Killerton versus Weston Hornets

by Martin Hannant

Every now and again Killerton Rugby team was asked to put out a team to stand in for St Lukes 3rd team – it is hornetimportant to realise this was actually their fifth team as they had an ‘extra first team and an extra second team.- (Ed: I don't think I would have mentione that bit!)

This particular day we were to play against Weston Hornets. It was either 1973 or 1974. We arrived to find a group of rather large gentlemen standing outside the club. They were quick to inform us we were not playing them as they were only the third team and we were playing their firsts. On further investigation it turns out they were expecting St Lukes ‘extra’ firsts – a team which at that time had Mike Slemen, Dave Bircher and Mike Rafter in their number all of whom went in to gain international honours.

I, the least talented player ever to turn out for Killerton (but very enthusiastic), at about twelve stone and 5’8 was asked to fill in as prop – a position I had never played before. (It certainly wouldn’t be allowed today) I know that I spent most of the scrums with my feet in the air and my head much closer to the ground. I think Ian Phillips was hooking but I am 100% sure that Stuart Leach was pushing behind me very forcibly in the second row. During the course of the game I had a number of my body parts rearranged which took several weeks for them to resume to their normal position. I remember Roger Shipp was playing and possibly Tim Cottle as well.

I also remember this game because one of their supporters was caught trying to trip up one of our players as he ran down the wing. They also liked to refer to us as schoolboys.

In spite of everything we actually won – something like 18-15. How on earth we did it I will never know and it was very pleasing to see the result in the Sunday Telegraph the following day. We certainly celebrated that night and I sang with a very high voice in the chapel choir the next morning.