Front-Row Woes Cause Alton to Withdraw
Sat 07 Jan 2012, 14:15
0 - 5
KCS Old Boys
The relegation trap-door has creaked open a little more following Alton's forced withdrawal from their London 3 game with KCS Old Boys at the weekend.
Humbling, certainly, but an horrific injury list ruled out no fewer than six specialist or would-be props, with a number of second- and back-row players also unavailable.
In theory Alton could have called upon Colts players and Veterans to fill the gaps but to do so for a highly-charged London 3 fixture may well have had safety implications. In the end, it was a sensible call by Alton's management.
This was the first time Alton have been forced to scratch a league fixture for more than 20 years and they are likely to face a five-point deduction which will send them even deeper into the relegation mire.
It has been coming. Alton's senior sides have a small pool of players to choose from and player-availability has been patchy throughout the season.
On occasions senior captains Jimmy Gay and Martyn Jagger have performed minor miracles to field sides on match-days but their efforts have really only papered over the cracks.
This is by no means a problem unique to Alton or indeed to rugby. Grass-roots community clubs such as Alton, Farnborough and Petersfield not only have a limited 1st XV-standard player base, but they are faced with the perennial problem of losing their brighter talent to bigger, wealthier clubs.
All is not lost. Boosted by a sizeable Colts contingent, the 2nd XV did manage to field a squad for their friendly with Millbrook and with a handful of the hugely impressive U16 squad stepping up for the Colts (U17/U18s) on Sunday, there is little doubt that a decent crop of young players is coming through. If Alton can keep them, there are brighter days ahead.
* Injuries permitting, Alton travel to Motspur Park to take on Old Blues this Saturday while the 2nd XV have a Snows Group Hampshire Merit One assignment at Portsmouth (both 2pm kick-offs).