1st XV Match Report vs Falkirk

1st XV Match Report vs Falkirk

Panta rhei, everything flows, as Heraclitus had it.

One season ends, another looms on the horizon. Nothing stays the same – Heraclitus opined that no two steps in the river are the same. Your body changes, the river changes – different water. Panta r(h)ei.

Messrs McCashin, Hanning, Hannay, Hodgson and Paulsson go – meantime – to be replaced by whom? Concerned Stew Mel shareholders can be reassured by Heraclitus, a Greek dude who uttered these things 600 years before Jesus said anything. Everything flows. Plato didn’t care much for him, by the way, but hey ho, you can’t please everyone –  as Rigby, had he been around then, might have said.

Saturday was about the bigger picture – we fielded three teams, and the clubhouse was bouncing before the game thanks to a well-attended lunch. Afterwards, at the Awards Dinner where 70 plus (mainly players) attended a review of the season, brilliantly orchestrated by the departing Sir Nicholas, the clubhouse was positively jumping. We have been on what is fashionably now described as ‘a journey’, and have turned the club around from mid-October. We propped up the table, then, with a record that read: played 7, lost 7.

On Saturday we paused, took a deep breath and said well done to everyone who had knuckled down. Rugby is littered with clubs that are on a downward spiral – but we live to fight another day with renewed energy and belief in ourselves.

The day was a cracking one for rugby, the pitch beautiful and a zephyr softly playing across the Old Lady. The game itself had no end of season feel to it, as Falkirk were as determined as Stewart’s Melville to finish a long season with a victory. It is just as well we had performed earlier in the season because facing Falkirk and needing the victory would have been tough.

This was a game which, in truth, we should really have won – we scored three tries to two and had plenty of chances to score more points. But, in Brims, Falkirk had a dead-eyed Dick who emerged with a 100% kicking record – apart from a ‘Hoggy’ effort from the halfway line.

The game had an edge to it; Stewart’s Melville felt that Nick had been unfairly targeted, and a lesser official than Neil Muir, a Premiership referee, might have struggled to control proceedings.

Penalties in the 12th and 14th minute gave Falkirk an early lead, and, when Gregor Brodie burrowed over in the corner allowing Brims again to add to the score, it seemed ominous. Stewart’s Melville had to score next, and, sure enough, Jack Hannay touched down and Mike Hanning converted following sublime handling from our three-quarters.

As half time approached Nick – in the words of Cher, ‘’If I could turn back time’’ – danced his way through a few attempted tackles to eventually release Finn Hobbis to crash over. A footnote here – the improvement of our starting props, Finn and Angus, over the season has been remarkable – both are now the real deal.

In spite of the conversion being missed, the momentum seemed to be with the home side at half-time.

It is probably the last time we shall see Nick in a league match – but what a player. He controlled things with his weight of pass and kicking placement. His bravery is never questioned – there must have been less able capped by the All Blacks. Sure he made the odd mistake through ‘ring rustiness’, but there is a reason opposition coaches routinely target him. From Nick’s point of view – apart from his cheek bone being rearranged again (and, let’s face it, what do you need a cheek for?) – his body, knees, hamstrings and  shoulders came through the test. He will play again – it must be so frustrating to have that much ability and not be able to play. Nick is the embodiment of a difference between rugby players and footballers – ‘footballers are not injured but pretend to be, rugby players pretend they are not injured but they are!’

Half time Stewart’s Melville 12 Falkirk 13

Falkirk stretched their lead through Skinner in the 58th minute, with Brims, again, annoyingly from a Stewart’s Melville point of view, goaling from wide out. Falkirk lost a player to the ‘bin’ and were forced to defend for most of the remainder of the game. Jack Hannay scored again to narrow the gap to three points with about ten minutes remaining but that was the last activity on the scoreboard.

Why did we lose? Mainly through small individual errors at contact in the heat of battle and a lack of experience in the forwards – both of which are faults that time will heal. Craig Hamilton, for Falkirk, is a big experienced second row and the Falkirk back row proved good at working a turn-over. Harry Russell, missing in our win at Falkirk, displayed the unorthodoxy for which his brother, Finn, is famed and has a similar enjoyment of his rugby.

Our backs, to a man, played well, including Neil Bowie when introduced – Gregor fed Cash beautifully. Mike Hanning showed why he is the Players’ Player Of The Season and one ‘hit’ when he raced out of the line was glorious.

Events previously have confirmed Accies in the play-offs. The look of their seconds against their Stew/Mel counterparts and the fact that they were beaten finalists at the Gala 7s make them, in this correspondent’s eyes, favourites to beat Hawick.

The evening confirmed a club in good heart and was a tribute to Nick’s special style. Remember the best things in life are not things – Heraclitus couldn’t have said it better.

These tales now take a break, to return when summer gives way to autumn. Panta Rhei – everything flows.

The writer, meantime, goes on ‘furlough’ – a term that missionaries use whilst they wait, unpaid, for their next posting.

Full time Stewart’s Melville 17 Falkirk 20.

Gavin Calder

Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, and a native of the city of Ephesus, then part of the Persian Empire. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. From the lonely life he led, and still more from the apparently riddled and allegedly paradoxical nature of his philosophy and his stress upon the needless unconsciousness of humankind, he was called “The Obscure” and the “Weeping Philosopher”.

Heraclitus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice’.

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