Alan joined the club way back in the 70’s and was a fine utility player. He could play anywhere from 9 to 15 and in the pack when needed. He could kick goals from anywhere on the pitch and his knowledge of and acumen for the game was second to none. Surprisingly quick around the field, his rugby brain always put him where he was needed. He always played with a smile on his face and his sense of humour and rock like demeanour gave immense comfort and confidence to those around him.
He was a true amateur player from a bygone age. He would play where he was picked and for any team that wanted him. As he matured, he became a stalwart player in the lower sides. In my last playing year, I captained our 6th team!! We turned up at Enfield with 11 players and Alan and I devised a way of not losing too heavily. Instead, Alan kicked everything 50 yards downfield, got 3 long range penalties and we won 9 – 6. I can still see that huge grin on his face when the final whistle went.
As retirement approached, he became a club referee. He once refereed a 4th team game when a certain Jeff Probyn had been playing for us. He determined that Jeff was binding illegally and proceeded to penalise him at multiple scrums. The matter was later graciously settled over beers and Alan was only too happy to remind people how he got the better of an erstwhile World Cup finalist.
He just loved rugby and everything about it. He loved Wanstead and he was happy and content to be part of that family. It was truly his comfort zone.
To this day however, when you ask a fellow Heron to recall something about Alan, it will not be about rugby. It was his sartorial elegance. He never wore socks and always turned up in sandals regardless of the weather or of the occasion. He never felt it necessary to explain.
Our thoughts and sincere condolences are now with his wife Sandy and his children Jonathan and Sarah-Jane, his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and wider family.
Rest in peace Alan.