By Kevin Westlake.
As the rugby season has come to an official close, we thought we would have a chat with some of our ball-boys. You will see this dedicated band of boys and girls attending every home match. Sometimes, the sun shines upon Brickfields, but most of the time, they work tirelessly in the blustery wind and driving rain to ensure the game continues without delay.
They are the unsung heroes of a matchday, along with the leader of the pack, Dave Stone. Their jobs include ensuring the players have their practice balls returned during the warm-up, making sure the matchday equipment is out on the pitch at the start and brought back at the end, as well as tidying the ground after the game. They form the guard of honour and also have the best seats in the house, sitting on each 22-metre line and on the halfway line.
Without their fine efforts, we would soon run out of balls to continue the game, especially as Connor Eastgate dispatches them to the roof of the stands and out of the ground.
The Ball Boys are a great reminder of how volunteers help to ensure our club is running in the best possible manner. This article focusses on Harry, Josh and Connor – three of our amazingly dedicated and supportive match ball technicians.
Harry (11) is the son of Kevin Westlake and the grandson of former Albion skipper and coach, Ray Westlake. He knows his stuff when it comes to rugby after schooling the England National Team on how to sing the national anthem in 2014, aged only 6 years old. He plays regularly for Ivybridge RFC and wants to be a number 8.
Josh and Connor are twin brothers (14), both play the game for Ivybridge RFC. They are both passionate about rugby and passionate about Plymouth Albion. They both play either second row or flanker. You will find their parents Scott and Clare supporting Albion from the touchline, both home and away from Brickfields.
We asked the three amigos some questions about Albion and rugby in general, and here is how they responded….
If you could pick one current England player to join Albion immediately, who would it be, and why?
JOSH: It would have to be Billy Vunipola. He creates plays that no-one would expect. He is strong and tough.
HARRY: Definitely Mike Brown. He is as hard as nails, he can run, he can catch, but he doesn’t pass much. I reckon he looks like a Janner at heart.
CONNOR: I would pick Henry Slade. He would add something special to our midfield and score lots of tries.
What makes Plymouth Albion the best team to support……ever?
JOSH: I love supporting Albion because it feels like a family. All of the players are so friendly and always talk to you.
HARRY: Albion is my team, I am proud to be from Plymouth, I love rugby!! So, who else would I support?
CONNOR: They are the best local team, with a great family atmosphere at every game.
Who is your favourite Albion player and why?
JOSH: Without a doubt, Josh Skelcey. He is brilliant at the Albion Camps, but even better when he pulls on the Albion shirt.
HARRY: Dan Pullinger. He is a beast, probably the best scrummager I have ever seen. He is funny, kind and loves Plymouth Albion too.
CONNOR: Sam Daly is my favourite. He is always determined to do his best whether we are winning or losing, he is always in high spirits.
What is your best memory of being at Albion?
JOSH: It has to be one of the first-ever Albion Camps. We had Herbie, Dean Squire, Pully and Robin Wedlake coaching us. It was class.
HARRY: I think it was being the mascot at the Jersey game back in 2014. We won the game by the skin of our teeth. The players really made me feel welcome for the first time. Since then I have been a big fan.
CONNOR: We went to one of the rugby camps. It rained so much we had to play tag rugby in one of the marquees with the coaches.
All three boys are part of a close-knit team of match ball technicians and know their support is critical to the success of the team. The players certainly appreciate their help and have got to know them all through matchdays and through our famous Rugby Camps during school holidays and half terms.
If you think your child would be interested in joining our ball boys next season, then please get in touch with the office to find out more. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org