Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mel Hobbs: Its all been YOUR fault!

I guess everyone knows about Mel's pivotal role in getting all this off the ground. So much of it was down to her determination to play - a determination never frustrated despite, first, the sudden collapse of the Scorpions girls team based at Datchworth (only weeks after Mel had gone along to a training session) and then Hitchin's refusal to run the North Herts girls tag team for Youth Games.

Mel was going to play one way or another, even if we had to build a team just for her. Which is what we did. Which is why you now spend your winter Sundays and Thursday evenings covered in mud and interesting bruises - its entirely Mel's fault!

She was there from the start - as naive and green as the rest of us. Who can forget, for example, her attempts to play with her glasses on - and against Welwyn too!?

Mel was a regular player for the first two or three season, generally at centre, without perhaps making a huge impact. She picked up awards - Most Improved Player in 2006/7, for example - and was in the Herts 7s finalists in 2005 - but its interesting that there are not that may photos of Mel in action in the early years.

There may have been other pressures, but I think I'm right in saying that Mel began to feel (rightly or wrongly) that she didn't have a set place in the team, and began to drift away so that she never appeared for us from the middle of the 2007/8 season.

But that all changed this season. Persuaded to come back by new captain Nikki, Mel also leapt at the chance to take on a new role (and one that some of us had always thought she might do). 
After four years with Katie as scrum half the team suddenly needed a replacement. Mel stepped forward, and immediately began to play as if born to the role.

Her confidence did not so much as bloom as explode. She had never been a bad player - indeed she was always far better than she herself would ever accept - but now she was everywhere on the field. 
Opposing scrum halves (regardless of size!) had to move pretty smartly to stand any chance of getting the ball away, while anyone else who came too close to Mel would find themselves in trouble.
But perhaps it was when she got the ball in her hands that Mel became a revalation. Incredable speed, lightning change of direction, huge strength. A sniff of a gap and she was gone...

And now she is gone - well, from playing for the U18s anyway. Because it seems that Mel will be back next season - with Carla - as coaches for the U15s (and, if they are lacking in numbers, maybe as a player too - no-one would notice!). It promises to be an awesome coaching team - between them they have played just about every position on the field. U18s loss this season will definately be the U15s gain. Go Mel!

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