2005-10-21 / Sports

Fisheads Fillet North Jersey To Advance To Championship

The Rockaway Fisheads secured their place in the New York Metropolitan Rugby Union’s Division 2 Championship Match this past weekend by thoroughly pasting host North Jersey 57-0. The Fisheads unbeaten season rolled on to 5-0, gathering momentum and heading toward what many on the team hope will be a long awaited Division 2 Title. A visit to Montclair this weekend remains important, however, and as they have done all season the Fisheads remain focused on the immediate opponent. The championship is on the horizon for now, as the locals prepare for a tough match against what will surely be a determined foe in Montclair.

Regarding the butchering of North Jersey, little needs to be recounted after such a one sided affair, but a few things were worth noting: The normally slow to start Fisheads came out of the blocks quickly, jumping all over the hosts and overwhelming them from the start. Solid forward play, slick back work, and uncharacteristic penalty-free action from Rockaway served notice to the league that the Fisheads are razor-sharp and the team to beat. “We accomplished 2 things this weekend” said veteran Fishead and former local ladies man Tyrone Sperling: “First, we avoided the classic “trap game” scenario and dominated an inferior opponent. We didn’t take North Jersey lightly and played to our ability level, rather than theirs.

These are the games you sometimes walk away wondering “what happened?”, after a team you should beat

surprises you because you weren’t ready. We were very ready and used the game to hone our edge for the last

two matches. By remaining undefeated, we were able to accomplish the second thing: We will host the Championship Match at Ft. Tilden on Oct. 29th. It’s set up for us. To use a few cliches, we “control our own destiny” and can “run the table.” All we have to do is win!”

Rockaway even has the luxury of knowing who their opponent will be as the once-beaten Union RFC is the only team mathamatically able to knock Rockaway out of the top slot. Union has one loss, as does Montauk, whom Rockaway has already beaten head to head. All other teams in the league have at least two losses. Barring the unlikely scenario of a Union loss to last place North Jersey this weekend, Rockaway will host Union on Oct. 29th (At Ft. Tilden) for the coveted Division 2 Rugby Title. The always-tough Montclair Rugby Club will host the Fisheads this weekend and the game still has some significance, even though Rockaway has locked up a championship berth. A loss at Montclair would actually threaten the Fisheads NERU play-off chances and create a pressure-packed, potential all-or-nothing game for the title. The Fisheads would either win the title outright with a win over Union, or risk missing the play-offs entirely in the complicated point differential tie-breaker scenarios.

“All the more reason to take it one game at a time”, said player-coach Bob Johnson. “You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out all the potential scenarios, but the simple facts are these: We are undefeated, we have the best record and we will play for the title on our home pitch. We are in the best position to be champions of the league and we fully intend to BE champions of the league. We have worked for it, we have done all we can and it may be our last chance at the title for a long time. It’s no secret that we are a veteran club and we aren’t getting any younger. We need to win now. Again, it starts all over again when we go to Montclair. They will be trying to play spoiler and we cannot allow them to complicate our mission or affect our confidence for the championship match. The competition in this league is so intense and the teams are so close in ability that any time you look past an opponent, you are setting yourself up to be derailed.  This game is vital to our goal of being undefeated champions and we will win the match. We just have to.”

Johnson did, however, look slightly ahead in his closing comments. “I don’t know if the people of Rockaway Beach are aware of it, but they have an undefeated Rugby team and will host a championship game. We have been a little disappointed in the area of fan support this season. One thing we will need is for all of the people who follow the Fisheads to turn out and support us on October 29th at 1:00 PM at Ft. Tilden.”

“In order to have true home field advantage, the visiting team needs to feel the hostility of the hometown crowd. At the very least, they need to know whose house they are in. Former players, families, friends, fans, young and old, we need everybody to show up and support us next weekend. It may make the difference! Our last meeting with Union was a bitterly disappointing 2 point loss at their home field last season. We want some pay-back and we want the title.We are hoping the people of the Rockaway community will help us get it and share in the celebration.”

Rugger Pluggers: This column has officially stopped urging all underachiever-types to show up for matches.

As the poet said: “Of all the words of tongue or pen....the worst are these.....it might have been.” Give your best young men. Giving anything else only TAKES from you, your team, and your life. Grouch McCann continues to play near penalty-free rugby. In addition, he hasn’t verbally or physically assaulted an opponent, or a teammate for that matter, in nearly a month. Has the thorazine kicked in that quickly? Ron Kemly may be the player of the year as his torrid season continued with 2 tries against North Jersey.

Is there no limit to his potential? (except height). Oscar Prince will draw the difficult assignment of containing Montclair’s speedy wings this weekend. Barring any pre-game “indulgences”, he should be up to the task. Oakie “Stan Hansen” O’Connor back in action for Montclair. Neck braces are on in Jersey. Former Fishead Robbie Ostrander is constructing a luxury box on the midfield stripe for the championship match.

The Donald Trump of the penninsula always goes top shelf. Bill “the rulebook” Kelly has also been surprising-

ly tame, though even more effective than ever before. Is he pilfering the Grouche’s meds? Brother Tim Kelly involved in a “skirmish” but avoided the sin bin for the second week in a row.

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