News for 4/2021

Photo of Shaun Rooke

Shaun Rooke

Today in a service at St Marylebone Chapel, Finchley we said goodbye to John Young. John was born on 20th May 1971 in Hertfordshire and after briefly moving to the north east to study, he returned to London and his main interest of rugby led him to Hackney rugby club. It wasn't plain sailing however, after the clubhouse burnt down in 1999, John's tenure as first team captain saw the player numbers hover around the magical number of the bare 15 for a while. It would take a captain who was a great player, committed to the cause and above all a friendly persuader who could retain the delirious few who turned up and grow it into more to keep the ship afloat. A colossus who led by example on the field but create a social environment off the field which kept people coming back regardless of the results or the fact the club had nothing at the time but a spirit. Fortunately for the hundreds who have joined since and forged glorious memories at Hackney RFC, John was the ideal man for this inauspicious task and the club survived and grew. Fast forward to 2009, momentum is building and after recent promotions and the rebirth of a mens 2nd XV, Hackney won the chance to play at Twickenham after being nominated club of the year, running out onto the hallowed turf for an inter-club match as a curtain raiser to the Premiership Final. The club was buzzing. The team sheet would run in the match day programme, the sides would be announced on the screens in the stadium. But there were only 30 spaces, and the club had the difficult job of working out who would, and wouldn’t, get to enjoy this experience. John gave up his place. The player who had done more to get Hackney there than any other wouldn’t be on the bus. There was no drama, he didn’t expect any praise… in fact he’d have hated to be made a fuss of. He just stepped aside so someone else could go. That was the man John was. Stoic, yet compassionate. Unshowy, yet generous. John was chairman and later secretary of the club following his stint as Men's 1st XV captain, he retired from playing in 2014. During this period, John was instrumental in the formation of the ladies team, the rebuilding of the changing room building and the merger with the junior section. His calming presence and hard work was vital in creating the club we have today with hundreds of adult players, 14 junior teams, community outreach and charity fundraising at a club which is one of the greatest in London. It's a long way from 15 blokes getting changed pitch side just to fulfil a fixture so the name Hackney RFC continues. Whatever the legacy, what many of us will miss the most will be the chats over pints. The foundation which this club is build on is the spirit which John created, long may it continue We've set up a donation and condolence page, the proceeds of which will be given to the Barnardo's children charity and the rugby club in accordance with the families wishes

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