On Saturday we welcome Daniel Thwaites Brewery to Lightfoot Green as our main match sponsor for the 1st XV game with Chester.
Ahead of the game we caught up with regional sales director and former Hoppers 1st XV captain Steve Kerry to have a chat. Steve also had a long spell as a professional in Rugby League but more of that later!
Why are Thwaites keen to sponsor a 1st XV game?
We have a lot of business in the Preston and surrounding area, not just with tenanted pubs like the Lamb and Packet, Sitting Goose and Smiths Arms but pubs and clubs that we supply with a Package deal such as Fulwood and Broughton C.C. and Ingol and Parkfield Labour Clubs. Hoppers sponsorship packages are a terrific way to support the club and entertain our customers at the same time.
What products do Thwaites offer which might interest Hoppers members?
Our Flagship brand is obviously Wainwright which has won many awards. We are very passionate about cask ales in general, using our “Crafty Dan” brewery to brew many innovative beers. We also brew our own lager, Kaltenberg, and have experimented with craft beers like 13 Guns and Crafty Dan. Of course there is our own Smooth beer… “The Northern Smoothie”.
Which other sports teams do Thwaites sponsor?
Our main brand sponsorship is with Wainwright at Lancashire Cricket Club, which has helped us strengthen our portfolio across the country. We do have other package deals at Blackpool, Bury and Rochdale Football Clubs as well as many other rugby, cricket and football clubs. We see sports clubs as a great way of helping the club and formulate that into the individual deal.
Are there any developments at Thwaites upcoming?
We have just bought a plot of land on the A59 at Mellor Brook to build our new brewery! This will enable us to be more efficient and innovative and continue our family owned business for another 207 years!
What is your proudest moment as a Hopper?
There are many great moments but captaining the cup run in the old Pilkington Cup, culminating in playing Northampton in the 6th round at Lightfoot Green would take some beating. 3000 spectators, temporary stands, playing against a team full of internationals, Thwaites sponsoring the game….and we were winning at half time!!
Can England win the RWC next year?
Yes definitely. I feel the current squad has great potential. The Autumn Internationals and 6 Nations are critical. We need to build momentum and get used to winning. I like Lancaster as a coach, he is streetwise, pragmatic, earthy and grounded. We should play to our strengths as we did when we last won it but most of all believe it will happen.
What is your prediction for Saturday?
England to beat New Zealand by 10 points, Hoppers to win by 7 and Wales to lose hideously to Australia (Pike Dyer are you reading!!)
Please name a player you have played with for each category below:
Most skilful – Would have to be Ellery Hanley, could play in any position, fast, strong, tremendous guile and craft and ahead of his time with professionalism.
Funniest – Steve Gibson at Salford. Australian fullback from the outback. “Crocodile Dundee”, absolute fruitcake but a great player. Also Mick McCue at Blackburn (as Pike Dyer about the walnut whip!)
Fastest – I played in Jonathan Davies’ debut for Widnes, Martin Offiah scored a hatrick, two tries he raced away from us by 20 yards. Just behind him would be ex Hopper, Wigan and Halifax (I deliberately missed out Fylde!) winger Mark Preston who was rapid and a top guy as well. Third would be Lloyd Bell!
Strongest – Neil Leeming. Leemers was the strongest player I played with or against in either code. I still hate meeting him because my hand hurts for weeks after shaking hands with him.
Hardest – The Ashton brothers could look after themselves and me at times (a game at Kendal comes to mind) but I’m going to go with one from either code. Barry McDermott from League and Mick Parker from Union. Baz only had one eye but was fearless and fearsome (now commentates for Sky TV!). Parks was just too brave for his own good. We played Waterloo in the cup when they were a good team, Jim Siddall was there captain and second row who had just played for England, supposedly a hard man. Parks and Siddall had previous over a few years and they were at it from the start. Parks won the battle and the war when he was on top of him knocking 10 bells out of him with Siddall shouting “get him off me ref, get him off me”. The tougher the game, the more Parks loved it. You knew that because his tongue started to come out and he would just say “Jesus!”.
Best Captain – Roy Dransfield. Dranny is a legend at Hoppers. I learnt a tremendous amount from him about understanding players and getting the best out of them, rugby in general and respect. A great man.
Best Factotum – The one and only John Crayston. There are no words adequate enough!
We hope that Steve, his colleagues from Thwaites and their guests have great day on Saturday.