On Saturday 2nd April Sevenoaks play the return League game v Tunbridge Wells at Home. It promises to be a humdinger and to whet your appetite the club will be hosting a supporters and past players lunch before the game. In traditional fashion there will be a short address after the meal - this time from Graham Hughes. You will have spotted him on TV and shouted at him to 'get on with it' since he is one of the TMO adjudicators for the current 6 Nations Series and many previous internationals. He has promised that his address will not be similarly be prolonged. There's also the impromptu matter of an SGM to wade quickly through... and a misty-eyed welcome from the Chairman below...can you spot him in the sepia montage?
Chairman’s Misty Memories
A very warm welcome to the Sevenoaks Rugby Former Players lunch, and I hope we can all wander down memory lane today recalling games, people and places that have enriched our lives- we are all privileged to be part of this special rugby family.
Speaking personally, the 30-odd years that I was lucky enough to enjoy on the pitch was pretty evenly divided between leagues and pre-leagues. I have to say I do feel nostalgic for the old days of playing block fixtures against old friends and rivals from 1st XV to the B XV.
We now have an honours board celebrating league appearances, but nothing to acknowledge some great players and club men who played before leagues were invented; of course, the records are incomplete!
Men of Sevenoaks travelled together in hope and returned, win or lose, to normal life for a week; which isn’t to say it didn’t matter, quite the opposite. I am grateful that both the game and this club have been a great source of comfort as well as enjoyment over the years.
We were satisfied with 80-minutes hard graft and a few pints, but don’t confuse that thought with low standards or soft games. And then there were tours to Pernod-drenched Pontoise with its unique skippers toast, ‘clear the sheep off the pitch first’ North Ribblesdale, where our former Chairman sang about a lobster. or even Caribbean chic Cayman Islands to visit our very own Playboy Policemen.
No rolling subs, no feverish smart phone action in the bar to check the rest of the league results, which club has gone bust this week or poached a star player... and perhaps most of all, each match was important of itself, good or bad and only Cup games had consequences.
We were regularly visited by first class clubs for the Sevenoaks Sevens and Richard Langhorn’s Harlequins v President’s XV matches; the most notable for me was in 2003, just a few months before England’s sweetest victory of all in Sydney, when Laurence Dallaglio risked Clive Woodward’s wrath and a fine by turning out against us in memory of Langers- that would probably not happen today.
Our game has ‘moved on’, we now speak about investing in raising standards, coaching children from the age of five, of our Academy winning National Cups; the modern rugby family devotes at least half of its weekend to the game, all of which is certainly progress if kept in perspective, but we should 'be careful what we wish for’- I never forget where we came from, and how inclusive and rewarding life can be when cash is neither the means nor the end.
Having played such an admirable role in our past, I would like as many former players here today as possible to play an active part in our future. Who better to ensure that we never lose sight of rugby's values?
One notable development is that it's now just ten steps from the bar to a pitch side view of the 1st XV! Now that is progress.
Here's to you and to many many future generations of Sevenoaks Rugby players getting as much from the game as we have.
Trevor Nicholson, Chairman