Peter Gavin previews Old Albanian v Worthing Raiders

Old Albanian RFC v Worthing Raiders
19th October 2019 kick off 3pm

Raiders take to the road this Saturday heading North to visit our old friends and rivals, Old Albanian, at their extensive facility ‘Woollams’ in St Albans. This will be our seventh visit for a National League fixture. The corresponding fixture last season took place in February, an amazing match somehow ended up honours even 34points apiece (3-3 !). We have played the club many times dating back to 2003 in London 1.

History & Background stuff
St Albans School, founded in 948AD, making the school amongst the oldest in the country, is at the heart of OA. A few former pupils with the urge to continue to play rugby together formed the club in 1924. A farmer’s field, a WW1 barrack hut for a pavilion and boundless enthusiasm (and a few beers!) got the club going. Originally fixtures were played at a ground known as Beech Bottom, but a move was made in 2002 to the existing extensive facility known as ‘Woollams’. The 70 acre site is named after a generous benefactor to the School and former mayor of St Albans, Charles Woollam.
The club became ‘open’ in 1937 providing rugby for all not just for old boys of the School.
England stalwart prop forward Jeff Probyn started his career at OA.
The club put out 3 or 4 sides on Saturdays with Junior and mini rugby taking over on Sundays (900+ turn up!).
Ladies rugby, OA Saints, play in Championship South East 2.
The club has a strong link to Saracens, who use the facilities for training.
Club colours: Maroon, Navy & Gold.

Raiders v Old Albanian
We have played OA at level 5 (aka London 1), level 4 (National 2 South) and level 3 (National League 1): Worthing were promoted to level 4 in 2008, with OA catching up in 2010. They pipped us for promotion to level 3 in 2012, but we joined them for season 2013/4. Raiders were relegated, but OA joined us back in level 4 in season 2015/6. They bounced straight back to level 3, but were relegated in 2018.
A resume of the results and league finishing positions:
2007-8 OA 8 W27 W38 OA13 W2nd (promoted via play off) OA 3rd
2010/11 OA36 W27 W32 OA 25 W8th OA5th
2011/12 OA50 W24 W13 OA41 W3rd OA 1st (promoted)
2013/14 OA33 W20 W31 OA32 W 15th (relegated) OA10th
2015/16 OA27 W 3 W24 OA 31 W11th OA 2nd (promoted)
2018/19 OA34 W34 W16 OA21 W9th OA 10th

Old Albanian last season W12 D1 L17 10th 66pts Raiders 9th 68pts
An immediate bounce back to National 1, as achieved in 2016, was not really on the cards. Four matches were lost in the first 8, but a very poor run from mid-December to early February with 7 successive defeats ensured OA would finish in the mid-table pack. Despite this relatively disappointing season they were the only other team apart from TJ’s to down the colours of run-away Champions RAMs (18-10). The win achieved in the 4th fixture of the season set-off a mini tsunami amongst the result predictors!
Versatile three-quarter Dan Watt led the way with 210pts (10T59C14P) from 28 starts with experienced scrum-half Morgan Thompson also making 28 appearances. The club used 50 different players to fulfil the fixtures.

27th October 2018 Worthing Raiders 16 Old Albanian 21
Just one point and one league spot (21/20 8th/9th) separated the sides prior to this fixture. Raiders hoping with home advantage to increase the daylight. Alas it was not to be, despite staging an onslaught in opposition territory for much of the final quarter, the pressure could not be converted into victory.
Raiders: McLean, Maslen, ForrestJ, Sims, ForrestH, Gwyther, Holt, Birch, Luke, Gatford, Rees, Lake, Harris, Price, Perkins. Bench: Grief, Adams, Lee, Boyland, Richards.
Scorers: T: Perkins (39m), Holt (45m): P: McLean x2 (19 & 69)
Old Albanian: Ricci, Anderson, Watson, Watt, Warne, Wicks, Thompson, Hughes, White-Martinez, Chamnaoui, Hamilton, Illston, Scopes, Mundy, WestC. Bench: Townsend, Ackuaku, Napier, Hill, Smith.
Scorers: T: Warne (9m), Watt (20m & 59m): C: Watt x3.

16th February 2019 Old Albanian 34 Worthing Raiders 34
Raiders travelled in the knowledge that OA’s were in touching distance a mere 2pts, but 4 league spots (8th -12th) ahead…could we bring back a win to the south coast? After 21 mins Raiders were ahead 0-24 a 4try bonus point in the bag and a hat-trick for Harry Barlow! Entering the final quarter of the game OA’s led 29-27!! A try from Tim Bond put OA’s further ahead, but a Jack Forrest try in 76th minute with the conversion from Matt McLean secured the draw. (3 league points apiece)
Old Albanian: Watson, Deane, Holdsworth, Watt, BrownO, Wicks, Thompson, Morgan, BondM, Hughes, BondT, Illston, Betts, Munday, Hill. Bench; Martinez, Ackuaku, BrownA, Pritchard, Lewis.
Scorers: T: Hughes (29), Munday x2 (33 &40), Thompson (45), BondT x2 (62 & 70) :C: Watt x2.
Raiders: ForrestH, Maslen, ForrestJ, Miller, BarlowH, McLean, Holt, Birch, Gibson, Litterick, Hammond, Lake, Cuffe, Dawe, Richards. Bench: Luke, Gatford, Harris, Sassone, Boyland.
Scorers: T: Barlow x3 (5,8,&21) Richards (18), ForrestJ (76): P: McLean (58) C: McLean x3.

This season so far….. W3 L3 PF171/A148 TBP 4 LBP 1 (8th 17pts)…… (Raiders 11th 11pts)
A straight split with the wins at Woollam’s: Bury St Edmunds (38-19), Sutton & Epsom (43-18) and Bournemouth (39-14). On the road they have lost to: Leicester Lions (38-7)and Old Recliffians (21-8). Last Saturday they had a close call in Taunton (38-36). Titans led 38-21with less than 7 minutes left on the clock, but after a great fight back the conversion to tie the match drifted past.

As usual a list of the squad used last week is provided, along with detail on a few other players who have turned out in recent fixtures. They have chopped and changed their starting line up somewhat, but experienced players, centre Dan Watt, scrum half Morgan Thompson and hooker Jamie Townsend have been virtually ever-present. OA’s have had quite an influx of fresh talent with 8 of the starting line-up against Titans new to the team this season. Conor Gracey has been involved in all of the six fixtures so far with the other newcomers inter-changing. As always there are a few members of the Saracens Academy involved.

As usual this fixture bears all the hallmarks of another exciting encounter with both teams likely to be fielding a plethora of young talented players. Please try and make the interesting journey to St Albans to watch what is very likely to be a great game.
Your support on the touchline is a vital ingredient and much appreciated by the players.

….C’Mon Raiders!!!!


Name, Age *played v Raiders Apps 2019/20 Tot N2 App Joined Pts Honours Position Previous Club/s  Appearances  *played v Raiders
12th Oct Team v Titans           (a) Lost 38-36
Dan Watt* (26) 5/1R 64 2014/5 2017 3T7C1P Eng Count Herts FB: Loughborough Students 12
Rory Hardman (23) 3 3 2019 Eng Students 7’s W: Sale Academy, Durham University, Caldy 10, Chester 1
Josh Hallett (19) 2 2 2019 1T Eng U16/18 C: Saracens Academy & 7’s
Nico Defoe (24) 4 4 2019 2T   C: Cambridge 5, Peterborough 29, Bedford Blues Academy
Alex Ricci* (26) 4 28 2018 2T Italy U20 W: Leeds Beckett, Verulamians
Joe Butler (26) 4 4 2019 1T6C1P   FH: Henley*60, Amersham & Chiltern
Corrado Colombo (23) 1 1 2019   SH: Milano Rugby
Matt Ramzanpour (19) 4 12 2018 Eng Count & Herts U20 LHP: Tabard, Saracens Acad, Hertford
Jamie Townsend* (27) 6 30 2018 2T Wasps7’s H: Richmond 2, Chinnor*83, Harlow,
Harry Samuel (18) 4/1R 5 2019   THP: Bristol U18, Hartpury Coll
Chris Napier* (32) 3 17 2018   L: Ballynahinch, Ulster 1
Tim Bond* (24) 5 46 2016   L:Cambridge Univ (b2016)
Conor Gracey (24) 5/1R 6 2019 Irish Exiles Ireu17 Leics BSWF: Cambridge 8, L’borough Students 22, Peterborough 24
Reuben Pritchard* (20) 3/1R 8 2017 E Midlands OSWF: Market Rasen, Bedford Acad
Ollie Stonham (18) 3 3 2019 2T Eng U18 No8: Saracens Academy & 7’s
Mike Bond* (22) 0/3R 26 2018 1T Herts U20 H: Bedford & Saracens Acad
Aaron White-Martinez* (26) 2/2R 41 2017 1T   THP:-
Harry Betts* (25) 0/1R 7 2019 1T   B/R: Chinnor 12, L’borough Students 5
Johno Wicks* (23) 1/3R 13 2018 1T   FH: Cheshunt
Nick Stevens* (35) 0/1R 102 2011 Herts WF: Luton, Tring
PLAYED RECENTLY         Last Played  
Morgan Thompson* (32) 4 100 2015 3T 5th Oct SH: Chinnor 27, Ealing T* 105
Ashley IIIston* (25) 5 31 2018 1T 5th Oct L: Broadstreet, Cinderford, Chinnor
Ned Warne* (23) 5 17 2018 1T 5th Oct W: Exeter Univ, Exeter Acad
Mike Hogan (23) 2/1R 7 2018 1T 5th Oct W: Leicester Lions 23
Alex Chalcraft (23) 1 19 2018 5th Oct EMidlands FB:Towcestrians
Roddy Giles (23) 2 2 2019 1T2P5C 28th Sept FH: Henley*15, Chinnor 3
Tom Bednall (25) 2 49 2017 2T 28th Sept FH: Univ of Cape Town, UCT Ikey Tigers