I played for a variety of clubs for 20 odd years, starting as an 18 year old who had never held a rugby ball before in his life for a team started in my home town, Formby, by ex Swinton and Wales hooker Dickie Evans (Lionel Hurst was also involved in the clubs inception). After a first season of making only limited appearances as sub and most often on the wing, I began to play in the front row, alternating between prop and hooker. This in 1982 as a 5' 9'', 13st, 19 year old up against mainly 16st plus blokes in their thirties who had been around the game for donkey’s years.
The amateur game was pretty tough back then, however with the introduction of the new rules (10m gap, handover on the 6th etc) the emphasis started to change to the speedier, skillful version we see today and the old dinosaurs who would happily chop your head off all day long faded away.
When Formby folded in the mid 80s, I ended up going to Pilks in St Helens where I had a regular place in their 2nd team, playing in the NWC 2nd division. However work commitments meant I could no longer train so eventually left and ended up playing for my local union team, where indecently, Faz like I, was moved from my league front row position to centre (as I was told by their coach to "make best use of my speed and handling abilities"
). It was playing union that, filling in the back row of the scrum one game, I tore my crucate (sp) knee ligament keeping me of work for a long period of time.
I got over the injury and started playing again for a team in West Lancashire, Tarleton where I stayed for many years.
I also ended up playing for my university team, John Moores in the early 2000s as a 38 year old. Boy that was a bit tough as all the other players were so much younger and faster
, before ending my career at Southport, playing my last game at the age of 42.
I still really miss it
, and wouldn't mind finding a decent local team to go and support this winter.