To hell with the Rubicon

Friday, October 25th, 2013


It’s a tired phrase. When we speak of crossing the Rubicon, do half the people who say it even know of the Optimates? On Friday, the Men of Belfield will cross the Tolka. That day also mark 598 years to the day of one of the greatest military victories in history.

This is no day for parlay. No day to accept anything from our enemy. On 25 October 1415, King Henry V led his army against a French force at least six times its number and fresh for battle. The men under Hal had been plagued with dysentery, the bloody pox weakening their bodies. The resolve of these warriors was unharmed. Fighting under Henry V, they routed the superior French forces at Agincourt and their victory remains a cornerstone of the very blood of this site.

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

And so these warriors in St Patrick’s blue and saffron will cross the River Tolka. Their enemy is not the red menace that awaits them but doubt. This is a foe which can take many a form but quashing Shelbourne’s resolve can vanquish it. Victory would mean one more year in Ireland’s top flight. Defeat, to a dangerous enemy with only pride to defend, would bring that vile nemesis to the fore. No. We shall not allow that bastard of thought to rise. We, who shed our very blood for Newman’s vision, will not let a mere figment of mind present itself. When you ride under that black flag with its streaks of light, you do so with more than valour. Thought itself is on your side.

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”

Let the men of Shelbourne bring their final fight. Doom is already certain for this ship of the dead. Over 32 games they have proven they do not belong amongst such fine company. The 33rd should not give them opportunity to vanquish the noble. We are but Students for the working day, our gayness and our gilt our all besmirched but by the mass our hearts our in the trim. Save though thy labour men of Shelbourne. Comst now no more for doubt gentle Reds, we have none I swear it. The Wanderer will walk that road upon the morn. The Belfieldians, strong and true, will sleep long and well. We know battle. We will not seek it nor shall we shun it. Ready yourselves. The blue horde approaches.

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

St Crispin’s Day will always be about 1415 to this writer. I would be honoured to think of 2013 as a fine second.

Now Belfieldians march way, and how thou pleasest Martin, dispose the day.

2 Responses to “To hell with the Rubicon”

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