Rugby: Milestone for North Walsham prop Stuart Loose
When he runs out with his North Walsham teammates at Thurrock on Saturday prop Stuart Loose will be making a landmark 400th first team appearance for the club.
By any standard and in any sport such a total is pretty rare. To achieve it for one club, in a position as injury prone as a front row forward, is exceptional – as is the fact that on only 11 occasions has he come off the bench.
A local lad, brought up in Trunch, Stuart attended Mundesley Primary School and then North Walsham High, where he came under the influenece of George Howard, a founder member of North Walsham, and also met, and later married Donna, the daughter of Keith Jarvis, himself a virtual fixture at Scottow.
His early days at Scottow were spent under then coach and now chairman of the club Richard Flatters. As soon as he was 18 he was drafted into the first team, making his debut off the bench against Barking in March, 1994. That season he made four full appearances, against Basingstoke and Camborne in the National League and Sudbury and Cambridge in the Eastern Counties Cup.
His first full season was the 1996-97 campaign alongside a variety of front row partners but probably the most memorable partnership began in 2001-02 season when hooker Gideon Rossouw arrived from South Africa, followed a season later by tight head prop Tim Groom from Diss. Known as The Beasts, the triumvirate endured until the end of the 2006-07 season when Groom returned to Diss. The trio played well in excess of 100 games together.
The front row can be a dangerous area and 'Stuey' has had his fair share of injuries and at one point had to undergo surgery for a serious neck injury. Now just a few weeks short of his 36th birthday, he is probably looking to take a break and spend more time with Donna and children Jessica, nine, and seven-year-old George, who is already following in his dad's studmarks while showing a bit more pace. A carpenter by trade, when retirement from the rugby pitch does come, it will no doubt be spent in and around the house he built himself at Trunch spending his leisure hours walking his dog and indulging in his hobby of cooking meals for family and friends.
Walsham have nothing to lose and will throw everything they have at league leaders Thurrock on Saturday. Nick Greenhall will no doubt have the usual selection problems to sort out but must impress on his players that defence wins games.
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With the Vikings away the Raiders, who are learning how to win, travel down the A11 to play Wymondham II at Tuttles Lane (2.15pm).