The Alleynian, December 1908
Dulwich College v. Bedford Grammar School.
To plead bad luck as an excuse for defeat is usually a poor sort of game, but on this occasion there is no room for doubt that it was bad luck and nothing else that lost us the Bedford match of 1908. With Green off the field a quarter of an hour from the start, our hopes of winning became remote; and the fact that, with our outside arrangements absolutely disorganised and a scrum of only six to face a more than usually powerful Bedford pack, we had more than our share of the game and only lost in the end by a margin of five points, shows how the game would have gone under other conditions.
Excepting Mackinnon and Darley, Green was the one man we could not afford to lose. His absolute reliability was the backbone of our defence. With five three-quarters and Green to get through, Bedford would probably not have scored at all.
The five three-quarter game answered admirably from the very beginning. We started attacking from the kick-off, and for the first ten minutes or so were always on the point of scoring. Then, in a rush, Green was kicked on the head, and had to retire. From that point to half-time, Bedford had all the game. Their forwards got the ball, and the outsides, combining well, made an opening for Hunter on the right wing, and he scored an easy try, which was converted. Bedford continued to press, but excellent work by Broad and Mackinnon, and good kicking by Kempson, kept them out. We crossed over five points to the bad.
We were playing downhill in the second half, and we started out in a style that showed that we meant to go all the way. Whitehead and Gasson took us into the Bedford 25 with fine punts. Darley tackled a three-quarter. A scrum was formed about forty yards from the line, and Kempson, kicking across, sent the ball to Whitehead, who passed to Gasson. Gasson ran splendidly, outpacing his wing and going straight and hard for the corner-flag. Running strongly, he broke past the back, and scored a great try near the corner. Greenwood’s kick, a very good one, just failed.
After the drop-out, Bedford rushed to our 25, but our forwards took the ball back to half-way. Broad spoiled a Bedford three-quarter movement well, and our forwards again got going, Darley breaking through to the Bedford 25. Bedford returned to our 25, and Darley, breaking through again, ran to half-way. Colman and A. Lowe put in some good tackling, but the Bedford outsides reached our line. Almost at once Broad and Kempson had got back to the Bedford 25. A scrum was formed. Bedford got the ball. Their outsides, passing well, reached our 25, and another movement sent them in on the left. The kick failed.
The drop-out failed to take the game away from our line. We continued on the defensive till Whitehead broke through in fine style and punted to the 25, where Broad did some good spoiling work. Donald made a good kick to half-way, but Bedford soon attacked again, and their left wing three-quarter scored his second try, near the goal-posts. This was converted, giving Bedford a lead of ten points.
From this point to the end of the match we had a good deal the best of it. Our forwards, playing a wonderfully fine game, hustled the Bedford pack down the field to their line. By slow degrees we were forced back, first to ten yards, then to the 25, then to half-way; but some grand foot-work by Mackinnon sent the ball back to the Bedford 25. Broad was conspicuous here, and Abrams and Whitehead also did effective work. A. Lowe, who had taken Gasson’s place at back at half-time, made a neat mark. Darley, Broad, and Whitehead all helped to keep us attacking, and Kempson, with another of his useful kicks, found touch thirty yards from the line. Just then it looked as if we were going to score, for Kempson and Whitehead got to within ten yards of the line. Resolute tackling kept us out for a few more minutes, but our attack was too strong, and, after some loose play on the line, Darley picked up and grounded the ball, nearer the touch-line than the posts. Greenwood converted with a magnificent kick.
There was just a chance that we might score again in the few minutes of play that remained, but Bedford, playing up hard, kept us defending when we should have been attacking. Some fine tackling by our backs and Darley kept them out, but no-side came before we could get through again.
Taking everything into consideration, our team played a game of which they may be proud. Even going by the actual figures, the result was better than any since we won in 1903. And, seeing that we were one short for more than three-quarters of the game, the result was more than satisfactory. The outsides, considering that they had to rearrange themselves at a moment’s notice, were excellent. Whitehead struck us as particularly good, and Gasson’s try was a gem of straight, hard sprinting. Kempson was a little inclined to crowd Ball into touch, but except for that was always good. His kicking was particularly well-judged. Ball got few chances, but made the most of what he had. Both the Lowes were good, A. Lowe deserving much credit for filling the difficult post of back so well in the second half. Donald, who came out of the scrum to play half after Green’s injury, was always hard at work. Broad was splendid. The hustling nature of the game just suited him. Time after time he spoiled Bedford attacks.
As for the forwards, they were beyond praise. We wish the match had been played on our ground, so that the whole School could have seen them, instead of only the small, but enthusiastic, band of O.A’s, who chaired Mackinnon into the pavilion after the game. Their play was a model of what forward play should be. They kept hard at it from start to finish, and were never more full of dash than five minutes before no-side. Mackinnon’s play never seems to drop below a certain very high standard, but on this occasion he lowered all previous records. To appreciate Mackinnon’s play properly, one must remember that he is in the middle of every scrum that is formed, and also at the head of nearly every forward rush, besides doing more than his share of tackling. Briefly, he was It.
Nor did Darley exhibit any noticeable inclination to stop and pick daisies. His tackling was deadly. He was always running across to help the wings. And, as usual, when he got the ball, he was extremely difficult to stop. He was always to the fore in the rushes.
The rest of the forwards were all conspicuous at intervals, and all worked tremendously hard in the scrums. Colman and Peacocke did some energetic tackling. Abrams and Greenwood were always using all their weight in the scrums. Greenwood’s place-kicks, especially the one with which he converted Darley’s try, were splendid.
Next year, perhaps —— !
P. G. W.
The following was the team:—
Dulwich College.—A. C. Green (back); L. B. Gasson, A. M. Whitehead, C. A. Lowe, V. H. Kempson, A. S. Ball (three-quarters); F. H. Broad and C. N. Lowe (halves); C. C. Darley, C. J. Colman, B. G. Abrams, J. E. Greenwood, G. Donald, H. G. Peacocke, R. F. Mackinnon (forwards).