Monday, 26 January 2009

Paul Beard RIP

The observant among you will have noticed a certain amount of radio silence on my part of late. It’s not as if there’s been nothing happening in the world of rugby that perhaps I should have been blogging about - Matt Stevens' impending drugs ban for instance, or the latest injury setback for Lewis Moody or the Heineken Cup quarter final line up being decided all spring to mind.

All such things have, however, been well and truly put into perspective by the incredibly sad news I received last week that my old mate from St. Johns College, Paul Beard, had collapsed and died on 15th January.

I heard the news just over a week ago and, quite honestly, it has taken me this long to even begin to come to terms with it all. I hadn’t seen him nearly enough over the last few years but caught up with him at the Varsity Match in December where he was in fine form. Great sportsman, top bloke and good mate – I’m simply stunned by the news that he’s gone.

Beardy was an an extremely talented sportsman, winning a Blue at fullback for Cambridge in 1987 and, perhaps more impressively, becoming a stalwart for the Bandits during the early nineties. I first met him in 1984 at the freshers’ trial for the St.John’s College rugby team which, as captain, I was charged with selecting. Early on in the trial match Beardy appeared to stumble before diving full length to field a high ball, recover his footing and kick to touch. I was mightily impressed by this piece of spontaneous improvisation and he walked straight into the College 1st XV. It was only years later that he revealed that it was a pre-rehearsed move designed to catch the eye.

His talents also lay beyond the sports field. At my 21st birthday, for instance, Beardy was the only person there who was able to light the pipe given to me as a present, prompting accusations that pipe-smoking was one of his many Hertfordshire Schools representative honours (which included, it was rumoured, tiddlywinks).

In more recent years Paul has, it seems, gained many friends and admirers in his capacity as Chairman of the Berkhamsted Raiders Youth Football Club and as a mainstay of the Berkhamsted Cricket Club.

A memorial service is taking place on Friday afternoon and, if the circulating emails are to be believed, the wake could turn into the mother of all piss-ups. It is almost certainly, as many claim ,“what Beardy would have wanted” but, whilst that may the case and the prospect of some serious memorial beers with some old mates has its attractions, my thoughts are first and foremost with his wife and three children as well as his Mum and Dad and brother and sister – heaven only knows how they are all coping with their loss.

3 comments:

Nursedude said...

Hey Flanker, sorry about the loss of your mate. Everyday we have where we are vertical in this life is a blessing. It's kind of a reality check to pick up the phone and reach out to friends near and far to touch bases with them.

It's tough when you are in our age group and you start to lose friends.

Choirboy said...

Flanker,

My heartfelt condolences. It's just possible I may have played a college game against your mate at Cambridge but, frankly, that isn't the point. It seems fundamentally wrong when our contemporaries, or even worse, our juniors, are taken from us before their time. It's happened to me twice in the past three years. In both cases they passed away on the pitch - one during a game and the other on a coaching course.

There is nothing that can be said at such times which comes close to addressing the loss but I am sure you will give him the send off that he deserves. It is at times like these that the spirit of this fantastic game shines through in its respect for the departed and the practical way in which support is offered to the bereaved. I have never been prouder of my club that when witnessing the support provided to my friend's loved ones in the midst of their loss.

Take care,

Choirboy

Choirboy said...

Flanker,

My heartfelt condolences. It's just possible I may have played a college game against your mate at Cambridge but, frankly, that isn't the point. It seems fundamentally wrong when our contemporaries, or even worse, our juniors, are taken from us before their time. It's happened to me twice in the past three years. In both cases they passed away on the pitch - one during a game and the other on a coaching course.

There is nothing that can be said at such times which comes close to addressing the loss but I am sure you will give him the send off that he deserves. It is at times like these that the spirit of this fantastic game shines through in its respect for the departed and the practical way in which support is offered to the bereaved. I have never been prouder of my club that when witnessing the support provided to my friend's loved ones in the midst of their loss.

Take care,

Choirboy