Thursday, 4 July 2013

Sunday's Coming - Hemel Stags

Some wise-ass… er… man, once said "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". And Sunday sees Hornets' final 'step' on a six week on-the-road-odyssey that will have seen the team and a hardcore of the faithful cover a staggering 1900 miles.

Here at TLCRF80mins, we're in no doubt that such a gargantuan ask of everyone at the club does take its toll, and that spending eight or ten hours of consecutive matchdays stuck on even the most luxurious of coaches isn't conducive to building momentum - on or off the field. Ergo last week's tired-looking, injury-hit implosion at Wrexham.

Drawing a line - and wearing our positive head -  Sunday presents an opportunity to celebrate the end of the travelling for this season and look to set a platform for our advantageous five-home-game run in.
But Hemel are no mugs.

One kick away from a draw at the Gnoll last week, a Mason Caton-Brown try at the death left BJ Swindells facing a tricky conversion to snatch the draw, but the stags had to settle for a losing bonus point instead, going down 16-14.

Having been 10-4 down at half time, it was a huge second-half effort from the Stags, who seem to have hit the ground running in the semi-pro ranks with a five and five record after ten games. By far their most momentous scalp to date being that of the execrable Big Spending North Wales Crusaders™ at Pennine Way three weeks ago. I wonder what Urinal Bragging Man thought of that as he pissed on his foot?

Boosted by three bonus points, the Stags remain ominously hot on Hornets' tail with 18 points as, fortunately, results last weekend went in our favour.

This weekend, Hemel will be teaming up with the Dacorum Community Trust to put on a fun-day at Pennine Way ahead of our game. Whilst they have face painting for the kids and a fire-engine - complete with firefighters - for the mums, they have by far the the most innovative bit of pre-match entertainment I've ever come across: a 9-hole crazy golf course! If you've ever thought "that Rory McIlroy thinks he's smart, but could he do that through a moving windmill?" Now's your chance to have a go and find out.
Hemel's new stand in its previous life

Hemel are a committed, co-operative, community focused club and, for a few of us, it'll be a great chance to see how their home has developed since our last visit 20 years ago. For most, it provides a chance to go and tick off a new ground in RL's booming Southern Herts-land (see what we did there?).
Certainly following the erection of their new grandstand was one of last autumn's online RL highlights. We're told that in a previous life it was part of the seating at The Mall for the Olympic Beach Volleyball. It now boasts a roof too! In April a spokesman for the club said: "The final rivet in the roof signifies the end of the major development of Pennine Way as a rugby league stadium. There just remains a few minor projects and a fair degree of landscaping and asthetic matters to complete the ground and give the sport in the South of England a unique facility of which it can be proud."

So, for the last time this season, I implore you to stick three mates in the car, suck up the miles and get yourself down there on Sunday to cheer the lads home. It's been a hell of a roadtrip and they really do appreciate our support.

Directions to Pennine Way Hemel are:
- Go South on the M1
- Leave the M1 at Junction 7/8 Southbound
- Continue towards Hemel Hempstead on the A414
- At the second roundabout take the 3rd exit onto tonto Maylands Ave/A4147
- At the next roundabout take the 1st exit to continue onto Swallowdale Ln/A4147
- At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit onto Redbourn Road
- Take the first left (after about 300 metres) onto Pennine Way and continue to the end of the road to arrive at Pennine Way Sports Ground