Malcolm Alden’s Ultimate XV

Date: 19 December 2014

Ahead of his testimonial on Boxing Day we have asked Malcolm to put together an ‘Ultimate XV’ of players he has played with and coached in his time at Preston Grasshoppers. The words below are written by Malcolm.

1) Brent Horton – Around 5’8″ (in real money) whichever way one viewed him. An unmovable limpet, once accused by the referee of a high tackle until Rose, his wife, politely asked him to reconsider. Actually she challenged his eyesight as to the feasibility that someone oh his diminutive stature could possibly reach high enough to make such a tackle.

2) Andy Procter (Snr.) – The fastest striker of a ball in my experience, a county stalwart. I played tight head to Andy and quite often, in the days when the ball had to be put in straight, he would beat the opposition hooker to their put in by blocking it for me to hook the ball into our scrum. A great friend sorely missed.

3) Frank Blackhurst – A carpenter and joiner in the family business, Frank was one of the strongest men I’ve come across. He had massive hands and a phenomenal grip. There used to be a metal grip testing machine on the main bar in the form of a foaming Whitbread tankard. One had to insert 6p to operate it and the scale ranged from weak to very strong. Frank managed strong the second time around.

4) Steve Borthwick – I first met Steve who was playing in a schools tournament at Hoppers, he was limping away from the CLub with an ankle injury. With no ulterior motive honestly, I suggested to his parents I could arrange physiotherapy for him at Hoppers to speed up his recovery. He accepted the offer and by the time he finished his treatment he somehow developed a desire to play in our Colts squad.

He was ultimately picked to play for England Colts on a tour of Australia and New Zealand. I suggested that he come ‘one on one’ training before he went and we spent several sessions with tackle bags, shields and balls etc. to develop more aggressive hits and alignment. A true professional who took everything on board.

5) Karl Temmen – Billy Johnston told me about this 6’10” Basketball player at Runshaw that I might be able to ‘do something with’. He was an instant success in the loose and soon managed the tight play. He had great hands and could ‘quarter-back’ throw the ball a considerable distance. We utilised this ability for his quick throw in to our wing on the opposite side of the field with great success.

6) Pat Sanderson – He could play any position in the back row and although I played him at No. 8 I have picked him at blind side with his brother Alex at No. 7. A fit classy player.

7) Alex Sanderson – A more aggressive player than Pat and also very fast. In the same mould as Micky Parker or Glyn Dewhurst.

8) Neil Leeming – A farming ‘lad’, strong as an ox. When on the charge with the ball I liked the way he used his shoulders and hips to act as a shield to dip and bounce off a tackle, a very hard man to stop.

9) Steve Kerry – My Colts captain in 1985-6. Mick Hill and I were not sure whether he was a scrum-half or outside-half but in the end Mick’s judgement prevailed. He had a great eye for an opening and he was explosive off the mark. His ‘place’ and ‘out of hand’ kicking was immaculate. I remember playing a Colts Cup Semi-Final against Widnes in neutral Warrington. Steve attempted a drop kick , in extra time, from wide out on our left on the 22 metre line. The ball hit the farthest upright, bounced on to the cross bar and over to win the match.

10) Paul Grayson – Jim Moore, who was Colts captain, was attending Preston College and befriended a soccer player whose claim to fame was that he played for Accrington Stanley reserves. Anyway to cut a long story short he turned up at the Hoppers and after being tried in virtually all back positions he settled at No. 10. Paul progressed on to win a World Cup with England as well as tour South Africa with the British and Irish Lions.

11) Steve Bracegirdle – Played in the same team as Mark Preston and formed a great partnership in the Colts 7-a-side team. After leaving the Colts he went to play for Waterloo when they were in their pomp.

12) Jim Moore – Nothing fancy about Jim, straight and true in attack and outstanding in defence. He was one of 12 ex-Colts in the 1st XV along with Eric Dean, Mick Walker, the Crayston brothers etc.

13) Will Greenwood – A great character. A lanky bean pole whose rangy stride masked his deceptive pace. The **** knocked Wales out of the 2003 World Cup in the semi if my memory serves me correctly and England went on to win.

14) Mark Preston – Extremely fast and master of the swerve. I went to watch Lancashire Colts play Yorkshire and Mark received the ball just outside the No. 13 position. His opposite number was out on the wing as Mark ran at him. Just before he reached him he literally offered him the ball! By the time the bewildered player re-focused Mark had accelerated away for the line to score.

15) John Chesworth – Although not the fastest player, his positioning in defence more than made up for the former. He could also join the attack at centre, one of his other positions. He showed the same aggressive enthusiasm in his after match socialising (drinking) as he did in his approach on the field of play.

The game on Boxing Day kicks off at 1.30PM and features a Malcolm Alden XV vs a Bill Bailey XV. Entry to the game is £5 (including players) and all money raised will go to the Rosemere Cancer Foundation. There is a video message below from Malcolm.

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