Mr President and his 'Minder'. He's the one on the left!
I am both honoured and delighted to have been invited to be President of Richmond Football Club, although at the same time it is quite a daunting prospect!
Coming from Wigan I was brought up on rugby, albeit a different code, and every schoolboy dreamt of the day he would run out at Central Park the home of Wigan rugby league, the greatest team in the World. I played Rugby Union at school and joined my local rugby union side, Wigan, on leaving school. Despite my schoolboy dreams my career as a solicitor made rugby league impossible and I reluctantly turned down offers to join the mighty Wigan. I moved across town to join Orrell, akin to moving from Arsenal to Spurs, where I spent five years and was fortunate to play for Lancashire when County rugby meant something and the Lancashire team had ten internationals. In 1980 I moved to Liverpool (not St Helens) and played for three years before moving to London to join the Tote as company solicitor.
In my last game for Liverpool I broke my ankle and at 29 moved to London with no real intention of playing serious rugby again. But I was fortunate to join Richmond in 1983 and, having shaved a few years off my age, played four years for the first team until retiring aged 34. Numerous ‘retirements’ later I played my last game for the Heavies (aged 55) when a Fijian broke 3 of my ribs - very painful!
Unlike many rival teams, Richmond Football Club has stayed true to its traditions, providing rugby for four senior men’s teams plus heavies and students in addition to its successful women’s section and thriving minis and youth. Nevertheless, the Club plays in a competitive environment and we all want to see the first team challenging for promotion from National League 1. We are fortunate that the Richmond name and traditions brings many new players to the club - and this summer has been no different - with a number of potential first teamers joining. In August The first team squad spent a weekend away in Brighton, I am reliably informed by Steve Hill in an intensive training camp. The following weekend, over trained and heavy legged, (echoes of England) the first team lost in the last minute in a trial game at Old Albanian. In a welcome return to form, in the final trial match against Bishops Stortford, the firsts over powered the opposition and were dominant in all phases by the end of the match, winning 31-5.
This weekend we face Plymouth away in our first league match. We expect to feature a number of new recruits, never an easy task at the start of the season but Plymouth have just been relegated from the Championship and are rumoured to have recruited a whole new team. Even so we can expect a difficult game but it is one we should win.
The proposed ground redevelopment is reaching a critical stage with lawyers now involved! And, although there are still a number of hurdles to be overcome, hopefully we will soon reach agreement with the developers and we can start to build facilities at Richmond which will be the envy of all clubs outside the Premiership.
Richmond’s season is about to start, it’s Rugby World Cup year, so what’s not to like? I can’t wait!