Thu, 27 Oct 2016
ONE score years at Monks Lane brought four score and more memories of players from those two decades back to the ground last week to mark those 20 years at the ground.
There have been ‘downs’, of course, but it was the many ‘ups’ that dominated the evening as players and officials from those generations of teams gathered to remember some golden days of facing Leicester, Northampton, Harlequins, Western Samoa and the rest.
And there was also the need to pay tribute to those who had helped to carry the club through its darkest moments, when it was on the brink of oblivion and there was a united tribute to club president David Smith for holding the club together before it emerged intact and back on the winning trail.
“We had some great games and some tricky times,” he said, while praising Newbury Building Society and even the ‘tax man’ for their roles in helping to secure the club’s survival and future.
But it was an evening for looking back to the past, and great and popular players were together again, most still looking as if they could be on the team list for Saturday. Almost the entire cracking back line of the side that swept through the club’s debut National League campaign were there, record try scorer Brian Johnson, fellow winger Tom Holloway, centres Nick and Tim Osman, playmaker Kendal Smith and full back Nick Grecian, whose 399 points remains a seasonal record.
Tripping forward were Simon Gully and Andy Duke, who organised the event alongside David Smith and Morgan Davis, Jeremy Griffiths, Tom Radbourne, Simon Carter, Chris Hart and members of the squad that took Newbury Blues into what is now The Championship under Ben Ryan, while former Wales and Blues coach Kevin Bowring also returned to the club, having recently retired after 14 years as the RFU's Head of Professional Coach Development.
And even now, David Smith could express his pride at the club’s support at home and away: “It’s an amazingly supported club,” he said, which was underlined as around £2,500 was raised for the British Heart Foundation from an auction of lots donated by Ben Ryan, Kevin Bowring and Blues’ former England winger David Rees among others.
In the end, there were points galore again on Blues’ scoreboard, with the promise to do it all again!
PICTURED, past and present players and officials gather to cheer 20 memorable years