PREVIEW: Ealing Trailfinders 1st Xv versus Barking 20th March

After the snow and rain that decended on Vallis Way in January, it is good that we are finding the going a bit firmer in March!

League leaders Barking RFC visit Vallis Way this weekend for the 3rd v 1st clash – It doesn’t get any bigger than this!!  Last weekend Jay and the boys had a testing game against a much improved Worthing side, coming through with a strong second half performance to nil them in the second half. It left a few bodies battered and bruised but as DOR Mike Cudmore said earlier this week, "these are the games we look forward to testing ourselves in, you deal with the problems you have and get on with it. We have only lost against Rosslyn Park this year on a pretty unplayable pitch. We are all looking forward to the Barking game"

Indeed given their well publicised financial problems, it is testament to their DoR Peter Mahoney and coaches Alex Codling & Kevin Sorrell that the team are playing to the level that they are. Sometimes adversity  brings a team together and this is certainly the case at Goresbrook. From a neutrals point of view as well it’s good to see.

Barking arrive at Vallis Way topping National 2 South. 20 wins and 2 losses along with 17 all important bonus points ( we have 18!). Their two losses have both been close games, 13-17 against Clifton and 11-10 against Park. They have had some near misses and have fly half Craig Ratford to thank for getting them out of jail on more than one occasion!

A Brief History of Barking

 It all started in 1930 as Park Modern Old Boys. Park Modern was a rugby playing school in the borough and their first headmaster, Bill Easterby, decided that there was enough interest to form a senior side. The school grounds in Rosslyn Road were used in the early years before moving to Barking Park in the 1960’s. The Club continued under the Park Modern name until 1974 when it was no longer a strictly old boy’s team and became Barking Park Rugby Club, and two years later, changed to its current name Barking RUFC.  In 1989 the Club moved to Goresbrook initially with two pitches one of which had floodlights enabling the Club to play and host evening matches.  Training facilities were improved beyond recognition from the previous facilities and lighting at the school and park.

 Barking gained National League status in 1994 and had their most successful season in 2004 – 05 when they won promotion to Division 2. Unfortunately they stayed only a couple of seasons and it proved to be a costly introduction to professional rugby. A change of direction was required with an emphasis on home-grown players. The 2007 – 08 season saw a new look Barking side made up of home-grown established players and promising youngsters. The team struggled to keep their National League status and only avoided relegation after a monumental victory on the last day of the season against crowned league champions Mounts Bay.

Barking, are proud of their successful youth set up which has over 300 players in 12 age groups and is constantly increasing. Many players, on a regular basis come through the Goresbrook Clubs youth set up and either become part of their National League Squad or play for one of the Clubs social sides, and many,  we are proud to report, go on to play for premiership clubs around the world and in some cases gain international honours. The 2 most prominent players being Club President Jason Leonard-OBE (England and British & Irish Lion) and Kris Chesney (England Sevens & Toulon). Other players include Glyn Llewellyn (Wales) and John Rudd (Newcastle Flacons and England Saxons).  International Players of note who  have also played for Barking are Jeff Probyn,  John Buckton (England) Corrado Pilat (Italy), Sevanaia Rokobaro (Fiji) and Mathias Albina (Argentina).

So who do we look out for today?

Fly half Craig Ratford tops the scoring list for Barking with 208 to his name, whilst number 8 James Kellard has 14 tries to his name. Not bad for a piano shifter, whilst piano player ,full back Chris Jones as 12. 

Barking have picked up 14 yellow cards this season, Arron Liffack has 2 and bad boy Tim Collier has 3 ( although he now back on home turf with Bournemouth).

Looking at the stats – Barking have 101 tries to Ealing’s 106. of those 32 have been scored away, whilst we have scored 59 at Vallis Way! Barking’s grunt merchants have accounted for 41 tries and 53 by the backs compared to 23/80 for Ealing.

It all points to a great battle at Vallis Way – get there early . 3pm kick off.

Ealing’s Dinos Alexopoulos said after training on Thursday "This is simply a must win game for us. Over recent weeks we have let ourselves down and today provides an opportunity to amend those mistakes. The challenge that Barking provide is an enormous one, but life is all about challenges and I have no doubt in my mind that today we will overcome this one. For this to happen we must win our personal battles because inevitability this will win us the game"

Recent results between Ealing Trailfinders & Barking

26/09/09  Barking 44 Ealing Trailfinders 29

24/01/09  Barking 27 Ealing Trailfinders 8

27/09/08 Ealing Trailfinders 55 Barking 0

22/12/07 Ealing Trailfinders 39 Barking 8

08/09/07 Barking 13 Ealing Trailfinders 13