Since the article highlighting First XV appearances was published for Graham Cox’s Match on Boxing Day, one or two of our ‘veterans’ have pulled me up on the statistics.
As I ventured to point out, unfortunately it would appear playing records weren’t kept before past president Les Anson started taking note in the mid 1970’s, hence the only statistics known to be available are from then to the present day.
However, it’s worth mentioning in an effort to coax more information out of the back of cupboards and drawers, there are at least a couple of notable achievements worth a mention.
It was widely believed that Roy Dransfield’s 500 1st XV appearances held the record, but as the club had been in existence over one hundred years prior to Roy’s career, it would be fair to assume others would at least have played in similar numbers of games.
Thankfully for an archivist and historian, many players keep mementoes and details of their own personal playing record. This being the case in a couple that have come to light since Christmas.
Firstly, I was accosted in the car park, and I use that term in the very gentlest manner, by a certain Mr Brierley who proudly announced he had played in 509 first fifteen games. Considering his last was more years ago than any of our current first team started playing, and he’s still donning the jersey and boots for the 6th’s, just how many games must he have played in total for Preston Grasshoppers? Truly mind-boggling!
Another Hoppers veteran presented me with an old newspaper cutting announcing a milestone in his career. The headline read “Preston’s ‘Mr Rugby’ chalks-up 300 not out”. Stan Threlfall’s 300th appearance for the club at Northern RFC was the centrepiece of the article. Stan added another ninety-three to that total before retiring from first team fixtures but kept himself and his boots exercised with the Strollers until their cumulative playing days ceased not too long ago.
Unless ex players like Keith and Stan are forthcoming with their playing achievements for the club, these records get lost forever in the mists of time. There must be many more similar stories and records out there amongst our elder statesmen, so please don’t be too modest to let us know. We now have a superb website together with the match-day programme onto which these achievements can be published.
No prizes for guessing who is who in the photo, but there might be a Sherbet Lemon from Ken if anyone can name the year!
We already have a number of valuable items from the 19th century on display in the museum at Twickenham, what else could be out there waiting to be discovered?