Unsung Hero?

WalfordBurrLyon300Post match review led by Timmy, on the right

No he isn’t, he can’t be. If just about everyone says RFC first XV prop Tim Walford is an unsung hero then how can he be? And here’s another contradiction – in the world of hairy-arsed front row hardmen how many are known to one and all as Timmy? Pit Bull perhaps, Fun Bus maybe, ....but Timmy?

It doesn’t end there. How many Old Etonians are props? Out in the backs there are probably a good few OEs fragrantly gracing the game, but not that many in the forwards at the muddy, sweaty, grunting end. But a prop he is, though he doesn’t quite look it. He’s a lump, sure enough, and to get 19 stone in a bit less than six feet he must be made out of lead, but he has a pleasant, open face, an engaging manner and a ready smile. The Beast, he isn’t.

He’s London born and started his rugby at Eton, skippering the firsts, though he doesn’t particularly like to be a captain - his dad should probably ask the school for his money back because isn’t it supposed to produce leaders? But when asked Tim’s only comment on his alma mater is that ‘it’s not true we had to wear top hats’. A gap year followed with a lot of skiing and an introduction to RFC at the tender age of 18. He’s grateful for the ready acceptance, he particularly mentions Owen Gregory, and the comradeship and help he found at the club, and has especially fond memories of the New Year student games against the Scots which RFC always seemed to win.

Then on to Durham to do Psychology, with a fourth year in Management Studies which he greatly enjoyed, and he again makes the point that he played with some fine footballers up there and he was lucky to do so. You do get the impression that he’s very much a ‘team’ man in his wish to share credit with others. He returned to London, moved back in with his parents in Barnes, and worked his way up to break into the firsts in the 2011 season. He adores being a prop, says it’s the best position there is, and aims to get better at it.

He works for a small, diverse company on Tite Street by the Embankment. It’s a classy part of town and that somewhat compensates for the often long hours he puts in as a financial analyst with a bit of property development thrown in. The property side of things gives him a buzz and he’d like to do more going forward. In the spare time between work, training and playing he has a steady girlfriend and a social life he says is ‘normal’.

Back with RFC rugby and the current side he has solid opinions to offer. On the suggestion that the forwards have adapted more readily than the backs to the promotion and the subsequently tougher fixtures he points out that everyone has stepped up a league but whilst he’s quite sure that the front five are a handful for anyone, the rest of the team are rapidly coming to terms with Nat One. He’s a realist and forecasts top middle table this season, with personal must-wins against Loughborough (player connections) and OAs. Top 2 or 3 next season ‘is completely achievable’.

Promotion? Still the realist he believes that, although the Premiership is the ultimate goal for anyone, realistically where we are now is as high as we can get as a predominantly amateur club. To go up as we are would mean we couldn’t compete on all kinds of levels and we’d find ourselves eventually demoralised.  ‘For one thing a lot of the boys would struggle for time’.

Any wishes for Father Christmas? John Kingston had been over recently to do some scrum coaching and Tim says they all found that session very rewarding and they’d like more of the same, please. He also light-heartedly says something about soap in the showers, and I’m about to make some smutty crack when I think better of it, but it appears the boys want a soap dispenser thingie. RAA please note. Otherwise he’s a contented soul, confident and articulate, and very happy at RFC.

What else should we know before we finish up? Well, he used to play the trumpet and he says every prop should play a wind instrument. No, I didn’t get it either, but that’s the Timmy contradiction – OE prop and the unsung hero everybody sings the praises of.

Paul Grindrod