Gareth Dyer’s Ultimate XV

Date: 11 December 2011

In a new regular piece to the website, we will be asking a variety of players, coaches and members from within the club to come up with their Ultimate XV. Their selected side must be comprised of players that they have either played with or against (or both) during their playing careers.

Where possible we will be asking for them to comment on their selections to highlight why the chosen players have been picked. The only criteria for selection is that they must have been on the field of play with the chosen player on at least one occasion.

In the first article the website asked Rugby Committee member Gareth Dyer to come up with his chosen XV. The comments are completely his!

1) Alan Paver – Played with him for Lancashire U21’s and against him numerous times when he was at Vale. Alan was freakishly strong from being a grave digger by trade! His dead pan humour was pretty fitting as well. Not surprised he has had a long pro career.

2) Steve Brain – I was 19 and playing my 5th ever first team game where as the former England hooker Brain was 41 and probably playing one of his final games. To say I got a lesson in the art of hooking that day is putting it mildly! He took delight in smashing me on and off the ball at every opportunity until he had enough fun and went off after an hour to rest his knuckles!! Top man though, in the bar afterwards he bought me a pint and went through my game in great detail giving me some valuable advice which I used from then on.

3) Andy Ridehalgh – Played with Riders at Blackburn and he was a superb prop. He was selected for the full Lancashire squad whilst at Blackburn which was a great achievement. Strong and really fit he made my job in the scrum easy.

4) Steve Borthwick – I played with Steve at school and for Hoppers and I’d like to think it was my lineout throwing that made him the supreme lineout technician he became (probably because it was so wayward it developed his dexterity and reactions!). Steve was a real team man and I felt he was harshly treated by England and I believe that the off the field problems at the recent World Cup wouldn’t have happened if he had been captain.

5) Dean Schofield – Played against Dean for a few seasons whilst he was at Aldwinians. We didn’t really hit it off on the pitch and had a bit of a running battle for a couple of seasons before he went straight into the Sale starting XV. He was big, hard and happy to play his weight and very skilful for such a big man.

6) Alex Sanderson – Alex was an incredibly hard player from a young age with no thought for his own safety. His tackling was simply awesome and I was gutted for him when he had to call it a day at such a young age.

7) Pat Sanderson – Can’t pick Alex and not pick older brother the “Mayor of Worcester” as well! A top bloke, an excellent player and someone who led by example both on and off the pitch. A long career at the very top shows just how good he really was.

8 ) Derek Eves – One of the biggest influences on my rugby when I was a youngster at Coventry. He was 100% rugby all the time. His training sessions were legendary for their ferocity and the “hairdryer” would be out if he felt you weren’t pulling your weight. Incredible that he never got capped as he was a one man wrecking ball mixed with a superb rugby brain. Despite being hard on the pitch he was a top man off the field.

9) Paul Bleasdale – I played with and against some excellent scrum halves and for most of my career with Paul. Good kicker and prolific try scorer, incredibly cocky for a ginge!

10) Steve Kerry – Got to stick Kez in as he provides me with free ale every time I see him! Seriously though he was a superb footballer and brilliant goal kicker and he once saved me from a bit of kicking at Vale! Just edges out Colin Stephens on the basis that Colin doesn’t work for Thwaites!

11) Andy Graham – Off the field he is a top businessman, heading up his well known family firm with one of the best known brand names in their area of industry. Articulate, well educated and erudite, something just happened to him the moment he went across the whitewash. It was like a madman had been released! Thumping hits, great tries and all round team man, I used to love my early morning match day messages which took on a “Churchillian” tone each week!

12) John Devereux – The former Wales, Lions and GB Rugby League player was called “crazy horse” and growing up he was one of my heroes. I was in my first full season of senior rugby and I made the fatal mistake of running straight at him early in a game. To this day I’m not sure how I remained in one piece. He had to go off though shortly afterwards tho!!!

13) B J Mather – In the same game as Devereux was BJ and you can imagine the size of that centre partnership!!! Extremely talented and again as tough as nails I remember being pretty sore the day after.

14) Nick Booth – Boothy was the fastest thing I’ve seen on two legs. Give him half a yard and he was gone. Excellent goalkicker too.

15) John Kirkpatrick – Could have picked “Kirky” anywhere in the back line. He was a brilliant runner and totally fearless. He used to train like a pro when we were in our teens and it was no surprise to me when he got his chance in Super League with St. Helens. Top man off the field as well!

Honourable Mentions:

The SAS front row at Hereford!

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