4. Yet More Bard News

The mysterious hacker we can only refer to as Spotty Derek (because his name is Derek and, well, he’s a bit spotty) has been at it again. However we’ve paid the fine and set him loose on the internet once more to bring you:


First published in Rugby League World, Issue 434 (June 2017)

Dear Uncle Nigel,

Call the World Health Organisation, break out the penicillin and make sure you’ve had your shots. There’s been an outbreak of fever in the South Atlantic. Rowton-Wattlesborough Cup Fever to be precise! Yes excitement is already mounting about the greatest sporting event south of the Equator (statistically more popular than the Easter Island Grand Prix, scientifically proven to be more exciting than the Krakatoa Golf Open). From Bard Island to Devil Island, Blood Island to New Widnes, from the Grand Duchy of Clawphin to the Peoples’ Republic of Mobyclaw, talk is of one thing and thing and one thing only – the Rowton-Wattlesborough Cup (or to be more accurate the Happy Shopper Curried Beans Multi-pack Special Offer Rowton-Wattlesborough Memorial Beaker).

The Rowton-Wattlesborough Cup is, of course, unique in many respects. For a start it’s the only Cup in world sport that comes with its own matching saucer. For another the competition is open to any team that can raise 13 players – male or female, amateur or professional – and sometimes they even turn a blind eye to that rule; a few years ago the Bard Island Barnacles suffered the embarrassment of losing to 7 men and a dog.

(FYI Rowton & Wattlesborough are the explorers credited with discovering many of the islands in the South Atlantic. Controversially it has been recently claimed that they never actually left Portsmouth. Instead they simply made it all up by sticking pins into a piece of blue paper and it was just lucky coincidence that some of the islands were actually where they said they were. Certainly no other explorer has been able to find the Island of Killabudgies – although some say that plenty have found it but none have ever returned alive.)

As you know I’ve been seconded to the Bard Island RFL to help out with the tournament so have had a close view of how chief executive Tedstone Dellamere (or as I call him, Mr Dellamere) pulls it all together. At first he was wary about my involvement but in a very short time I have become his right hand man and he now affectionately refers to me as that “stupid little ****** from up north” which is ironic as when I worked at Red Hall everyone used to refer to me as that “stupid little ****** from down south! Oh how times change! (Incidentally Mr Dellamere claims he knows you from your time at the BBC. Apparently you were both dancers on Seaside Special?)

One of my most important duties is polishing the trophy with Brasso (official polish of the Rowton-Wattlesborough Cup). The trophy itself was looted from a Spanish galleon by infamous pirate and rum enthusiast, Harry “the Hook” Pulverbatch. Originally it had been the prize given by Queen Isabella of Castille in her innovative employee awards scheme “Inquisitor of the Year” (won by Tomas de Torquemada three years on the trot – if you look closely you can see where his name has been scratched out with a Philips screwdriver – official screwdriver of the Rowton-Wattlesborough Cup). Protests by the Spaniards led to Pulverbatch’s arrest but he was let off by Charles II who declared “It’s not stealing if it’s stealing from foreigners” (a statement that became the basis of British foreign policy for the next 300 years).

As you’ll remember it was a distant relative of Harry the Hook, Bob “Pegleg” Pulverbatch who founded the Bard Island Buccaneers and in fact the Pulverbatch family are still heavily involved with the club, with Lady Lavinia “Blackbeard” Pulverbatch currently their life president. Many feel that this special affinity is the key to the team’s success in the Cup (although the stricter licencing laws at Cup games which reduce the size of their half time rum ration might also help). However this year the club got off to a wobbly start when a seriously waterlogged pitch seemed to give the advantage to their opponents, the Bankstown Girls High School Water Polo team. It looked as if the girls might swing it until two of them were sent off for spitting (a controversial decision by referee Dave “Mad Dog” Pulverbatch) and the Buccaneers clinched it in the dying seconds of the game.

The Bard Barracudas however had no such worries with their artificial pitch made from woold (official wonder material of the Rowton-Wattlesborough Cup). In fact they prefer it to be slightly waterlogged as it help prevents the pitch catching fire (which to be fair has only happened twice). They eased to victory against the Devils Island New Potatoes (curiously enough named after the official new potato of the Rowton-Wattlesborough Cup). However rumours abound about disagreements between club chairman and turd tycoon Kinton Nesscliffe and Australian coach “Woy Woy” Roy Woy over team selection, training schedules and the colour of the away team’s changing rooms. Apparently things are not entirely happy at the Fish Pond. Watch this space.

However the surprise of the round was the performance of wooden spoon collectors the Bard Barnacles who easily beat the heavily fancied amateur team and circus act Professor Peabody’s Performing Primates. The man the bookies are blaming for this shock is new player coach Colin Hitler. The much travelled Hitler started his career as a teenage prodigy at Cleckheckmondbridge under the legendary old school coach Aled Mardby (whose autobiography “Mud, Blood and Shouting” is a must read, not least for the story about Maurice Lindsay and the incontinent hamster). Since then his clubs have included Perth Western Reds, Hunter Mariners, Adelaide Rams, Blackpool Gladiators, Celtic Crusaders, and Paris Saint-Germain. He’s declared that his aim is to end his playing career this season by winning something – even if it’s only three games in a row.

Yours faithfully

Crispin St Claire

(Read the next thrilling instalment in Rugby League World, every month until the editor gets bored, gets sacked or stops getting the jokes).