Players, officials and supporters of Farnborough celebrated one of the most poignant days in the club’s history with a first cup success in 18 years as dignitaries paid tribute to James ‘Bungle’ Walters.
Corporal Walters, a playing favourite with the Hampshire 1 club, was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan two weeks ago.
And the club decided to celebrate his life with a special centenary match at Tile Barn Close which coincided with the Hampshire Plate final against Fareham Heathens.
Before the match, an Army trumpeter played out the Last Post as the four teams on view stood in a line for a minute's silence, followed by Reveille as a call to action.
Two games were being played on the day with the second team playing as a ‘Farnborough XV’ in the centenary match against Solent Barbarians – a team drawn from many Hampshire 1 sides – before the first team contested the Hampshire Plate final against Hampshire 2 promotion winners Heathens – a game which also coincided with the centenary of the club.
For Farnborough this was a matter of pride, show of strength and a tribute. A win was a requirement, nothing less.
Indeed, Adrian Price’s side got off to the best possible start when a lineout on the left wing resulting in a maul which allowed Lee Kirkham to pop over line after just two minutes. James Windle duly converted and Farnborough were in the lead 7-0.
Then, Warren Milne went over in a similar way from the opposite wing at 15 minutes, again converted by Windle – a blistering start given they were playing into a strong wind for the first half.
A penalty just before half-time kept the Heathens in the hunt – and a comeback looked on the cards at the very start of the second half when an opportunistic but clever kick put the ball over Farnborough’s try line and hand them another five points.
Dave Coghlan Jr’s first penalty of the afternoon was soon cancelled out by the visitors to bring the gap down to less than a converted try with about 25 minutes to go.
But Farnborough dug deep and after a second successful Coghlan kick, hooker Gareth Stewart emerged from a maul and he was literally dragged over the line by captain Alex TerKuile, sparking wild celebrations.
“It’s been 18 years since Farnborough has won a trophy, and today, as we celebrate our centenary we have done it,” a delighted Price said afterwards.
“We will mourn Bungle for an eternity, but tonight, we will party.”
The second team weren't so blessed in their centenary match, however, going down 34-7 to a strong Solent Barbarians side despite a try from Carl Morrey.