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Esher home preview

By Marcus Streets

Welcoming John Inverdale

This Saturday the Blood and Sand entertain Esher at Volac Park.

Although named for Esher, the club's grounds is closer to Hersham. At the far side of the Hersham parish is St George's Hill. With a height of only 255 feet it is the lowest official hill in Surrey. If it were not for its inhabitants it would not be worth mentioning. In the twentieth century it was developed with large houses, each on a plot of at least an acre and selling for millions of pounds.

However, in the seventeenth century it was the site of one of the first communes, set up by Gerrard WInstanley and his supporters, known to history as the Diggers.

It was 1649, the Civil War had been won by the Parliamentary forces. The King had been captured, escaped, made common cause with the Scots, defeated a second time, arrested tried and executed. Now all was left was to determine what to do next. While everyone was agreed on what they opposed - few could agree what they wanted.

While it would be another three hundred years before Chairman Mao would note that Power flows from the barrel of a gun - power lay with the Army generals. Some people, like the Fifth Monarchy Men wanted a theocracy - preparing for the second coming which they associated with 1666 and its links to the number of the beast. Many assumed Parliament could be elected as before - by those owning property. A faction prominent within the lower ranks of the army and known as Levellers proposed extending the franchise to all men.

But the most radical faction was led by Gerrard Winstanley, a Quaker, believed in a world without private property. A world where all men and women would work together to raise their own food. The dream of a former rural idyll and a previous golden age which could be traced back to the peasants revolt and forward to William Morris in News from Nowhere and even the hippies and some New Age travellers.

As ever, the existing locals felt threatened by the radicals and brought the law down on them. The law in this case being manifested by the Army. The Diggers were evicted within months and although they regrouped a few miles away at Cobham they were expelled from there by Spring.

The generals realised they did not like dissent or even democracy. Oliver Cromwell emerged as Lord Protector and ruled without parliament until his death and the eventual restoration of the Monarchy.

Esher and Cambridge find themselves in the relegation dogfight. Last week Esher defeated Ampthill 49-48 in what John Inverdale described as the most remarkable game of rugby he had ever seen. After 25 minutes Esher led 35-5 and after 50 minutes 49-22. In the last thirty minutes, Ampthill fought back to 49-48 and had possession with time expired. But the Ampthill 9 obviously got confused as instead of pressing for victory he kicked the ball dead.

When Cambridge went to Esher, we had what most of the players regard as one of our worst performances of the year losing 17-10. Our players will want to avenge that and last weeks defeat. However Esher will be on a high. We do need your support.

The 2nd XV will be playing Esher II looking to stay top of the league, while the 3rd XV host Saffron Walden in the last of the first phase fixtures. The 3rd XV are guaranteed third position so will advance to the plate competition Saffron Walden need a victory if they are to join them.

Updated 19:46 - 10 Jan 2019 by Marcus Streets


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