Old Caterhamians. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
'COME on you Old Caterhamians,' is a bit of a mouthful so instead they simply yell 'Cats]' The cry echoed around Loughton, a deep-seated pocket of Essex, as the Old Boys of Caterham School in Surrey reached the quarter-finals of the Pilkington Shield, the Rugby Football Union's knock-out competition for junior clubs.
At first there were 512 teams in the shield and to make the final eight, following six victories, is heady stuff. A full house at Twickenham beckons for the finalists, for both the shield and the Pilkington Cup finals will be played at HQ on 7 May.
Both clubs regarded it as the most important match in their history and Caterhamians took 120 spectators to Loughton's spartan ground down Squirrel Lane. Some of them, wearing club blazers with shocking stripes of yellow, purple and black, looked like flotsam from Henley Regatta. But the noise they generated helped to sustain the Cats through a tough, tense tie that had all the ingredients of a classic cup, or rather shield, encounter.
If Caterham are the Cats it would be tempting but unfair to find an obvious abbreviation for Loughton. While the man with the mobile lager bar was doing brisk business, it was the pockets of the peacock blazers that were full of Foster's. Loughton, sponsored by the Gunmakers' Arms in Chester Road - the pub's crest is proudly displayed on the team's jerseys - had a stronger, bigger pack but by half-time were stymied at 3-3.
While Paul Buckley, the Loughton captain (he sells Pilkington glass for a living), was giving his men a pep talk at half-time, a letter was handed to him. It was from Jason Leonard, the England prop and archetypal Essex man who had helped the club in training earlier in the week. 'Go in low and hard in all your tackles and mauls and don't forget your line-out tactics,' was Leonard's message. At the same time, a Caterham official left his team's huddle to answer a call, from BBC Radio, on a mobile phone.
In the end it was Caterhamians' red letter day, thanks principally to the outstanding contribution of their stand-off, Daryl Paterson, and the coaching of Pat Lavery, the former Richmond half-back. Paterson looked a class above in everything he did which, given his background, was not surprising. He played for Otago, a standard somewhat removed from the Surrey Second Division. He played for Richmond in 1991 but a knee injury put him into semi- retirement at 26. 'I sometimes have trouble getting Saturdays off from the headmaster,' Paterson, the PE teacher at Caterham School, said.
His break and beautifully timed pass to the full-back Philip Dockery resulted in the only try of the match, Matt Jackson scoring on the right wing in the 49th minute. That put Caterhamians ahead for the first time and in a fiercely fought second half, with the crowd at fever pitch and the mobile lager man working overtime, Loughton were restricted to a penalty from Craig Clarke.
Paterson, who had already landed two penalties, kicked a third in the final minute, the ball soaring towards the tube line that runs behind the Woodford end of the ground. The blazers were ecstatic, but both sides were warmly applauded. Given that there is no stand on a ground supported by the National Playing Fields' Association, a standing ovation was appropriate.
Loughton: Drop goal Clarke; Penalty Clarke. Old Caterhamians: Try Jackson; Penalties Paterson 3.
Loughton: M Walker; T McGeown, M Goulding, P Relph, T Peach; C Clarke, M Carter; T Burrell, W Sargent, C Murphy, T Green, G Warboys, C Parker, P Buckley (capt), R Pope.
Old Caterhamians: P Dockery; M Jackson, A Fishlock, N Ansell (capt), C Haynes; D Paterson, M Baxendell; K Potter, S Harbour, G Allen, A Nye, D Murdoch, N Frow, P Radford, J Ronane.
Referee: K Stewart (London).