Jay Meehan: The MOB reunion
A quite-interesting concept is afoot within the local rugby club that may well serve to re-inject some of the missing energy it once shared with the Park City community as a whole.
And that is to, first, reach out to its past players, the "Mucker Old Boys," and, if they can entice them back to the sideline, quite possibly the rest of us will follow. In that it’s always been the big-hearted spirit of the Old Boys, on or off the pitch, who have been the main attraction for me-and-my-kind, it seems like a no-brainer from here.
Those were the days! Park City was in the clutches of the MOB the Mucker Old Boys. They controlled much of the clandestine nightlife, not to mention the daytime pitch-side shenanigans, the ribald music scene, and all this after having pretty much reinvented the raging bus interstate road trip tradition during their A-side years.
No doubt about it, it was the MOB’s world and the rest of us were just taking up space in it. Before they could become MOBsters, of course, they had to apprentice as active members of the Park City Rugby Football Club Muckers. Many, however, were actually founding members of the club or at least were in uniform by the mid-to-late ’70s.
In the multi-faceted performance art that is rugby, partying and singing, along with the elegant violence that is inherent to the sport itself, all play specific roles in the mythology. And the Muckers, since their inception, were known far and wide throughout the West for their prowess in all three even capturing the trophy at the annual Lethbridge, Alberta, Social Rugby Tournament two years in a row.
Think of the Old Boys as carrying on that tradition, as being alumni of the loose-ruck ethic who want to stay associated with their mates after their playing days have run their course.
What transpired in local rugby a few years back following a somewhat elongated period of PCRFC inactivity was their now-famous merger with their Salt Lake City rival, the Haggis, who had emerged from the Dead Goat club, who had evolved out of the original Park City Muckers. Rather incestuous, if you ask me!
For the most part, however, there has existed an estrangement of sorts between the new club, the Park City Haggis, and the MOB. Driven by each faction’s non-familiarity with the other (which is driven for the most part by the economic reality that players can no longer afford to live in über-upscale Park City), a reuniting of the past and present is in the works for this Saturday, Oct. 11, down at City Park.
The PCRFC has invited all past players to "visit with some old friends, watch some rugby, eat and drink a few beers." Now, doesn’t that demonstrate a unique knowledge of their target demographic? The MOB, over the years, certainly has taken eating and drinking and visiting on a rugby sideline to an art form.
The Rugby that is being put on display will feature both A & B side matches between Park City and Glendale, Colorado, with the A-side match getting underway at 1 p.m. According to word from Park City club spokesperson Jack Walzer, the local side is undefeated in league play this fall and is coming off two close road wins in Denver over the weekend against the Barbarians and Highlanders.
Myself, I’m attempting to get my Mucker ducks back in line by leafing through a nowhere-near-complete collection of old ’70s and ’80s "Challenge Cup" programs. PCRFC’s annual late-fall invitational rugby tournament ran from 1971 until 1999 when, for whatever reason, it was moved to August before disappearing altogether.
In many ways, I’ve been going through rugby withdrawal ever since. I mean I still drop by the pitch on the 4th of July for a few of the matches being put on display and try to catch as many international tests, round-robin tournaments, and Rugby World Cup matches on the tube as I can, but it’s nowhere near the same as cheering on your friends.
Hopefully, there will be a good turnout of MOBsters at City Park this Saturday for the match against Glendale. There’s nothing quite like swapping lies with longtime mates with a cold brew in your hand and warm memories in your heart. Plus there’s the additional upside of gaining familiarity with the current PC Haggis side.
I can see it now, hoisting cups to now-gone mates while spinnin’ folk-tales of glories past. Pass the word! Get the MOB out in force! Let’s see if all of Ernie’s horses and all of Norm’s men can put Park City rugby back together again.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.
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