"There's only one Quigley, only one Andy Quigley"

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Interviewing Andy Quigley, RFC all-round hero, is a bit like watching mild, unassuming Clark Kent go into a phone box and coming out as Superman. Your jaw drops. You’re inclined to doubt that the seemingly ordinary man you think you know might have rather more about him than previously suspected, but that’s the undeniable truth of it.

Let’s start with the mild, unassuming bit. Quigs is a proud Welshman, born in Llanelli sixty-odd years ago and educated at the local grammar school where he played on the wing. And that’s about all the rugby he played because other, more exotic pastimes claimed him, and more of that later, though there was some further education at Swansea Tech with an HNC in Business Studies.

Now jump forward to his arrival at RFC in 1986 as under 8s Manager, progressing to Minis Chairman between 87 and 92 then Youth Chairman 92 to 98. He managed the Colts 86 to 92 and the u21s 98/99. After the debacle of the professional era he was one of the core volunteers who resurrected the club, being Chairman of Senior Sides 99 to 05 and Senior Club Manager and Senior Fixture Secretary 06 to date.

He talks about the difficult years with a wry smile, but then again he talks about everything with a wry smile. RFC had no fixtures the first year following the catastrophe so played our u21 side against anyone who’d give us a game. We owed Cardiff a fixture so went there to run out to a packed stadium and a 97-28 hammering – they substituted Rob Howley for Robert Jones so that gives you an idea of the gulf in class, but our much superior Welsh opposition took it in good part.

And he grimly recalls that the RFU wouldn’t initially let us go on an already paid-for tour to South Africa because we didn’t exist as a club in their eyes. Tough times, but it was the start of a memorable progress up the leagues which very nearly got RFC the world record for undefeated games. He’s very proud of what was done and what was achieved back then by members with an attitude of ‘never say die.’

But enough of the rugby, Superman won’t be delayed any longer. Would you believe he was once lead singer and bass player in a prog-rock band called May-Fisher? Quigs? Our serene  and sensible match day announcer was once a hairy rock monster, he really was. They played the infamous Reeperbahn in Hamburg in 71 before touring Yugoslavia, Greece, Holland, Germany and France. He says it was “good fun,” in an understatement of about 9 on the Richter scale.

After several years of this the band, now named Jack Straw for reasons I missed, also having been known as  Spread Eagle for a while, ended up with a residency at the Marquee club, and that’s pretty major league. They even made a record and checking it out I came across a quote about it – “a very rare UK group with heavy guitars that released this 45rpm in Yugoslavia on the RTB label back in 1972.” A copy recently sold for £70 on Ebay to someone in Japan, apparently.

He married childhood sweetheart Lynda in 73 and took to living in Streatham. Because of his now extensive experience touring with a band he got work with Joe Brown as a Road Manager, then with Barclay James Harvest. In 78 with Lynda expecting their son he linked up with Pink Floyd for 6 months in the South of France and then six months in LA, where he casually mentions he lived in Beverley Hills. As you do.

He’s spent quite a lot of time working with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, a guy he has a lot of time for, though he’s also road managed European tours with Bob Seeger, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Roxy Music and, gulp, Frank Sinatra, and he admits to still working on the fringes of the music business these days.

Does he ever pick up his axe? “No, I was just a bass player in a three chord band, and anyway I settled down in 82 or 83.” But the phrase ‘been there and done that’, often tossed casually around these days, fits him like a glove. When he reminisces about Roger Waters and various artists doing ‘The Wall’ in Berlin, just after the real thing was torn down, you know he’s seen and done things few of us could contemplate.

Back in Clark Kent mode he’s a backbone and a heartbeat for the club. He does too much to list here, but most readers will know the extent of his involvement. He says his wish is to see RFC playing at the highest level possible. The Powers That Be say of him “We appreciate that there are many volunteers who go that extra mile but Andy goes at least ten extra miles”

So, there we are. Did he over-egg the rock thing? Does it all sound a bit unlikely? Well, you’ll find me at the end of the bar with a laptop and a pile of tenners very happy to take bets that it’s all true.

Or you can go onto YouTube, enter “Spread Eagle to tired to see” (not a typo) and there he is - Quigs, lead vocals, bass player and Rock Monster. I kid you not.

Paul Grindrod

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