Cheers to STATO and all the other helpful responses.
To be fair, this is a club I used to ride with regularly but stopped riding with for one reason or another for a year. I went out with the beginners group to get back into the swing of group riding. It's a good thing I did, because I've forgotten a lot of things. Sure, nervous brakers are annoying but we all have to start somewhere. In the faster groups it's not uncommon to never brake unless it's for traffic or road signs where the group gives you plenty of notice. With a beginners group you've got a lot more unpredictable stuff going on meaning you can never fully switch off and get on the rivet.
The ride leader was a lady by the way guys! I think her advice was sound. I'd have asked her, but I didn't get a chance to and I don't want to wait till the next ride. It does make sense to soft-pedal unless you're getting a free tow and it probably does make you less prone to yo-yo-ing off the person in the front. There's an etiquette element too I guess.
I'm not sure why people are getting worked up by roadie questions on Singletrack. It's a pretty friendly and knowledgeable place about bikes. You'd be an idiot not to put it to use.
Those of you who're saying you're put off by road riding, please don't be! Riding in a group and road riding are things I've wished I started doing a long time ago. It's made my mountain biking a hell of a lot more enjoyable and the lack of relative faff means I can ride a bike pretty much anytime I want to. At the end of the day it's all riding bikes like some wise people keep saying isn't it?
I've just gotten back from a 15km run. Now that is an activity with absolutely no redeeming qualities.