One of the club’s longest serving players, the 32-year-old strong running centre has been an integral member of the 1st team squad since joining the club from Clifton midway through the 2014/15 campaign - Elthamians’ first in National Two South.
He was a standout performer during the club’s promotion-winning season in 2016-17, scoring 14 tries, while his superb defensive display in the OEs midfield alongside Max Wilkins in the Play-off final at Sale was a decisive factor in the most important victory in the club’s history.
Hampered by injury for much of the club’s first season in National One, Golledge has roared back to form and fitness this term, having appeared in all bar three league games so far during the campaign, scoring nine tries.
In total, he has crossed the whitewash 40 times in his 99 appearances in an OEs shirt and is currently the club’s third highest all-time league try scorer behind Renford Bennett and Dom Lespierre.
“To be honest, I never thought I’d reach 100 appearances when I first joined OEs,” Golledge admitted. “I've managed to pick up my fair share of injuries throughout my playing career and missed a fair bit of rugby so I never really set expectations of achieving appearance or reaching milestones.”
The former Loughborough centre can’t remember his club debut (coming on as a second half substitute away at Southend), but picks the National Two promotion-winning campaign as a personal highlight of his time at Elthamians. “During the second half of that season when we got promoted out of Nat 2, the vibe around the club and the squad was amazing and we were playing some incredible rugby,” he recalled. “In particular as a back-line, there was a really strong bond in the group and everyone was full confidence. It made mine, D.Les [Dom Lespierre] and ABs’ [Alex Brown] job to score tries easy.”
OEs Director of Rugby Gavin Lach acknowledged the major contribution the 6ft 2in centre has made in helping the club rise up the National Leagues.
“Golly has easily been one of my most important signings,” he said. “At a time when we were just finding our feet in National Two South, his experience, leadership on and off the field and quality both in attack and defence were absolutely invaluable and rubbed off on the players around him.
“To thrive at National League level I think you need strong characters in the side and Golly has always stepped up to whatever challenge has been put in front of him. The fact that he’s played across virtually the entire backline and scored tries at every level he’s played at shows his versatility and all-round ability.”
The full interview with James Golledge will be in Saturday’s matchday programme.
Old Elthamians v Cambridge kicks off at 2.30pm at College Meadow
Updated 11:58 - 1 Apr 2019 by Jon Edwards