175th Anniversary of Guy’s Hospital Rugby: Penguins v. Blackheath
Honor Oak Park, South London
17th November 2018
The day of the 175th celebrations dawned cold, clear and bright on the 17th of November. Across the country Penguins were awaking from their slumbers with some feeling the effects of the previous night’s exertions, others taking care of domestic chores and sorting out their children before being drawn inexorably towards the ‘Field of Dreams’.
Owing to word of mouth, forward-planning by those involved and some tense negotiations with wives/girlfriends/partners there was a good mix of returning tourists, new faces and even support from Physiotherapists Lottie and Naimh. There were also new additions to the Port Squad with Mick Martin and Ian Neill joining up with veteran supporter Chris Howell.
A strong squad with a healthy mix of established Penguins and up and coming ‘fledglings’ took to the field with notable and welcome returns to HOP from the likes of Roy Turner, Dave Berry, George Tsolakides, Gordon Denslow, Chris Sherwood, Shane Roiser and Tim Price.
Blackheath looked organised and keen and even warmed up for a while before a slightly delayed kick off owing to the vagaries of local travel disruption. The Penguins as ever preferred to play unrestrained, unplanned and unprepared.
From the kick-off it was clear that none of the Penguins young or old had forgotten how to play champagne rugby although some of the things they were asking of their bodies belied the fact that many years had passed between their glory days and now. That said the swelling crowd of spectators were treated to a vintage display of pace and power with strong running from the likes of Mark Edmonson, Pete Davies and Matt Morgan punching holes through Blackheath’s defence which were exploited by the backs with most managing to add their names to the score sheet, Andy Vaughton and Ugo Ekeowa both looked as dangerous as ever whenever the ball reached them.
At half-time it was clear that Guy’s had the upper hand and in order to redress the balance slightly a few students were drafted into the Blackheath Backline and the second half became more evenly contested. Tactical substitutions and rolling substitutions saw Ben Challacombe, Graham Corin, Ed Sheppard and Shay Reading make significant contributions to the match and with representation from the next generation of Penguins via Phil Elliot, Alex Witeck and Theo Malthouse also of note.
Blackheath to their credit never gave up and scored two tries through the graft and endeavour of their forwards and their scrum exerted reasonable pressure on Guy’s at times until Chris Howell joined the fray to shore things up for the past few minutes.
Guy’s Penguins were the runaway winners scoring 70+ points to Blackheath’s 2 tries, however on a day when we were reflecting back on a glorious 175 year history with friends and team-mates ultimately rugby was the winner.
Pete "Kernow" Davies leads some post-match banter under the hallowed posts
Evening Black Tie Dinner
The day's rugby fixture was followed by a gala black-tie dinner at the Skinner's Hall, one of the City of London's famous livery company halls, where a good time was had by all. Fine wine and fine food was accompanied by one of Penguins Against Cancer's legendary "Magic Raffles", where bidding was fierce for a panoply of desirable penguin-related items.