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Trophy victory will end 27 years of hurt.


There is a poem, slightly prickly in tone it has to be said, by Canadian lecturer and wordsmith Tom Wayman called 'Did I Miss Anything?' The central character is a student who has absented himself from a day's classes and on his return the following morning asks the question that gives the piece its title.

Wayman provides two responses, the first - and I paraphrase - is along the lines of: 'Nothing, the world stood still while you were away. How could we have even considered continuing without you?' The second claims that yesterday an angel had descended from heaven and imparted the secret of divine wisdom and eternal happiness. The under-graduate's complacency had cost him Everything.

Moseley supporters, this Saturday back at Twickenham for the first time in 27 years, should perhaps defer from audibly wondering the same. The reply from exasperated debenture holders might go something like this.

"Did you miss anything? Oh no, not much. Only the introduction of league rugby, the creation of the World Cup, England winning the thing at the fifth attempt, the advent of professionalism and six British Lions tours." Rugby, nay the world, was indeed a different place when Derek Nutt led his team out to face Gloucester in the spring of 1982, and Moseley was a certainly different club.

Internationals still decorated their line-up, they boasted one of the finest fixture lists possible and most people with a Red and Black bent had an inbuilt satellite navigation system that took them to the sport's most famous stadium, as if by second nature.

Had anyone at the time suggested it would be the best part of three decades before Birmingham's finest oval ball institution would return, they'd have had real problems drinking their 30p pint in a straitjacket.

Yet in truth they have been close only twice, in 1988 and 1990 when they fell at the final hurdle. Since then Henry Trinder has grown two sets of teeth and Dan Norton has learned to walk, very, very quickly.

The greats have either trudged disconsolately away, dredged the depths of their souls and pockets to keep their club alive or done both. In some cases they have passed to a world where they can visit Twickenham and watch their heroes play every day.

This is neither the place nor the time for recrimination and muck-raking, however. This is supposed to be a happy occasion and many of the new generation of standard bearers, both in the stand and on the pitch, will know little of a history that is both illustrious and painful.

To them this weekend is either just the latest trip to a decent venue with a wide pitch but a difficult wind, or a beautiful and overdue reward for all those horrible training sessions at Metchley Lane, without showers, food or sufficient light.

But it is only partial recompense. Actually winning the EDF Energy National Trophy would be the most appropriate loyalty bonus. No Moseley side has ever left south west London utterly and completely victorious.

Nutt's boys came closest. The 12-12 draw with Gloucester earned them a sixmonth part-share of the John Player Cup. In 1979 Martin Cooper's men were edged 15-12 by a Leicester team on the first leg of their three-year domination.

And in the competition's inaugural season, 1972, Jan Webster's Dirtied Dozen could not prevent the Cherry and Whites taking the RFU Club Competition by two tries, a penalty and two drop goals to one converted try. That's 17-6 in old money.

Of the three previous finals, Saturday's showpiece is a task most akin to the first. The financial advantages afforded opponents Leeds Carnegie, by the inequitable funding structure that exists in the modern game, is probably worth more than a three-player advantage.

If one were to be ultra picky only a few of Moseley's foot-soldiers would get anywhere near the Leeds match day squad, fewer still would make their first XV.

But nothing is impossible. Birmingham & Solihull came within one play of beating the Yorkshiremen in the quarter-finals and Moseley weren't far off when they battled them to a standstill in National One just under a fortnight ago.

Had they not spent the first half-hour admiring Leeds' pretty patterns (even the harshest critic must concede the Carnegie back three really are a class apart), Moseley could have knocked another wheel of their faltering promotion bandwagon. Instead they lost 31-26.

But if they counter-ruck as if their lives depend on it, much as they did in the second half, come up quickly in defence and force handling errors and capitalise on those fumbles, just as they did against Exeter in the semi finals, they could cause an upset.

In Norton and Trinder they have two outside-backs of blazing pace. In ball carriers James Rodwell and Neil Mason they have both rapier and blunderbuss and Terry Sigley is a tighthead who will have seen everything Leeds can throw at him - and more.

But to achieve the improbable they will have to play as well individually and collectively as they ever have. If they can do it theirs would be a place in history, if not, the afternoon could become just another footnote in another season where their league status has been threatened.

Whatever happens, though, they will at least be back at a venue where they once routinely appeared and part-time supporter Bob from Reddings Lane will finally be able to find out if he's missed anything..

THE LAST TIME MOSELEY WERE AT TWICKENHAM - RUGBY AND THE WORLD IN 1982 n League rugby is still five years away. Moseley contest the Merit Table n A month after Moseley drew 12-12 in the John Player Cup final, Aston Villa win the European Cup by beating Bayern Munich 1-0, thanks to a Peter Withe goal..

n In January 1982 unemployment reaches a postwar record 3,070,621..

n The British and Irish Lions were in between cycles having lost 3-1 in

South Africa in 1980. They would go on to be whitewashed by New Zealand in the summer of 1983..

n Margaret Thatcher's son Mark disappears in the desert for three days after losing his way in the Paris-Dakar rally..

n The Falklands War starts on April 2 when Argentina invaded the islands. It ends on June 14..

n Ireland win the Five Nations but miss out on the Grand Slam by losing their last match in Paris.

England, captained by Steve Smith, beat Wales and France to finish second after starting off with a draw at Murrayfield and defeat at home to the Irish..

n Ron Saunders (left) is in control of Birmingham City just months after resigning at Villa Park following a contractual dispute..

n In October 82 the Ford Sierra replaces the Ford Cortina

The Commodore 64 sells the first of its 20 million computers.."Actually winning the EDF Energy National Trophy would be the most appropriate loyalty bonus. No Moseley side has ever left south west London utterly and completely victorious


Moseley president Derek Nutt led his team to a share of the John Player Cup in the 12-12 draw with Gloucester Moseley's Dan Norton (top) Neil Mason and James Rodwell (right)
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 16, 2009
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