Charlton Park followed their Christmas lunch with a big win over Barking which sends them back up to third in the league for the New Year. This reflects great credit on Bear and the players and Lee and his coaching staff for their commitment to training and playing when some have seemed to lose their enthusiasm to fight for their position. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Ore as physiotherapist and we wish her every success; Robyn will take over full-time.

Clearly Charlton were in no mood to repeat the scruffy performance in the away game in balmy September and had scored the bonus point try within the first thirteen minutes. Although the two sides were mismatched the game never disintegrated as, supported by sympathetic refereeing, Park tried to keep the ball alive, scoring fourteen tries while Barking showed commendable spirit in rumbling over for two of their own. Reion Raybe was on the end of several long handling moves, followed up by Jeremy Montes, but I have to say I didn’t keep a track of the scorers.

As a club which has experienced its own heavy defeats in the past, not least to Barking themselves, we are aware that clubs going through a hard time need the understanding of others. It was great to see a strong spirit in the visitors team – life must be difficult for them at the moment and we wish them well. There is a dearth of players in football areas like East and South-East London which is having its effects on our lower teams and is affecting many or most of our local clubs. The answer for some is to buy in players. We are trying to get our local schools offering rugby by paying coaches to support them and it is having some success, with up to 200 years 7 and 8 from six schools benefiting.

It’s a long haul and it needs financing and volunteer support but we start the process on Sunday January 14th when training and matches start at the club. In the meantime we wish all members and supporters of Charlton Park a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Next game is away at Beckenham on January 6th, followed by home games with Dartfordians on the 13th and then Farnham in the Intermediate Cup on the 20th.