Wansted with the last kick of the game.
Away from the senior team the veterans made a race comeback and in March it was the first time for seven years that Ongar had managed to get two teams out on the same day. A proud moment for our club and all credit must go to all the veterans and minis Dads involved who played a great spirited game and deserved more than the draw they got against Old Brentwoods.
The minis have been phenomenal and there are not enough superlatives to describe them. Therefore I will leave that section out otherwise I would be typing all day.
When the season started we were on a high from last year. We finished runners up to Basildon in both the league and the cup. Losing the merit cup final was a bitter pill to swallow but we leapt at this new league like a lion on a kill.
A new division with a few new faces and missing some old ones would be a learning curb and we decided that the best achievable outcome was to consolidate ourselves in this league.
We didn’t want a scrappy relegation battle on our hands. What we achieved blew those expectations out of hand and we ended up finishing 4th and unfortunately because of the multitude of injuries we had were unable to play the semi-finals in the play offs.
Ongar is a little club and we suffer when we lose players due to injury, retirement or random adventures in life. Sadly we lost many to injury this season and as the games mounted up so did the injury list.
Soon we were ringing round and trying to get any able bodied person to bolster our team.
Injuries especially in the front row almost decimated us at the beginning of the year.
Special mentions must go to Dave Blake who changed from a rampaging centre to a marauding hooker and saved us many blushes in the front row.
Sadly at the beginning of the season we lost last year’s player of the year Alan Elvin to a neck injury. Second row Tom Bristow’s knee injury prevented him from making a single appearance and we lost Josh Hull to a knee injury only ten seconds into an early season match.
Michael Blake dislocated his knee and had an eventful time in Southend general to add to our injury woes. Then Jon Browning then ended up on crutches.
Work commitments limited Martin Parker, Neil Springate, Matt Adcock and many others while the retirement of long term Hooker Andy Surrage limited out squad depth even more so.
We even lost the bearded wonder Dave Lewis to the wilds of Bristol and injury.
Young player of the year 2013 Jack Burton left for pastures new and can now be seen on youtube cage fighting!
Matt Dodd had commitments to the army and sadly we waved goodbye to Pete Hovell as he was bundled onto a convict ship and sailed to Australia.
It seemed that we were losing bodies to injuries faster than we could ever hope to recruit. But recruit we did.
New faces and youngsters who blooded their teeth last season shone for us.
Arthur Austin at ten gave some solid performances even if he is made of glass and more injury prone than others. Alex Spray returned to the fold and even brought his father in from the cold while Henry who is still just a baby is maturing with each game.
New faces such as Darren Fry and Ollie Peacock enthusiastically turned up and trained week after week and played as much as they could. They added power and pace. Darren caused many crunching tackles on his opposite number through the season and Ollie got better and better each game.
Dan Field and Josh Turrel jumped ship from Brentwood and came over. Dan playing at number 8 and adding aggression and skill.
Ronnie Plumb in his second year introduced Terry Doyle who grew into every game he played and Northern Dave Briggs, Tom Hull and Sam Bush added a certain boyzone factor to the team.
Of course there were the age old faces of yesteryear still playing their trade on the pitch. But many will return to see a new Ongar team full of youth, vigour and one that will mature together into a potent force.
When the season started after a friendly at Bancroft and a tens tournament; ORFC got off to a winning start with a home victory against Millwall.
This inspired a good run of results. Winning at home against Wansted, Loughton and a dramatic last kick of the game victory against Billericay. That game must go down as one of the fastest paced and thrilling ever seen at love lane. Sadly away from home Ongar lost narrowly in a high scoring action packed adventure at Basildon and beat themselves to lose to Canvey away although that result was later rewarded to Ongar.
A few friendly mishaps and the league got back underway; or it should have.
From November to January we didn’t have a single game. The weather played havoc on the pitches and many as they were local authority owned were forbidden to hold matches until the waters had subsided. Games were called off last minute and during this time we lost a few people to injuries.
The Christmas break didn’t help either.
Finally after a long break we drew away to Loughton. We were rusty and you could see that injuries were taking their toll by this point. However it was a game that we should have won and may have kept results ticking over.
This would be the part of the season where all our good promise failed us and if it wasn’t for the walk over victories we got we wouldn’t not have finished so high in the table.
As it turned out Thurrock cubs and Canvey pulled out of the league and Basildon awarded us a game. Therefore we managed to rack up a few points. This consolidated our league standing.
However we struggled on the pitch after that. We had a few league away games to fulfil and after out long layoff and our mounting injury list we were put to the sword against a few clubs.
However we always went down fighting. We lost away to Wansted on their boggy pitch and were beaten by the many, many faces of upper Clapton.
Three consecutive away losses to Billericay, Upminster and Millwall followed and the season but at an end.
It ended on a sour note as we had not won in 2014.
However no team managed to nil us and we always kept our heads up and played with pride. We played for that castle on our chests.
John Minns and Andy Hull coached and helped us throughout the year and at times looked flabbergasted and exasperated at some of the results on the pitch. However they unfailing were there training, drilling and shouting at us.
This year was all the better for having them here doing their good cop and sweary cop routine. Although we have not seen Andy Hull since he appeared in the veteran’s game and we all heckled him for having ‘lady legs’.
We all owe you both a massive debt of gratitude for your help and efforts this season.
Everyone involved with the first team has a lot of thanks to give this season.
Pen Blake for being our fixtures secretary and dealing with the backlog of matches caused by the weather.
Dawn, Lindsey, Pen and the girls for providing food at every home game.
The committee for helping us out all the time and Jeff Blake for running the vets team.
All of the mini coaches who do a wonderful job and everyone behind the scenes.
Of course the players. Some of which trained a lot, many not a lot. But all of you have put your bodies on the line. Just look at our injury list and that proves that no one shirked a tackle.
Lastly the biggest thanks must go to everyone who come rain or shine stood on the side-lines shouting and bellowing at us no matter what the score was. We always love having you there.
Finally a big thank you from me as club captain. To all those who have helped out in all aspects of the club I thank you with all sincerity and appreciation. We are more than a club, we are a little rugby family and all of us can be proud of that.
We now look a lot smarter in our new club ties and next year’s hopefully we will see more people wearing them with pride.
I look forward to seeing you all next year in the new ORFC kits which are coming and more importantly I hope to see your faces on tour and the dinner dance.
Bring on Exeter 2014 and the tour match v Withycombe RFC.
Total (only games we physically played and not one that were awarded by default)
Bancroft 17-5 ORFC (tens) Canvey 28 – 26 ORFC (*LATER OVERTURNED)
Woodford 5-0 ORFC (tens) Westcliff 27-5 ORFC
Millwall 7-14 ORFC (tens) ORFC 27-25 Wansted
ORFC 19-34 Bancroft Romford 38-14 ORFC
ORFC24-5 Millwall ORFC 20-19 Billericay
Basildon 31-29 ORFC Loughton 17-17 ORFC
ORFC 36-25 Upminster Wansted 37-14 ORFC
ORFC 9-5 Loughton Upper Clapton 41-17 ORFC
Upminster 54-12 ORFC
Millwall 59-5 ORFC
Players Who have donned the Ongar shirt this year (in no particular order)
Andrew Ross (Rossy)
Dan ‘Jeddy’ Riley
In total 41 players have played for the first team this season.