Ruaidhri joined Shrewsbury School in 2010 as the Cassidy Scholar. He has played for Glamorgan County Cricket Club 2nd XI and was a Cardiff Blue Rugby Club player. Due to many injuries he is now the fifth 1st XI goalkeeper of the season, and quite a good one too! (SJB)
It was an early start on Thursday morning for the sponsored walk in aid of Shrewsbury House, a charity run by the school. After showering and getting dressed, the men of Ridgemount dragged themselves across to Kingsland Hall, where we filled up with a cooked breakfast for the long day to come.
The anticipation slowly grew as we made our way to the buses which took us to the starting point of the walk on the Long-Mynd. I am not sure everyone, particularly the younger years had anticipated how long and tiring the day would be, as the journey to the start was a loud and excited one.
We arrived at the start point at 9.35 and duly set off up a gentle slope. After a couple of miles it did not seem too bad, but then as we rounded a corner a monster of a hill slowly rose above us, stretching up as far as we could see. We dragged ourselves to the top and the rest of the day flashed by. A quick stop for lunch allowed our feet to rest for a bit, before we made the quick eight-mile dash back to the coach, which was going to take us back to school. The conversation flowed throughout the day as we took our minds off the continued pounding of our feet, with the subject slowly changing to the thought of finishing and the rumours of a treat, in the form of a chocolate muffin, awaiting us at the finish.
After finally arriving back at school, the evening was a very quiet one as would be expected with more than a few people getting an early night.
I woke on Friday feeling like I had just been trampled upon, everything being stiff or just hurting. Looking at many other people through the day I could see I was not the only one feeling the effects of yesterday’s grueling walk. After making it through my morning lessons with the thought of coach weekend keeping me going, lunch finally came and I made my way gratefully to the train station to begin the 2 hour journey back home to Cardiff.
After a calm weekend, it was soon back to hectic school life with the anticipation of the ESFA cup match against Abraham Darby that afternoon. I eagerly made it through my morning lessons of triple Maths followed by a helping of Physics, before the lunch bell rang, signalling the end of my lessons for the day. The next few hours were spent getting everything ready for the football match.
The warm-up started slowly with stretches, and gradually the intensity increased. The match that then followed was my most inactive this season, as the goal rout started with the front men and also our centre back knocking in goal after goal, as I stood at the other end watching from our penalty area. The most I was needed to do was pick up a couple of long balls and knock them back to the back four to begin another attack. The game finally ended with a healthy score line of 14-0.
Tuesday was one of my more relaxing days of the week, with only five lessons and a healthy break in the middle.
After finishing lessons, I was quickly out for football training with the goalkeeping coach on top common, where the goal-keepers spent an hour sprawling around, getting used to the techniques of close range saves. This shook up my body as I continuously scrapped across the rock hard ground, my knees and elbows taking a particular battering.
Having only taking up goalkeeping this term, these sessions have been terrific as I expanded on skills that I already had from years of fielding in cricket and playing fullback in rugby. Putting everything together has been extremely enjoyable and I would not be at the level I am now without these sessions.
Following training we quickly got showered and had dinner before we jumped on a minibus, to travel down towards London, in preparation for our ISFA cup match against Winchester College the next afternoon. The journey down was a long one, with one stop to freshen up around half way. We arrived at the Travelodge around 9pm, when a few of the team went for a short walk for some food and drink before we called it a day.
We rose the next day, with everyone thinking about the match to come in the afternoon. After showering, we all made our way to the minibus which took us the short distance to Newbury where we had breakfast in a small café. The meal was a relaxed one as we chatted amongst ourselves, forgetting the nerves about the coming match. Returning to the bus the rest of the journey to Winchester seemed like only a couple of minutes, probably due to the fact I fell asleep. As we were slightly early, our coaches allowed us an hour or so to wander round Winchester. A couple of the team decided to visit the Cathedral but quickly turned round when they were told they had to pay for a tour, returning to the High Street for some more nourishment.
We all gathered back at the school and started to switch on, thinking about what we would have to do in the next couple of hours to book our place in the next round of the cup. I slowly changed out of my suit into my football kit, making sure everything was right with my boots and gloves. Together we jogged out to start our warm-up, the nerves beginning to show as the joking around stopped and everyone began really concentrating on their jobs.
I went off with Mr Hughes to begin to get my hands warm and my feet moving with some quick shots from a few yards. Next followed some crosses, fizzed into the box for me to collect and some long range kicks. We had a quick break to fill up our water bottles and with a few last words from the coach took our places on the pitch.
We started poorly with the majority of the play being scrappy and in our half of the pitch. After dealing well with the first corner of the game, the same cannot be said about the second, as one of the opposition rose above our defenders to finish off the set piece, leaving me groping at air in goal. We responded well and began to take control of the game towards the end of the first half, creating more chances that we just could not finish.
After a few words of wisdom at half time from our coaches we came back out in the second half and asserted some authority on the game, as we pressed on down the hill towards their goal. Our persistence paid off when Max Pragnell finished off a good move with a terrific strike in the bottom corner to put us level with around 10 minutes to go of normal time. We kept pressurizing their defense as we pushed for the winner, but time ran out as the referee blew for full time.
Extra time started much like the first half, with Winchester exerting pressure and they scored with a strike from just outside the area, which although I managed to get a hand to, sneaked under the bar to give them the lead again. As before, this spurred us on and we dominated the rest of extra time. We had a number of corners and continued to apply pressure on their goal, but could not manage to take the game to penalties.
The dressing room was like a graveyard afterwards with everyone devastated about being knocked out at such an early stage. The journey home was one of the most subdued I have had and when we finally arrived back at school, we just wanted to go to our houses and collapse after a long and disappointing day.