SATURDAY, March 15th was an important date for Ballymoney player John Waide as he pulled on his club’s jersey for the SEVEN HUNDREDTH time!
Loose head prop John began playing with the Kilraughts Road club in the 1980/81 season and he has continued ever since.
Originally from Clough, John has lived in Ballymoney for over 20 years now and says he considers it a “privilege” to have played for the club on 700 occasions.
“It has been a privilege and honour to play for Ballymoney as I have enjoyed my rugby no matter which team I have played for and, in the process, have made some life long friends,” he said.
Factory manager John continued: “I didn’t play in the junior section in Ballymoney because, at that time, there was only the under 18’s.
“On leaving school I did not play for a few years and I think I was 20 before I recommenced playing.
“I believe the current youth structure at our club is fantastic.
“It is great to see a vibrant mini and youth set-up. It is the only way forward. We want to create a conveyor belt where young players roll off, year in year out, and play at all levels within the club.”
So after 700 outings in a Ballymoney shirt, John has many stories to tell but most, he joked, are unprintable!
He did recall some of his toughest encounters on the rugby pitch over the years.
“The best prop - or most awkward one - I recall was a fellow from Academy but I can’t recall his name.
“I have played against a few International and provincial props but none gave me any grief except for the one above.
“I have been fortunate to play with some real characters and a lot of really good players.
“On the way, we won a few league titles and cups in the process.”
After six weeks without a match due to the weather, John was eager to pull the shirt on and get playing for the 700th time on Saturday.
“I just take each game as it comes.
“I always say - play as long as you are enjoying the game but no, I don’t see 800 happening!” he added.