The changing rooms at Preston Grasshoppers have always appeared quite large compared to those of many local clubs in the North West, but when you are trying to fit 25 players and a TV camera crew the space is somewhat diminished. That was the situation on Saturday for Keith ‘Dad’ Brierley’s final game for the club.
It just goes to show how much respect there is for Keith around the club when players old and new turned out to mark the occasion. Graham Cox, Richard Sharples and Ian Ashton all dusted their boots off to grace the field once again (it has been noted that they all still have boots which is the main criteria for a 6th team player!!!). Many Strollers turned out to support their old team mate, and even a couple of the current Colts turned up to play which is a testament to the influence Dad has across the entire spectrum of the club.
After a guard of honour from the 1st team and 6th team, we finally managed to drag Keith away from his media duties and kissing babies on the first team pitch. The team talk was delivered and the game against Blackpool 1st got underway. Blackpool were a much improved side from the one we played earlier in the seasons. Their physicality at the breakdown was excellent making Preston work for every ball. Their quick backs ensured that the hard work up front paid dividends. The game was still in the balance at half time but a couple of well taken break away tries in the second half secured the deserved win for the visitors. Final score, Preston 24 – Blackpool 33.
It was a quiet game on the wing for our retiree, but odd glimpses of the old skills were very apparent. A beautifully taken high ball in the second half, a step inside, over the top of the tackler and a weighted offload to the support player showed a touch of class that any player would have been proud of.
Work on the pitch complete Keith’s final match day ended in true rugby style. A few beers and a curry!!! Well done Keith from all at Preston Grasshoppers.
Words by 6th XV captain Ian Gaskell
BBC Northwest Tonight Footage
Hoppers welcomed the BBC on Saturday who filmed footage for the segment which appeared on BBC North West Tonight. You can view it below.
Thanks to Rebecca Finch for allowing us to use her excellent photos which you can view below.