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Home > News > Eccles RFC quartet flag up game for life
Your News Eccles RFC quartet flag up game for life

ONCE upon a time rugby players were starting to plan their transition into golf and other less physical sports when they were moving towards the 40 mark, but as Eccles Thirds conclusively proved recently, times have changed dramatically.

In a game against Broughton Park Fourths, the clubs Third XV contained two players in their 60s and was refereed by a 71-year-old.

Add a 47-year-old captain to the mix and a quartet boasting a massive 241 years between them provides a wealth of experience that few other games can match.

Sixty-year-old Henryk Getz (back left) started with Eccles Colts in 1967 and has never missed a season in 43 years.

I put my longevity down to keeping in shape and not stopping playing. he says: I think if you take a lay-off its very difficult in later years to recapture match fitness theres no substitute for playing week-in and week-out.

Ive always done plenty of running, especially in the summer, with marathons, 10Ks and hill walking to stay in shape. But I also enjoy the friendship and camaraderie of new generations of players coming into team. Youre still part of group whether you are 17 or 60 and sharing in the spirit of the team.

I dont have any post-match fitness issues except maybe sometimes recovering from the conviviality!

His Eccles Thirds team-mate Jeff Pennington (back right) is 63 and also has three marathons under his belt to testify to a responsible attitude to personal fitness.

Im not a fitness fanatic, but Ive always been reasonably fit, he says: My back gives me a bit of stick these days, but generally Ive no after-effects following a game. The main thing is that since starting at 16, Ive always loved it and got a buzz not only out of playing, but also out of looking forward to playing.

I agree that keeping playing is the key, which all stems from the sheer enjoyment of the sport where playing in an open-age team provides an added dimension of fun and friendship. Theres definitely an extra buzz in sharing with younger people.

With so much experience on duty, the game needed an official who knew the tricks of the trade. Step up Brian Ball, who is still blowing the whistle at 71 and keeping up with the youngsters!

I didnt start until I was 21 when a friend invited me to West Park St Helens, says the former North West Water employee: I played scrum-half in those days before moving into refereeing with the Liverpool Society 20 years later.

Id certainly recommend any player to go into refereeing. At one stage I was handling 80 games a season Saturday and Sunday games and a couple in mid-week if I could find anyone whod have me.

Im still enjoying it as much as ever and Ive no plans to retire. Im back with the Third teams, which means Im back where I started. Now more of the players in this sector are a bit older and because of that, officials get more respect.

And how did he rate the senior Eccles duo in their game against Broughton Park. He said: They did really well. They get around the field, especially Henryk, who looks more like a 40-year-old.

Billy Borrett, the Eccles third team captain and a comparative youngster at 47, completes a tableau that insists that rugby union really is a game for life.

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