In our latest edition of Ultimate XV, we go back in time to collect the views of one of Hoppers longest serving members Les Anson.
A native of Hull, work brought Les to the Preston area in February 1953. His playing career was confined to 11 years after coming to the game late having attended a soccer only school. He started his rugby career in 1946 and played his first rugby at the old Hull & East Riding Club until 1952. He also played for the Barclays Bank RFC and this gave him the chance to rub shoulders with some fine players.
After one season at Grimsby he joined Hoppers on his arrival in the North West. Within in two weeks he had agreed to take on the role of Fixture Secretary, a post he was to hold for well over 30 years!!! When he finished playing, he joined the Manchester & District Referees’ Society of which he is an Honourable Member. He has also served Hoppers with distinction as both Secretary and President.
Les remarks on his playing days “these were the days when the game was played for fun and not finance. It was a time when you could give donkeys the chance to be in the same paddock as thoroughbreds! Here goes my XV, a real mixed bag of both!”
The comments attached to the selections are as always those of the selector.
15 (number 1 in those days!) Ian King
An elegant fullback and fine goal kicker who played many seasons for Harrogate and Yorkshire .He was capped for England too few times.
14 Peter H Thompson, Headingley, Yorkshire & England
A prolific try scorer. He had one season playing for Hoppers in the Lea days late in his career.
One of the Barclay’s greats who played his club rugby for Gloucester.
12 Cliff Young
Played all his rugby at Hoppers after leaving Manchester University. A toss-up between Cliff and Harry Page (another Hoppers Legend and one of many Welshmen to play for the club).
11 Frank Sykes
The Huddersfield Flyer who had a distinguished career culminating in a Lions tour to South Africa in 1955.
10 Peter J.Hall
An Australian (yes even in those days) had the pleasure of playing with him when he joined Hull & ER from Cambridge University where he won a blue for rugby and cricket. I had the pleasure of playing both sports with him. He had the same impact as a certain Michael Lough!
9 Norman Hodgson A superb Grasshopper who played mainly for the 2s and 3s. A wonderful Clubman (the Dave Chadwick of his day) he cycled from Longton for matches and training. A good man to have in your team.
8 J.J. Cain
Waterloo and England. Another Barclay’s player who played in the second row for England. It was an education to play in the same pack.
7 Brian Braithwaite-Exley, Headingley and England
Played for the Yorkshire club in my first senior match.
6 Roger Parker
Another legendary Hopper whose son Michael carried on the tradition.
5 Humphrey Luya
Another England international who played for Headingley in my senior baptism. It was a hard day!
4 Ronald. J. Berry
Hoppers captain when I joined in 1953. There was no doubt who was the boss. There would have been no place for a coach!
1 and 3 Ken Beaver and Jim Walker
Bracketed together as the two best props I played with. A hookers dream as the two best minders in the business. We played most of our rugby as the second team front row but they were both better than that. My good fortune.
2 Norman Mackie, Otley
A fine hooker from the anything goes days. Played many times for his County. Noel Butler who I first encountered when he played for Nottingham and then joined Hoppers was another formidable exponent of the dark art!