Chiswick RFC former wrecking ball takes a trip down memory lane. Taking a slightly different format from our previous weekly interviews with former players, Ben ‘Wee Man’ Cattliff caught up with Simon Hallett.
Question 1: Hello Simon, old friend. I remember you arriving at Chiswick part way through the 2009/10 season under a cloud of stardom having played on a higher stage previously. This arrival was alongside two other recently departed Richmond RFC players at the time. They didn’t make it to the 2nd season, however you have thrown yourself into the club since then. What has kept you at this club, despite having to take some years to solidify yourself as the 1st XV Fly-Half? I recall you were initially a utility back in that first season, playing on the wing and unable to break up the Gibson-Cheston centre partnership, then it took further time to get that Fly-Half shirt from Tom Duffy and Keith Luckman.
I knew a few of the boys like Keith, Chesty & Jonesy from a season at Richmond being coached by Rocky & made the acquaintance of a rather fun loving, larger than life Welsh chap, affectionately known as Tubbsy to his chums (Stefan Davies) & went to watch Chiswick v London Nigerians at the marvellous Linford Christie Stadium, the rugby was forgettable, but Mr Tubbs turned on the charm offensive afterwards & we proceeded to spend 4 hours drinking Nigerian Guinness with the oppo in their clubhouse – the rest as they say is history! All said & done, the people are the reason I am still part of this wonderful Rugby club, I was looked after & made to feel at home from day one & still enjoy any time I get to spend there.
Question 2: I know you’re a doppelganger for our current Prime Minister, but let’s not get political about this question. Be honest – who’s the best player you have played with at Chiswick?
Without doubt, Samuel Biss, anyone who has feet for hands & 100+ caps for CRFC 1st team deserves some credit! – also Tom Duffy springs to mind – nobody quite knows his best position, I doubt even he did, but it certainly wasn’t 10!!!! Joking aside, I was lucky to play with some class players throughout the years, but there are certain players whose name you want to see on the team sheet when it’s announced – for me it was Jon Gibson (Gibbo) terrible ref management, but everything you want in a leader & a 12, especially when you’re playing 10 or 13. Punches way above his slender weight & never had a bad game, his work rate & tenacity we’re 2nd to none.
Question 3: So that was a positive shout-out. Let’s flip that. Your nose is somewhat “distinguishable,” but who has the biggest nose at Chiswick?
No questions asked Luca Vannini has a mightily impressive Roman beak & after many a nose off, I can confirm it is by far the grandest at the club.
Question 4: Your tenure in the 1st XV was an impressive one, but you’ve also been at the forefront of driving growth within the club. From being part of setting up Minis all those years ago which has now truly blossomed, to the new Silverbacks Vets team which has had impressive form since the inception 2 seasons ago. Out of all of that, what are you most proud about from your days at our fine club?
I was lucky to have had some great memories on the pitch with the cup final win against Staines probably the best game I’ve played in & the playoff win at Diss another special day for the club, what a journey home (Thank You Rhemayo Brooks)
We have had a couple of brilliant seasons with the Vets / Silverbacks, already providing the boys with some great memories & hopefully many more to come. It has also been great to see some old & some new faces in the club.
But for me, the Minis is a huge passion & something I’m proud of being involved with from its inception, when it was jumpers for goalposts & we had 10 kids of all ages & abilities playing ball dog for 2 hours, lead by myself, the Pickering’s, you, the aforementioned Mr Biss, all feeling the effects of a Sat Eve at the Barlley Mow. It’s gone from strength to strength & hopefully will one day produce players for the Snr Club. So it’s something I’m proud to be a part of & will always remember fondly in years to come.
Question 5: Your physical presence for a Fly Half was one of your most praised attributes, but that has been a detriment to your body. Any recommendations to the CRFC Youth on how to look after yourself, other than being 30-45 minutes late for every training session, which was your form the final couple of seasons?
Haha, touché my good man, my tardy timekeeping was no mistake, as you so kindly pointed out, but was mainly due to the fact that my legs had gone about 3 seasons before (some might say even earlier) I think the day it really me hit home was when you beat me in a sprint drill & that was the nail in the coffin, at which point I knew I had to make up for my deceptively slow pace in other areas!! The injuries are unavoidable, so I would recommend enjoying every game while you can, as it’s all over far too soon.
Question 6: We lived together for a couple of years. Are 2 x pizzas from Sainsbury’s still the norm for an evening meal, or was that just the playing days? If so, will we be seeing that diet return with you pulling on a shirt for the Silverbacks in the future? Also, what did I do so wrong for you to leave?
The glory years at Cattliff Towers was a wonderful time in my life & something I’m eternally grateful for, but when I caught you red handed stealing one of my tour socks from the tumble dryer claiming it was yours & had got caught up in my washing, I knew you’d changed then & it was time to go. Also the now Mrs H is a distinctly superior cook than you’re good self & doesn’t pause the TV every time somebody in the room speaks!! As for playing, as much as I would love to & even though my diet has improved drastically, I’ve played my last game of rugby.
Question 7: Finally, we know you love this club. What do you want to see from CRFC in the future?
It’s an amazing club, full of great people & has grown a lot in my short time, the obvious stuff has been said already, but one thing that bonds people at rugby clubs & is long overdue is tour, so when rugby resumes I would relish the opportunity to be on a good old fashioned tour & experience the week long hangover & post tour memories!!