500 up and going strong - League stats since 1987

Sevenoaks 4 Old Shootershillians 3:  that was the result of our very first league match on 12th September 1987, noting in those days it was four points for a try.  The five point try was introduced for the 1992/93 season.  Since then we have played another 499 league matches over 29 seasons against 80 different clubs, with varying degrees of elation and despair.

For the first five seasons the divisions consisted of just ten clubs playing each other once, while for the next five they expanded to twelve.  For three further seasons this was adjusted upwards again to 16 and then finally, in 2000/01 after a major reconstruction, all divisions were altered to be made up of 12 or 14 clubs playing each other home and away depending on the seniority of the division.  We have played at four different levels: one season at Level 9, seven at Level 8, nine at Level 6 and twelve at Level 7 where we are at present.

We were unbeaten at home for 20 matches between January ‘90 and December ’93 and in the 31 matches from January ’90 to October ’96 we lost three – each by just one point.  Away from home we were unbeaten for two years from November ’93 to November ’95. 

However the bare facts don’t do justice to the highs and the lows nor to the commitment that all players, especially today’s, are required to make for the good of the Club and their team.  These figures have a passing interest, but everyone will have their special memories of specific matches.  Here are just a few reminders:

11 March 1989, beat Dover 16-12 to complete our first “perfect” season

3 April 1993, loss to Park House 8-9 which denied us promotion

4 March 1995, beat Old Elthamians 134-13 on our way to another “perfect” season, Stuart Thresher scoring 75 of those points on his own

5 April 1997, beat Canterbury 41-3 to secure promotion to Level 6 for the first time

25 October 1997, beat Brockleians 163-0 which at the time was a National record win for any RFU Championship game

7 November 1999, loss to Winchester 20-25 which eventually transpired to deprive us of promotion to Level 5

2 February 2002, beat champions elect Canterbury 13-3, after losing the earlier away fixture 10-83!

20 October 2003, Robbie Unwin scores two tries in injury time to beat Cobham 24-23

21 February, 2004, beat Maidstone away 29-28 with half our pack being at rugby pensionable age, including two current Committee members (guess who!) 

30 April 2005, beat Effingham & Leatherhead 33-17 in a play off for promotion back to Level 6

8 October, 2005, beat Jersey 62-31 to inflict on them their first home defeat in two seasons, and produce perhaps one of our most compelling performances ever 

31 March 2012, beat high flying Lewes 46-43 to avoid relegation to Level 8

20 December 2014, beat Tunbridge Wells 27-26 with a converted try following the last move of the match, and of course we welcome our Royal Spa visitors again today for the second successive Saturday. 

Cup and friendly fixtures are excluded and, especially for a number of reasons including the saving of social reputations, there is no record of matches and escapades while on tour.

No doubt there are many more league and other matches to remember, especially at today’s Past Players’ Lunch, and you will be able to dredge up significant moments both on and off the field, all probably somewhat exaggerated with the passing of time.

We now live in an age of statistics and league tables, so we need to note these records, but not so as to regard them as the only yardsticks for the enjoyment of our Club and our sport.  Actual participation and involvement generates the camaraderie that we embrace and are celebrating today at lunch and through the afternoon.    

All the stats are in the match programme this week.

Howard Pearl