Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
10th September once again marked a key note date in the St Albans Centurions history. 10 season to the day since the Centurions opened their existence following an ad in the local press against a Hemel development side, the Centurions hosted a big social day around their National League fixture culminating in their Awards evening.
Year on year this event becomes more popular and better attended, with over 90 people crammed into Woollams to enjoy the festivities. Some small 'technical' issues could have disrupted the evening but the atmosphere was excellent and with so many players, old boys, partners and supporters in the mix it certainly was well received. The club were particularly pleased to welcome along former England, Wigan and Wakefield and current London Broncos prop Francis Stephenson to hand out the awards. Following the sit down meal, outgoing Club Director Gary Tetlow spoke briefly about the club's history leading into the much awaited announcement of the clubs Dream Team of the decade. This side was selected by a panel who had been around for the decade and after some tough decision the thirteen men were selected as follows:
Dream Team of the Decade
1. Full Back Kristian Warner (2003 - present day) 2. Wing Marcus Tobin (1997- 2001) 3. Centre Dene Miller (2002 - present day) 4. Centre Rocky Edwards (2003 - present day) 5. Wing Desi Kedima (2004) 6. Stand Off Tom Eisenhuth (2000 - 2003) 7. Scrum Half Dan Wortley (2002 - present day) 8. Prop Geraint Edwards (1997 - 2003) 9. Hooker Richard Smith (2003 - 2005) 10. Prop Ken Edwards (1995 - 2004) 11. Second row Eugene Thompson (2003 - present day) 12. Second row Brian Stokes (1999 - 2004) 13. Lock Adam Cox (2002 - present day)
No doubt about it, a fine team, and one which is sure to generate much debate !
Head Coach Colin Baker then took over the reins to give a brief wrap up of the season for all teams from u16 upwards and then got in to rewarding the stars of 2005, as follows:
Recognition to our three hard working physios Charlotte Voss, Bethan Jones and Kirsty Brown.
Presentation of Eastern Regional Champions Trophy to Andy Weldon
Ken Edwards then took control of the clubs primary fund raiser for the year, the auction and wielded the gamble with great gusto, the principal stock being a fully signed Australian RL jersey, snapped up by Mr Kristian Warner for a song !
It proved an excellent evening and closed out yet another fantastic day for the Centurions.
Centurions crush Bears at a cost
Centurions defeated reigning champions Coventry Bears 52-28 on Saturday to bring down the curtain on the Bears 2005 aspirations as they failed to make the play offs. In the final league game of the season St Albans Centurions needed to get back on track and back to form having not played for 3 weeks due to their schedule and this game was ideal preparation. Ironically a Bears win and a Hemel defeat (playing at home to Gateshead Storm) would have left the Stags short of the play offs but in the end the results on the day set up an intriguing local derby play off game versus the Stags this Saturday at Woollams. Coach Baker was able to select from almost his entire squad with the exception of Mike Okosogowu, Donny Lam, Jon Warner, Luke Baxter and Andy Long and had the luxury of having Gus Sione as 18th man.
The game started in typical Bears Cents fashion with no compromise, a team trying to get back on the tracks after a break against a side giving it everything in the vein hope of making the play offs. But as time wore on Cents gradually began to dominate and with three quick converted tries from Farron Mahoney, Dene Miller and Nick Surtees (Jack Malin with conversions) led 18-0 and things looked rosy. Despite this scoreline they continued to struggle in many of the facets that they had been so good at and Bears took advantage and closed the gap to 18-12 with two well worked tries down their left flank. Cents then had two crucial decision made against them by referee Steve Davies, first sin binning Mahoney for what appeared to all as a very innocuous challenge (indeed this did not draw any issue from the Bears players), soon followed by similar fate to Kristian Warner after he retaliated to a punch to the head. So with two men light the Centurions had to defend strongly and this they did and even increased their lead with Allen Wheeler going in from close range, to go in at the interval with a clear margin 24-12.
Second half was also a see saw affair, with the Cents scoring early on through Geoff Huson after a fine break from Wheeler but the Bears responded, keeping themselves within range of the Cents. But the boys in blue and gold always looked the more dangerous and more robust in defence, this being epitomised by Millers last ditch challenge on the Coventry winger as he went over the line, carrying him into touch !! Other try scorers into the second half included Rocky Edwards and Miller with three competing four in the game.
With 15mins remaining the game was won as a contest but this was not the end of the incident. Cents receiving a penalty kicked it to within 10 metres of the Bears line. Having already taken one drive in the set, prop Roger Teau took up a second and whilst prone on the floor he had his scrum cap ripped off his head leading to Teau retaliating. Shane Rampling in trying to split up the combatants was dragged into a side fight and once all tempers had simmered down referee Davies showed red to Teau and Rampling and two Bears players. This was a significant decision for what appeared something and nothing as both players now face the possibility of a ban, preventing them from competing in the pay offs. The game then fizzled out with both teams accepting the result and looking forward to the play offs in one case and the off season in the other. Centurions Man of the Match was adjudged to be Dene Miller and prop James Howitt for the Bears.
Centurions Old Boys 30-22 London Griffins (bull tag !!)
Centurions Old Boys played their inaugural fixture of tag against a well drilled London Griffins side as a curtain raiser to the main match. Including the likes of Caro Wild, Mark Nesbitt, John Longden joining with the 'real' old boys Ken Edwards, Gavin Willacy, Steve Kenworthy, Gary Tetlow and John Morrison the Cents did not get off to the best of starts when a Griffins bomb evaded the Old Boys (probably due to poor eyesight !) and over they went. But with Nesbitt and Wild fizzing around the park and Edwards leading from the front in spite of all the strapping the Cents hit back with tries from O'Shea and Nesbitt. It was very exciting stuff and as the half wore on the Cents started to look as though they knew they were playing rugby league. Half time came and the score sat at 16 all.
The second half continued through pouring rain and despite of the atrocious conditions and aching joints the boys put on a brave show and tries from Longden, Edwards, Wild and Nesbitt put the Cents ahead with a minute left on the clock and victory was theirs. On the final whistle the team sank to their knees in exhaustion and jubilation. The win was particularly satisfying as they played the majority of the second half a man down after Willacy had to leave the feel following a recurrence of an old war wound.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable and fun event and the Cents Old Boys hope to get a few more along for their next game as they hoe it can become a more regular event.
Co Founders to step down
After 10 years at the helm of the Centurions club, co founders Ken Edwards and Gary Tetlow have formally announced that they will be no longer formally involved in the club at the end of the season. Both have contributed massively to the development of the club and the development of the game in the region, but felt the time was now right with new blood now fully involved in the club to make this move. Formalising the position will take place at the AGM, and the club would be very interested to hear from any individuals who might like to contribute time, money or support in the effort to move the club onwards as they strive to develop the Greatest Game in Hertfordshire.
Commenting at the awards evening, Chairman Edwards said 'It was been a great journey for me and the club. I have forged many friendships through the club and rugby league and feel I have done my bit for the growth of the game I love. It has been a tough ride and at times quite frustrating, but to see where the club is now from where it came from is a testament to the hard work that many people have put in and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed in whatever way during the last ten years.'
In a similar vein, Tetlow commented, 'No doubt that the development of the club to where it is today has been a source of great pride for me and Ken. From a chance meeting in London, to the initial advert to put our toe in the water, we have never looked back. I have met some fantastic people in the time and I will remain a true supporter of the club. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to many people who have supported us throughout our development but at the end of the day, todays success has been borne out of hard graft and dedication from a small hard-core of Rugby League people. The club is well set for a rosy future and I hope the RFL can see that clubs like ours deserve more resource to help it move forward in line with the games overall strategy.'