Fitting farewell to Garstang RUFC stalwart
Garstang Rugby Club had a day of celebration and success on Saturday as they celebrated the retirement of club president Bobby Johnston and saw the Blues progress to the final of the LBS Plate.
Despite the abysmal weather and the dubious quality of the pitches the show had to go on and the opening event of the day was a round-robin series of games between two Garstang teams and Fleetwood Rugby Club.
The series of games was followed by a huge party in the clubhouse to celebrate Johnston’s distinguished rugby career.
Garstang’s two teams consisted of club veterans, senior coaches, junior coaches, Colts players, sponsors, junior parents, two father and son combinations and a host of returning former players, who all turned out to play with Johnston for one last time on the Hudson Park ground he was instrumental in developing during his 13-year stint as president.
The club welcomed local rivals Fleetwood Rugby Club, Johnston’s previous club of 25 years, to complete a memorable day of “old school” rugby in honour of Johnston, who is retiring and moving to the Bahamas in September.
The results were immaterial; what mattered was a full to bursting clubhouse long after the games had finished, drinking, laughing, exchanging old stories and singing long into the evening.
The ‘testimonial’ game was a massive event on the day with a fantastic turnout but the main event of the day followed this, with the Blues playing in the LBS Plate semi-final against Widnes’ thirds.
The Blues had a strong squad assembled with the smell of silverware ensuring that availability was good.
The game didn’t start particularly well for Garstang as the visitors went 7-0 up with the opening try but Charlie Clark soon closed the deficit with a well struck penalty.
Garstang then took control and they were rewarded with further scores from Pat Haley and Ian Makinson, both converted by Charlie Clark, to give them a 17-7 cushion at the interval.
After the break Widnes struck back to reduce the deficit to 17-14 but Garstang struck back with a try through Joel Dugdale.
It was a welcome return for the youngster on his first appearance since he suffered a severe facial injury while on first team duty back in November.
The win was secured when Edgar Nicholls, another player who has had a breakthrough season, made one of his trademark runs and went over to score the final try.
Clark put the icing on the cake with a tremendous touchline conversion to make it 31-14.
That was the final score of the game which saw the Blues progress to the final of the LBS Plate where they will meet Fylde’s fifths on Saturday, May 6 at Aspull RFC.
A perfect weekend for the senior teams was completed as the ladies beat Vale of Lune by 34-0 at Preston Grasshoppers.
On Saturday the firsts and seconds are at home against Thornton Cleveleys and Colne & Nelson respectively. Both games kick-off at 3pm.