The Richmond 'Way'

We’ve got our fair share of curiosities and eccentrics at Richmond Rugby - those who don’t quite fit the mould of normality. Take Andy Quigley, Rock God, world traveller and first team shirt sorter. What about the sweetly named Timmy Walford, Old Etonian gentleperson and Front Row hardcase? Then there’s Lord of the Pitches John Davison, muscle man and grassmower jockey. Here’s another – Patrick Way QC, renowned tax specialist and barrister, and our Fourth Official touchline supremo at the RAA these several years past.

Google him and you come up with “acts in cases where the tax at stake may run into hundreds of millions of pounds, and “he is the tax barrister to the stars.” You find he’s literally written the book on this stuff, for instance ‘Death and Taxes’, which sounds like a real page-turner, and authored learned pieces on fascinations such as how to maximise opportunities under the Business Expansion Scheme. His clients include major corporations as well as famous celebrities, charities and wealthy individuals.

He enjoyed a wider degree of fame when he wrote to The Financial Times vis a vis the Labour wheeze to tax people in homes worth more than £2 million, saying “ ‘Mansion’ dwellers may not be wealthy”. The Pink ‘Un rightly backed him up by agreeing that just because your house had risen significantly in value it didn’t automatically follow that you had megabucks in the bank, but the headband and sandal brigade had a ball with it. He was amused.

Debretts (would you believe) has him born in 1954 to teacher parents, and he has a brother who runs the Historic Houses Association. In school at Solihull he played every sport – football, hockey, hurdling – he could ‘kick and catch’, he says, but he claims not to have been a great academic. Then on to Leeds University where he read English and played football as centre forward for the Department, emerging with a degree three years later.

What got him into The Law? It appears he bought a ‘dog’ of a car and a solicitor vastly impressed him by getting his money back. That’s the job for me, he decided, and so embarked on further studies to become one. He kept his head above water by being a milkman for 6 months, during which time he crashed the float and got propositioned more than once, perhaps because he says he looked like Donny Osmond at the time. You sure, Patrick? Whatever, about that time he certainly caught the eye of Judy. She’s now his wife, besides being a solicitor, magistrate and tribunal judge, but the suspicion remains it was his legal arguments which won her over rather than Donny’s bouffant hair and toothy smirk.

He qualified in 1979, and soon realised he wanted to be a barrister, but built up his experience, particularly in tax, over the next few years. At 28 he moved into the West End and had great clients, sports and celebrities, becoming a partner at 31 and was head hunted as a tax specialist at 33. But the nagging wish to be a barrister kept gnawing at him and when he was 39 Judy laid it on the line – do it or a divorce – selling their house to finance the step. He was called to the Bar at Lincolns Inn in 1994 and ‘took silk’ becoming a Queens Counsel in 2013. It’s recognition from your peers that you have reached a certain level in the profession.

He’d been a season ticket holder at Arsenal and had taken his boys to watch a few games, but the less than genteel atmosphere in the grounds made soccer unsuitable for watching youngsters, and he turned to rugby, specifically Quins, then on to Richmond in 1991. From then until 2006, fifteen years, he was heavily involved in minis and youth via his sons, and nowadays remarks with some pride on those of his fledglings who are now superstars, like the Armitage brothers, and the tours he was involved in either as a coach or a parent – Ireland (3), France (2), South Africa (2), Australia, Fiji and New Zealand.

Besides the coaching he reffed for the kids, learning on the job as it were, and also began taking an interest in senior rugby. His debut as an official at the higher level came about because a touch judge didn’t show and Quigs sent him on - the start of a new involvement with RFC which saw him working with coaches Andy Marren, Brett Taylor, Geoff Richards and more recently Steve Hill, and culminated in his appointment as the obligatory Fourth Official when we moved up to Nat 1. He’s just retired from the job, but by no means from the Club, and will continue as an avid spectator, and as a Director, which is just as well as he’s very highly regarded indeed for his quiet diplomacy and constant focus on a successful conclusion. Good job he’s not billing us for his services.

He loves Richmond Rugby, no doubt about it. Why? He cites in no particular order the good level of rugby, the multitude of teams, the fact we’re solvent, the atmosphere, the prospects for the future, the volunteers, and the work/sport balance of the players amongst other attractions.  Waving a magic wand he’d like to see a stadium with a 4000 capacity, whilst retaining the ‘Richmond Way’ model. As many know he’s been intimately involved recently in the fundamental changes to the Club ownership, now pretty much done and dusted, and remarking on the future says

“I’m looking forward to the challenges which the forthcoming redevelopment of the ground will bring, and also the rewards. If everything goes to plan we’ll have one of the best stadiums available for teams of our level. Onwards and upwards.”

PG 26/6/2015.