|My Rugby Passion: Spike Milligan
Interview by Brendan Gallagher
Why rugby? I was sucked in by the
Catholic brothers at St Paul's College in Rangoon. I offered no resistance and
have been enchanted ever since. What always attracted me was the thrill - some
would say the sheer brown-trouser terror - of running out knowing nothing about
your opponents. Humiliation or glory, pain or ecstasy, lie ahead. But which will
Rugby career: After school I played on the wing for South East London Poly and
then, during the War, with D Battery of the 56th Heavy Regiment, which was full
of mad, hard-drinking Welshmen. I loved every moment. After hostilities ceased I
retired until last year when, aged 80, I turned out for my home club, Rye RFC,
to help raise some cash. The opposition let me score a try and The Daily
Telegraph took a photo for posterity. Oh, I once drunkenly crash-tackled All
Black captain Ian Kirkpatrick in a Dublin hotel bar. I was concussed for months
but he just carried on drinking his Guinness.
Favourite players: Mike Gibson, Willie John McBride, Ollie Campbell, Phil
Bennett, Gareth Edwards, David Campese and Sid Collins. In case you're
wondering, Sid was a legend in D Battery - not blessed in the upstairs
department but the hardest man I've known.
Most memorable game: Barbarians against New Zealand of course. I can't think of
anything - and at my age I mean anything - better than watching re-runs of that
game. It's ridiculous but when I watch rugby on the TV I'm still mentally out
there playing. I curse, quite obscenely, wonderful players when they do
something contrary to what I would have done. Pathetic.
Will you live to see a second Ireland grand slam? Yes . . . but make it quick,
lads, I'm fading.
One rugby wish: To have watched Willie John McBride captain Ireland to victory
over the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road. After drinking Dublin dry I would have
died and gone to heaven, or wherever He (God, not Willie-John) chose to send me.