In days of yore when cars were a luxury Dodds of Troon ran bus trips to various beauty spots; the Trossachs, Loch Lomond and Edinburgh to name but a few. There was always the option of the Mystery Tour where you had no idea where you were going but it was normally a tour which took a slightly different route to one of the other tour options and ended up in the same team room in Callander for example.
So it was on Saturday as the various tourists left the Maybole HQ. Tour 1 was the beautiful coastal route to Stranraer arriving at the London Road Playing fields to be entertained by our hosts at the Wigtownshire Rugby Club. Tour 2 was the Simon and Garfunkel Bridge over Troubled Waters Mystery Tour. Yes, you have guessed it this tour also arrived at Stranraer but taking in the inland scenic route of the Galloway Hills, a short stop at the Book Town of Wigton before heading west to Stranraer. Tour 3 was the Mystery Tour taken by Coach Brown (forgive the pun)
With all the combatants having eventually arrived in theatre Padre Morriss of the Royal Marines gave us all his blessing with a sharp blast of his whistle.
The Shire kicked off into a stiff breeze and is their wont the Carrick forwards messed up when the normally reliable Willie Wyllie dropped the kick off. This set the tone for the first quarter of the match with Rick errors allowing a committed home side to pen the visitors to their own half. Carrick were fortunate that the Shire kicker was having an off day as he should have opened the scoring from a penalty in front of the posts
London Road is not normally the easiest of places to visit but this Wigtownshire side is not the Shire side of old but they still possess the skills for close quarter combat. As Coach Brown toured the perimeter of the field he was mystified as to why the Rick forwards persisted in taking the ball on close when the potent attack weapon, outside, was being left idle or being given poor ball. In the 24th minute the Rick managed to rid themselves of their lethargy with forwards and backs combining to stretch the home side on the right. When the attack was halted Grant Ward switched the attack left and Euan McGregor’s miss pass found John Dewar who outpaced the cover to score in the corner. Connor Wyllie slotted the conversion from out wide. With a seven point lead at half time having played with the breeze and slope Coach Brown was not a happy camper.
Carrick’s tempo did increase as Brown had demanded but their performance still lacked that finishing edge. It was 15 minutes into the second half before it all came together for a well worked score. A Cammie Pollock drive from a scrummage made the initial break before quick ball was released to the backs. Centre Ross Knight drew the defence and with perfectly timed pass put Connor Wyllie into space to score.
From the restart kick the visitors were on the back foot. The Shire rumbled as only they can do and from a maul close to the line they scored.
Carrick was stung into action and with an almost identical try to his first Wyllie to give a score line of 17 to 5
With ten minutes left Brown was hoping for a bonus point try but it was that sort of day an all of Rick’s efforts came to naught.
It was a strange game. The Carrick scrummage was strong, Paton and Logan had command of the lineout, Ward was a terrier around the base of forwards and the backs when they had go forward ball were a constant threat. It was a game that, at 12 to 5, could have been lost but in the end for Carrick it was a lost bonus point.
As for Coach Brown’s mystery tour around the London Road Playing field it was an overcast day with the threat of shower but with the sun trying to burst through. A day when shafts of light shine down through the cloud or a day when the rainbow appears with its illusory pot of gold at its end.