The Rugby Paper have been giving out awards for the last 9 years, but in 2019 they hosted their first lunch at which a number of awards were made to professional and amateur rugby players and coaches for their efforts during the season 2018-19. There were a sprinkling of stars from across the years with Jeff Probyn, Peter Winterbottom, Alex Sanderson, Simon Halliday and Jeremy Guscott all in attendance. Also present was the recently retired ex-Wasps, England and British Lions back-row James Haskell who was presented with a Special Achievement prize in recognition of his outstanding career.
The only other 'long-service' prize made at the lunch went to our club supremo Paddy who received an Unsung Hero award - an accolade 40+ years in the making. A photo album with a selection of images may be found on the website called 'TRP Awards May 2019'.
Paddy was nominated for his award by former 1XV player, Mini coach and long-serving club member Mark Taylor. TRP invited nominations to be made for 'Unsung Heroes' and Mark set out Paddy's credentials as follows:-
"It is quite hard to know where to start with this, as my nomination, Paddy Ralston, has been the life-blood of KCS Old Boys RFC for some 40 years as player, coach, manager, referee, County representative and general factotum. Just passing into his 60s he has, with distinction stayed loyal to the Club since leaving school at 18. Many would testify that he might have had a long career with a 'bigger club' such as Rosslyn Park or Richmond, but whilst he represented Surrey and Combined London Old Boys with distinction, he played all his adult rugby at the Club and as the long serving scrum-half was a key part of the team’s success in the early 1980s when it won the Surrey Cup (first Old Boys side to do this) and appeared in the John Player Cup for 2 seasons.
After captaining the side and having played for over 10 years at the top of the Club, he moved down to play for the Veterans where his skill and vigour continued to bolster the team’s efforts. Sadly he was very badly injured in a game breaking 2 vertebra in his neck, though fortunately our opposition that day included an orthopaedic surgeon who carefully supported the neck until an ambulance eventually took him to hospital, and when he was operated on they managed to save him from any damage to the spinal cord by fusing the bones together. A miraculous escape from paralysis but leaving him with restricted movement.
Rather than fade out of the Club scene however he responded vigorously by bringing his enthusiasm, knowledge and rugby brain to support the Club in a variety of ways. In 1993 he formed our thriving Mini section and helped to grow that through the involvement of local schools, bringing in girls' rugby and helping to create a major force in Junior rugby in the area. He also became the Club Manager and got involved in every aspect of Club life from mowing and marking the pitches, cooking the teas, cleaning the kit, serving teas and coffees for the Minis' parents, refereeing, coaching and above all looking after the teams with administration, organisation and general support. Notwithstanding his personal job, family life and friends, he still spends more than half his time in activities for the Club, be it organising fixtures, sitting on County committees, securing Lottery grants for floodlights, facilitating social events, Club awards, car park repairs, barbecuing burgers for Minis' tournaments and writing reports, he is involved daily in every aspect of the Club and has been for nearly 30 years since stopping playing.
I could go on, but frankly if there is another person in club rugby that has done so much, for so many with so few resources then I would like to meet him or her. Paddy is ubiquitous, reliable, positive and always humorous and friendly to players, children, supporters, parents, officials and suppliers – a true Unsung Hero."
Congratulations to Paddy from all at King's Rugby - we'll have to get you something to fill the decanter now!