I first met Willie in 1961 when I joined Ealing towards the end of that season and I had just left school. I played in the “Extra A”, there were no Colts in those days, and he was the Captain of the team. As you might expect Willie took the time to make sure that I was made welcome and properly looked after by all the other team members. He also made sure that I was fully versed in the etiquette of the game, for example, I was in the habit of shouting out at my team mates, opposition players and even the referee, a bit like today’s players, in fact. However Willie took me to one side during an early game to tell me that rugby was not like “Soccer” and that only he, as Captain and the Pack Leader were allowed to speak, and that if I were to continue “he would send me from the field”. It was a lesson well learned and which served me well not only in rugby but life itself.
Another life changing intervention happened after a few games, Willie spoke to me concerning my habit of dashing off after the game on my bike, when he suggested that rugby was about more than what happened on the field of play and that “I should not leave until the kitty had gone”. It was to shape the next twelve years of my playing career at Ealing, and provide some wonderful times, although I am not sure that Angela, my wife would agree.
Willie was a terrific man to know, and of course a great “Ealing Man”. We all used to enjoy the various social events he organised at The Club, the dances, cabaret nights and so forth, as well as appreciating all the time and effort he put into the running of The Club at all levels. I was privileged to know him.