Fergus Scholefield Memorial Cup: Penguins v Freshers XV
Honor Oak Park, South London
19th January 2019
Birmingham, our new hotbed for Penguin player and fan recruitment, proved fruitful ground for our 2nd Fergus Scholefield Memorial match.
Friends and family of Barney and Lou Scholefield boarded the fun bus down the M40 to the big smoke, where the streets of HOP are paved with blue and gold. The coach was full of both excitement and trepidation for the day ahead, as players such as Rob Kelley would be dusting off their boots for the first time in many years.
Our tourists hoped to glimpse a view of Big Ben, or perhaps Buckingham Palace, but instead had to settle for the spectacle that is the South Circular at Streatham.
Shay Reading stepped up to captain the team, giving our celebrated captain Jamie Jackson a weekend off from the Penguins heavy fixture schedule, to bring together a line-up of youth and grizzled experience to face a fresh-faced Freshers XV.
But before the first whistle was blown, a quiet moment was taken to remember why we were all there, to celebrate young Fergus Scholefield, who was sadly taken away by cancer before he got chance to fulfil his dream of playing fly half for England and, later down the line, Guy’s Penguins.
Dad Barney Scholefield said a few poignant, heartfelt words before Young Chester Scholefield kicked the match off to a fast and furious pace, with both teams eager to throw the ball around and keep warm.
The Penguins struck first. Barney Scholefield unleashed winger Israel Sotonwa, who carved through the freshers’ defence like a hot knife through butter to score, pulling a hamstring in the process, proving to be the speedsters first and last contribution to the game.
Marshalled by our ‘bostin’ new Penguins recruit at 10, Issac Ellis continued to pull the strings of the non-ham type.
And with Mark Edmondson, Rory Hartley, Sam Scholefield, Bruce Rabone Young, Tom Saunders, and Troy Sheppard all punching holes through the Freshers’ defence, alongside the terrier-like Hadlington at 9, who looked like he had a long-haired terrier stuck to his top lip, the pressure kept mounting.
Then in a well-rehearsed move 15 men got behind a drive from a line out to power over from 20 yards, the Welsh wonder Edmondson emerging from the pile of bodies after touching down.
Meanwhile Oliver Laird was determined to use his face to tackle the opposition, selflessly putting his modelling career on hold for a few weeks.
After the turnaround the Penguins found themselves sucked into the Freshers broken game-plan, and a couple of tries were chalked up to make it close.
But just like our consummate fullback Matt Rouse, we didn’t buckle. The Penguins brought on their finishers, with Olly Scholefield, Geraint ‘High Tower’ Thomason, Toby Welch, Chris Howell and Dave Ellis joining his son on the pitch, all providing fresh impetus. Soon after a deft kick to the corner from Ellis was delicately gathered over the line by the effervescent Hartley.
The Freshers, showing the fighting spirit that runs deep through every Guy’s team, then dealt another blow, so the Penguins decided to call upon their trump card.
Chester Scholefield gathered the ball from outside the oppo 22, before shimmying his way through the statuesque defence and under the posts, adding the extras with a coolly-slotted drop goal to tally with his earlier conversion.
With minutes to go the freshers prop, and captain Melyvn Govindan, intercepted the ball on his own 22, with 60 yards of empty pitch ahead of him his look of terror turned to relief as the French official blew for offside.
With that the Penguins closed out the final moments to win by a point, to retain the Fergus Cup, which was presented by Robert Scholefield, his grandfather, and ex-student of Guy’s Hospital. Little Fergus would have been proud.
The throng of chilly supporters and players then enjoyed the after-match hospitality and a gargantuan Pat’s Magic Raffle time, before heading up the road to the Babur fine-dining emporium for a well-earned curry... pronounced ‘curraaaaaaay’ in a Brummie accent, as we discovered to our amusement.
Penguins Fergus Cup Captain