On Saturday the 1st XV take on Luctonians down at Lightfoot Green at 2.30pm. We are pleased to be welcoming Haleys Chartered Accountants as our main match sponsor. Ahead of the game we managed to catch up with Managing Director Tim Haley to ask him some questions about his business but also his rugby playing days.
Who are Haleys and what services do they offer?
Haleys are a firm of chartered accountants who provide financial, taxation and commercial expertise for established business owners. Helping them increase profitability, maximise capital value, protect their assets and enjoy life to the full.
What connections do Haleys have to Preston Grasshoppers?
I set up my business 20 years ago this year! I can remember ringing Brent Horton to tell him I may need to miss a few weeks as I’d be busy.
We have supported the club ever since. We’ve sponsored games, entertained at sportsman’s, advertised in the program and pitch side and hired rooms for seminars.
As a firm we have close ties with many of the business people who use hoppers and we helped establish the Hoppers Business Network with Baileys Financial Services, Harrison Drury Solicitors and the club.
Why should members of Preston Grasshoppers consider using Haleys services?
The vast majority of business owners have no idea and have not really considered – what their personal and business objectives are.
The vast majority of accountants are not interested either!
We want to establish where you are now and where you want to get to. We then use our commercial, accounting and taxation skills to help you build a more profitable and more valuable business. The enjoyment comes when we show you how being less involved IN your business, actually drives profitability and higher multiples on sale.
Why are Haleys keen to sponsor a 1st XV game at Hoppers?
We want to support and be associated with the club. Hoppers is a quite unique rugby club that touches the lives of thousands of people.
It’s just a great place to meet people and entertain guests. There’s a saying about ‘would you take that person back home for dinner to meet your mum’, well I can’t think of any one at Hoppers that I wouldn’t be pleased to introduce a guest to. We are all different and we’re all a big family.
Tell us a little about your playing career at Hoppers.
I joined the club in September 1978 when I came along as a fresher at Preston Poly. I got to the bus stop on Garstang Road and Dave Percy was there waiting to catch the bus – so he helped me settle in and introduced me to everyone. My abiding memory of that first training session was afterwards in the bath staring in amazement at the two eyes tattooed on Bob Thornthwaite’s back side only a few inches from my face!
I played in the colts (managed by our present club president Malcom) until Christmas to get to know the lads my age and then had a go in the seniors. I’d been playing first team junior rugby in the midlands the previous season and managed to get 6 games with the Hoppers First XV by the end on my first season. Many of the lads from the 78/79 colts carried on playing like myself for many years. Stuart Crane is still flying the flag for us!
I played for the poly for three years captaining them in my second year. We had a first XV and occasional second team as the poly was about a tenth of the size of what became UCLAN.
It all went downhill from there! I played mainly second XV until I left the area in 1981 and moved to London for 4 years during which I hardly played whilst studying for professional exams. I made some great friends during my 3 years in Lancashire and loved the area and countryside so I returned to Preston complete with wife and two kids in 1985 (blame Martin Hothersall who found me a job in his firm). At that time the first team was under Dick Greenwood. I got fit, got in the first team squad and broke my ankle in pre-season!
After that I played mainly second XV and the stellar career was fizzling out under the demands of family and work when the Strollers saved me at the ripe old age of 30. I was nabbed at Martin Hothersall’s wedding reception.
I played in the strollers for the next 13 years and captained them for two. We had great teams and great fun and I got to know a lot of the up and coming colts on the low country tours. After that I played for Cally’s vets and hung my boots up at the ripe old age of 48. I then had a quick(?) blast at Dad Brierley’s testimonial on Boxing Day 2011. I managed 10 minutes but playing with my youngest son Michael was special.
How is former Preston mini/junior and your son Mike getting on at Sale Sharks?
Mike’s now in his second year under contract at Sale. He played two full games at full back last season. This included a premiership debut against Northampton Saints at age 18 watched by a crowd of over 13,000!
Sale sent him to South Africa to play Currie cup U19 rugby over the last summer. Within 24 hours of his return he was playing in the A league for Sale Jets against Falcons. The Jets had a good side this year beating Leicester away and they also beat Northampton and Gloucester with Mike getting a try in each of those games.
He’s played 4 first team games to date this season – getting MoM in two of them. The first versus Bath in the LV cup when he got his first try and the second against Worcs Warriors in the LV. He is due to start against Osprey’s this Friday.
Sale are having a cracking season this year and he hopes to manage a few more first team games before the end of the season. It’s also great to see former mini/junior Andrew Hughes getting some 1st XV action at Sale too.
By the way, his Godfather is that man again – Martin Hothersall – weird and no he looks like me!
What is your favourite game you played for Hoppers?
If you’ll forgive me three! First was a second XV game against Sale FC second XV away in 1980(?). I was playing with Wade Dooley before he got famous. Sale were in a different league for the first 25 minutes and had some very tasty backs. Anyway we buckled down in the forwards, the backs tackled like lions – and we got a draw.
Second was game in the late 90’s Strollers versus our arch rivals Wigan Vets. Mal Armstrong was the captain and we put out a strong team i.e. old heads who had played at a good level plus some pace. Wigan turned up with three ex Rugby League internationals including Graham West the then manager of a great Wigan RL side. We battered them with Lyndsay Hurst tackling in the centre like a Kamikaze pilot.
Third, and this just makes me smile. Cally’s vets playing against some side full of flying students. Can’t remember when or who but those playing that day will. We conceded 4 converted tries in 20 minutes. 28:0 down. The team got in to a huddle and the forwards decided that it would be best if we no longer supplied the girls with any ball. We stuffed it up our jumpers and stuffed them 42-28!
Most memorable game you saw Hoppers play?
I was a substitute when hoppers played Orrell at home in the semi-final of the Lancashire cup 1980 or 1981. Orrell were a mighty side in those days with internationals and county players. The county side was serious as was the cup. So this was a massive fixture for the club. The weather was awful but we fought like lions and lost by not a lot.
Three things stand out: just before the match we did extra training and Brent Horton the captain asked me to put someone on my shoulders to practice squats. I did – you didn’t argue with Brent. He asked us to go up against a wall – then before I know it, Brent lifted me on his shoulders with the other guy on top of me! We stayed like this until Brent had finished his squats! Second, the legendary Dranny – Roy Dransfield had an amazing game on the flank. He was a constant thorn in Orrell’s side and on several occasions made vast distances dribbling the ball down the pitch. He got mentioned in the national papers for bringing back the lost art of dribbling. Third, in those days there were no tactical substitutions but one of our pack came off and Bob Thompson almost flattened me in his rush to get on the pitch and in to the game. No one else was going on!
Who is the best player you have played with at Hoppers?
It’s hard to pick because I have played with so many great players at hoppers but I think I’ll go for scrum half Dave Percy. He played 500 odd first XV games for hoppers and when I first met him when he was 20, he played for Gosforth (who were then the leading team in the land) – when there first choice scrum half was playing for England. Dave was so professional in his approach to every facet of the game. He was totally dedicated and really thought about the game and was one of Hoppers greatest servants. Great player!
Who will win the 6 Nations?
My head tells me Wales, my heart tells me England. We gave NZ a fright and we now have a world class pack. So I think we may just do Wales at Twickenham. I hope so – I’m going.
What’s your prediction for the game this Saturday?
Hoppers. I’ve followed the first XV quite a bit since I’ve retired. To shunt the Stourbridge pack backwards two weeks ago and beat Otley away shows we’re getting it together.
Hoppers by 15 points.
Thanks to Tim for providing us with the answers to our questions. We hope that Tim and his colleagues, clients and guests enjoy a great day at Lightfoot Green on Saturday.