In the latest instalment of our Ultimate XV feature, former player Ian Dyer (father of Rugby Committee member Gareth) gives us his thoughts on the fifteen players that he would pull together to do battle in his all time XV.
A wing forward by trade, Dyer Snr first joined Hoppers in the 1973/4 season having moved to the area from South Wales. He played club rugby in the tough valley club ‘friendlies’ during and after his studies at Loughborough University. The University side eventually merged with the Loughborough Colleges side to form the Loughborough Students RUFC outfit. He played at Hoppers for ten years before having to retire due to a recurrent neck problem.
Following his retirement he was invited to be a member of the Selection Committee (remember those!) at a time when Hoppers staged something of a renaissance making their first Lancashire Cup Final appearance, a trick they were to repeat twice in three years. Following that he became a referee on the local social rugby circuit whilst he coached Hopper’s Under 16’s to a Lancashire cup win.
He was also selected by Keith Brierley’s in his “Ultimate Hoppers XV” and which was the inspiration for this feature.
Ian has picked a XV containing only players he played with during his time at Hoppers but has also made reference to the best players he faced whilst playing in a Hoppers shirt. As usual, the comments attached are those of the selector.
1) Stan Sherlock – A good looking as well as proficient scrummager with the ability to score from wide out. We played against Fran Cotton during my time at Hoppers. He was returning from injury for Sale. I bet Stu Crane remembers it well!
2) Stuart Crane – A pure technician at hooker who left the rough stuff to others. I also had the pleasure of playing with and against Mike Dixon and have to say that overall Mike was the best about.
3) Brent Horton – An exceptional scrummager, Brent saw the scrum as an art form. I would also have to mention Richard Binks who played for Morley and Yorkshire. He was essentially psychotic on the field and part of the fearsome Morley pack of the time. Trips to Morley were always met with some apprehension.
4) Wade Dooley – Wade was extremely tall and was potentially an International/Lions player………
5) Alan Wylie – A policeman by trade but on the field he seemed to have little regard for the laws! I enjoyed our Boxing Day derby matches against a certain WB Beaumont also.
6) Mick Parker – Mick was totally bonkers with a never say die attitude.
7) Neil Leeming – Neil had ‘special qualities’ which were known to all who played with him. We enjoyed lessons taught to us by Tony Neary (England and Lions) when we played Broughton Park, a regular fixture then
8) Graham Cox – I’m playing Coxy out of position but he was too good to leave out, a very mobile, skillful all round forward. Sam Hodgson at Vale was always a tough competitor and a strong back row forward.
9) Steve Berry – Electrifying pace he had all the skills. Didn’t like being kicked tho!
10) Dave Worth – Dave was a bit of a ladies’ man, so a good man to have on tour!!! Racehorse pedigree, he had all necessary to play No 10 /centre and was also a good goal kicker. Early in my time at Hoppers we faced Les Cusworth who was playing for Wakefield before he went to Moseley and Leicester. He was an excellent footballer and drop goal sadist.
11) Alan Sayle –A natural winger who could also pass the ball properly! Tony Richards at Fylde was an excellent player who played for England. One of many excellent Fylde backs I came across during my time at Hoppers.
12) Bernie Hudson – Bernie was our enforcer in midfield. A regular fixture was against Roundhay who included England international Richard Cardus in their ranks. An excellent player he later went onto play for Cardiff as well.
13) Martin Hughes – Martin was a good player and a really nice guy and also Welsh which makes his selection a formality. John Heritage was a super player but he went to play rugby league for Warrington before I could play with him in his prime. I’m told Sam Nye would have become a ‘superstar’ but he retired through injury aged 18 prior to my days with PGRFC. Tony Bond was at Broughton Park and then Sale during the late 70’s and 80’s and went onto play for England. He was a top player in a formidable Park XV of the time.
14) Keith Brierley – Keith was one of the first people I met when I came to the club. Believe it or not, he was quick when he was young! A very deceptive runner (particularly to his own team mates) he was also a strong tackler. Orrell were always a top team on the Northern circuit and I thought John Carleton was one of the best. He was very quick and very hard to put down (so I’m told).
15) Ideally I would have liked to have said JPR Williams but as he doesn’t qualify then I’ll say Jimmy Martin! Alan Old was at Sheffield during the 70’s and he could play anywhere in the backs. It’s a close one between Martin and Old but Alan Old just squeaks in!!