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I'd love to be part of Cirencester's 75th anniversary celebrations, says ex-player Roger West, 84

All Areas > Sport > Rugby Union

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 17th January 2024, 10:00

Ex-Cirencester rugby player Roger West, back row, right, also played a lot of basketball Ex-Cirencester rugby player Roger West, back row, right, also played a lot of basketball

Roger West is looking on with interest as Cirencester Rugby Club celebrate their 75th anniversary.

The now 84-year-old, who lives in Kempsford, played for the club more than 50 years ago and has very happy memories of his time there.

So much so that he got in touch with The Local Answer “to share some reminiscences” after seeing our story just before Christmas about the club’s plans for the coming year.

“They are a good club,” he said.

West came into the game of rugby later than most. He didn’t play his first match until he was in his late 20s and he was 30 before he played his first game for Cirencester.

West was a basketball player back in the day – he played at a decent level for London – and when he first took up rugby he played for Bath Civil Service.

“My brother played there,” he explained. “I joined them because I wanted to bond with him.”

So how did he end up playing at Cirencester?

“We were playing against Cirencester at the Whiteway,” he explained.

“I was living in Baunton, which is just a mile up the road from Cirencester.

“I had a decent game and I asked if I could come and play for them.”

Initially he played in the 2nd XV but it wasn’t long before he was pushed up into the 1sts.

“I used to play second row, I was 6ft 2ins,” he said. “I wasn’t really big enough, I should have played no 8, but because of all the basketball I was a good jumper.”

He was also a good organiser and soon took on the role of team secretary.

“I wasn’t part of the selection committee but I was there when the teams were selected,” he said.

“In those days the club had five men's teams and my job was to let everyone know which team they were playing for. 

“I used to send cards in the post to 75 to 80 players every week.”

And once he’d done that his job wasn’t finished.

“Every Saturday morning I’d phone the captains to see if there were any cry-offs,” he continued.

“If there were, I’d move players around to fill in all the gaps.

“When I ran onto the pitch on a Saturday afternoon it was a weight off my mind because I knew there weren’t going to be any more cry-offs.”

His role as team secretary lasted for two years and he is proud of the fact that during that time the club never fielded an understrength side.

West was a first-team regular for six or seven years and played at the same time as Steve Mills, a hooker who went on to play for Gloucester and five times for England.

“He used to throw the ball to me and my job was to catch it and give it to the scrum-half,” he explained.

“The fly-half would then kick for touch and in those days you got the throw-in again.

“It probably wasn’t much fun to watch but we won a lot of games that way.”

West also has very fond memories of a club tour to the USA.

“It was organised by Fred Gilks,” he recalled.

“We played in New York, Chicago, all over the place. There were 30 or 40 players on the tour.”

Some of those players may be involved in the club’s 75th anniversary celebrations and West added: “I’d love to be involved the celebrations.

"The rugby club is special to me, I played most of my rugby there and I still follow their results.”

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