On Saturday 14th September we welcome Thwaites’ Brewery to Lightfoot Green as the main match sponsor for the 1st XV game with Sedgley Park Tigers which kicks off at 2.30pm.
Ahead of their visit we caught up with Regional Sales Manager and former 1st XV legend Steve Kerry to have a chat about his career at Lightfoot Green.
Tell us how you came to play for Hoppers and tell us about your first
I have always loved sport, and went to Fulwood High School which in
those days was a rugby school largely through an ex-player who played
for Vale and Lancashire called Dennis Chapman. A mate of mine called
Steve Edwards was playing in the mini juniors and asked me to play. I
was 17, played a year, then moved up to the colts, which was the most
enjoyable rugby of my career mainly through the care, passion and
skill of our coaches Malcolm Alden (Mr President) and Mick Hill.
My first game for the first team was against Heaton Moore and I think Ian Ashton made his debut the same day. I was still in the colts at the time and Brent Horton was captain, I played 10 that day. I was nervous and got to the club early and started to get changed. You had to provide (Christ I’m old !) your own shorts and socks then! Half an hour later Roy Dransfield came through the door, walked over in his typical farmers walk and told me quite bluntly that I was in his place …obviously I moved. I then got the same treatment from Neil Leaming when he strolled in 3 minutes later. The warm up was slightly different in those days…. You went out and warmed up if you wanted to, or kicked a few balls around, or you could have a couple of schooners of sherry, a fag and some glucose tablets. I then saw Brent and Dave Hornby (both certified props with diagnosed mental problems) whacking their shoulders against wooden benches. I went to the toilet just in case I was forced to join in. Just before we went out Brent introduced me to the team, Alan Wyllie nodded at me, Micky Parker sort of grunted and shook his head several times, Dave Percy started talking to me and didn’t stop till after the game (but didn’t pass), Leamers whacked me on my arm, which is still bruised, and Mick Billington produced some vomit in his mouth and showed it to me!! So I was, as you can imagine, all ready to go! Well it worked, I scored a try within two minutes and we won easily!
What was you favourite game in a Hoppers shirt?
Two games really, when the Lancashire cup really meant something we played, after beating Waterloo in the quarter final, Orrell in the semi-final. At the time both teams played in the first division of the merit table, with Leicester Gloucester etc.. They had at least 4 international players and most of the others were county or North of England, Peter Williams, John Carleton, Sammy Southern, Peter Buckton and Simon Langford to name a few. We beat them with a great try from Eric Dean and we scraped home with a penalty in the second half ,what a fantastic team effort!
The other one was when we played Northampton in the national cup (Pilkington cup as it was then)….. What a day for the club, all those internationals, Paul Grayson making his return, 3000 people packed in to temporary stands, hot toddies and Thwaites beers all over the place, the biggest ever roar from Bert Dransfields “we’r captains tunnel” and we were winning at half time!
Who were the best players you played with at the club?
I have been lucky enough to play with some fantastic men, here are
just a few.
Ian Wright, skill, great pass, fantastic at remembering all
the songs for the coach.
Mark Preston, fantastic, pace.
Mick Parker, ridiculously brave.
Neil Leeming, strongest player I played with in either code.
Wade Dooley, long and big (7 Grasshoppers!!).
Roy Dransfield, understanding people.
Phill Crayston, Ginger hair.
Glynn Dewhurst, Ian and Neil Ashton, for looking after me….and of course Keith Brierley for being everyone’s Dad!
Rugby league or rugby union? (controversial one I know!)
I have been asked this so many times…… Love them both for
different reasons. Rugby is the same everywhere, it brings together
people from all backgrounds and makes them friends for life.
How did you end up at Thwaites and why are you keen to sponsor a
Hoppers 1st XV game?
To cut a long story short , Paul Winter who I became friends with at
hoppers offered me the job at the end of my League career. We have
sponsored hoppers for around 18 years now, I think because we are a
local regional brewery the synergies between the club and Thwaites are
great. We have some terrific, loyal customer’s in the Preston area who
really enjoy the professional match day experience that the club
offer….and every now and again I like to indulge myself !!
We hope that Steve, his colleagues from Thwaites’ and their clients have a tremendous day at Lightfoot Green on Saturday and we thank them for their sponsorship.