Teammate’s injury mars Andy’s big day

Andy Day (centre) played his 700th match
Andy Day (centre) played his 700th match

Old Crossleyans’ attempts to mark the 700th first team appearance of ultimate warrior Andy Day with a win were derailed by an injury to a teammate yesterday.

The Broomfield men were 7-0 up and fairly dominant at home to Alnwick when fullback Joe Baker suffered a serious ankle injury on 36 minutes.

After a 45-minute delay while the luckless Baker was treated and stretchered away to hospital, Crocs were unable to impose themselves and were grateful to escape with two league points from a 10-10 draw.

Prop Day, who made his debut on September 5, 1984 as a 19-year-old, was allowed to lead out the side for a North One East contest played in torrential rain at times.

Day did his usual job of anchoring the Crocs scrum from the key tighthead position, tackled with relish and came off the pitch concerned for his injured teammate but having otherwise enjoyed himself.

The sixth-placed Crocs had won well at Alnwick in late November and this appeared their best opportunity of getting a victory from their final four games of the season.

Unusually, they were ‘as per programme’ with the returns of Billy Hammond, Neil Richardson, Will Travis, Ollie Coyne and former player-coach Chris Jones lifting hopes of a positive response from the heavy defeat at champions-elect Cleckheaton a fortnight earlier.

The back line still had a patched-up appearance, with three players who normally ply their trade at scrum half on duty, and the side’s passing was generally not up to scratch.

All the early play was in the Alnwick half. Crocs had plenty of possession but were only able to stretch and not break the Northumbrians’ defence.

Crocs had one scare when a pass was intercepted by winger Ed Shell and they were grateful that referee John Wolstenholme brought play back because the visitors’ were offside.

Chris Vine was short and wide with a penalty as the rain started but Crocs made the breakthrough on 13 minutes when lock Tony Oxley stepped inside the cover and crossed at the side of the posts, Vine converting.

Alnwick had their best spell of the first half after regaining possession from the restart. No 8 Jones got across to make a superb cover tackle and then took play from one end of the pitch to the other by claiming ball at the breakdown and kicking it almost the length of the field, where the visitors were forced to conceded a five metre scrum.

Crocs’ attempts at a pushover try narrowly failed and a knock-on cost Crocs their good position.

Alnwick fullback James Bird was short with a penalty from near half-way before Baker fielded a chip through. He was accidentally high tackled but the damage was done lower down with his right ankle left at an unnatural angle.

When play resumed, the referee having ruled that the first half had been completed, Alnwick took the initiative, boosted by a 30 metre penalty from Bird on 44 minutes.

Crocs responded well and Vine made it 10-3 from close range.

However, Alnwick drew level on 53 minutes when Shell collected a chip over the defence to touch down, the home supporters appealing in vain for an Alnwick knock-on shortly before.

Bird converted and then missed a long penalty attempt.

Crocs were starting to struggle at the lineout and kicking away a decreasing supply of possession.

That made Alnwick look the more likely winners but the game rather petered out, a 30 metre driving maul which took Crocs deep into visiting territory raising home hopes briefly.