Age: My mental age is about twelve and my physical one seems about seventy-seven.
Born: Kingston-upon-Thames, UK, in 1957.
Education: I went to a Catholic boarding school in Berkshire at seven and came away with three A levels and healthy respect for the cane. Thence to Building College in Guildford, Surrey, and somehow acquired two diplomas with distinctions and a physics O’ level (a mandatory requirement I didn’t have before the courses).
First job: Management trainee with Holland Hannon & Cubitts, a much respected firm in the days of Charles Dickens. My second as a planning engineer with Costains based in Maidenhead.
Family background: I was the second child in a family of four kids with three sisters. Dad was a very bright, successful solicitor and Mum the greatest person in the world.
Family today: I have managed to have a number of families of my own and I am the proud father of six kids from various wives. Identical beautiful twin daughters: Holly and Sam, a huge No1 son Billy, and then Danny now nineteen and at university in London. My new offspring are two wee girls; Jessica at three and a toddler Nicky at one.
Your profession: I am a Building Project Manager.
Where do you live in Thailand?
I bought a condo some years ago in Soi Soonvichai off Petchaburi Road near the Bangkok General hospital – a great location – near enough to the new airport, supermarkets all around and a short taxi ride to some bars/restaurants in Sukhumvit…oh and the safety net of the hospitals nearby!
How long in Thailand?
I came here in 1991 as the Country Manager for a JV with a Hong Kong company. I was on my own at first to check-out the lie of the land then my wife and three kids followed when I had prepared the house, staff, schools and stuff.
In UK at the time the building industry was going through a massive slump so there was very little work. A QS buddy I was working with when we were rebuilding the Palm Hose in Kew Gardens recommended, I contact his old boss in Hong Kong as he needed a No.2 in his building firm. He posted me to Thailand. Later I set myself up in small building consultancy companies but suffered badly by clients not paying during the late 90s. I have worked these passed fifteen years with Bruce Hill and his company ACH Management.
Your current state of health?
Well despite a truly ignorant and careless grasp of how my body works beyond; eating, taking on fluids and attending the WC as needed – it remains a mystery as to how this bucket is still working.
I have badly injured knees for being a Fat boy (rugby term) and lots of snow skiing so running for a cab is a nono these days. I don’t and never have smoked, my eyes work ok and the evidence shows there is no shortage of sperm. Well there is now – I went for the snip to save on school fees!
Why write a book about rugby? I was just closing out a four-year construction project in Sarawak Borneo, when I considered all the fun and laughs and mischief we had enjoyed playing rugby in Bangkok and on tours in Asia. All the rugby books on the market are mainly autobiographies from the stars of the day, and are a little stilted and frankly too sanitised. I understand why of course – but I thought readers needed something more earthy, real, truthful… incriminating.
Any previous experience as an author, or just good at English at school?
None. My father is frankly astounded I can string three words together. The stories started a little naively and maybe didn’t flow so well but the crazy syntax improved. Actually, short true stories were easy as they simply came from my memory and flowed off the proverbial tongue. Many are exactly that – pub stories reiterated ad nauseam.
Nope. I did need some guys to provide me some facts or names or filth but mainly the plots were all there and I hope I have captured the tales, the mischief, and the wanton behaviour? Guy Hollis and Bob Merrigan both have elephantine memories and helped with clarifications. Of course, my Editor Duncan Stearn corrected all the spelling and sentence dithering
When did you first pick up a rugby ball?
At boarding school at about seven years old. Those days it was not like the mini rugby structures of today.
What position did you play?
Flanker or blindside wing-forward at school and later at my club rugby side Windsor. I was the crude battering ram and muscle to my super destructive tackling buddy Lindsay Small who was the openside flanker. But I liked the number seven so I simply nicked that shirt off him and told the captain we were playing left and right. Lindsay wasn’t there for the wardrobe arguments. Later I turned to be the shortest No 8 on the planet here in Thailand and then by gravity reached the front row.
Any playing honours?
Our greatest accolade, well certainly mine was winning the Thailand First division league in 1993 with a great team; it had never been done by a ‘farang’ side in history. Oh… and winning the Cup and an endless supply of Pernod in a North Eastern French tournament in about 1979.
Any major rugby injuries?
Broken lots of fingers, toes and a collar bone once. Lost skin by the yard and no end of split faces and a broken nose once which didn’t improve my looks. My knees and feet are now a worry but they have been badly abused. The injuries are, in my opinion, worth all the fun and camaraderie for sure.
Have you played any other sports?
I have always had a bash at most things: Boxing - useless, surfing – sad to possibly proficient; snow skiing since I was twelve. In fact, I was good and very capable. Water skiing was easier on a mono but boring compared to the vagaries of the snow and slopes and ice. Scuba diving, bowling (woods not the Yankee ten pin), football – pathetic completely uncoordinated below the hips. Squash but I am too slow and meaty for that game. Tennis was my summer game really.
Why are rugby players and supporters so different in their behavior and attitudes compared to football fans?
Wow that’s a big one. I think mainly it must be the whole ethos of the rugby code. It’s a very physical and frankly dangerous sport and you must respect the opposition and help and aid your team, your mates and always the Referee. I even said that with a Capital ‘R’. The Referee is fundamental to the matches and the total respect one must have for authority – that trait is absolutely laughable in soccer. The fans – well most rugby fans have actually played the game and retired early or late and KNOW how to behave even if surrounded by the opposition fans. Banter and ribald comments are all part of rugby’s story.
So arguments and punches thrown during a game (as often happens) are immediately forgotten in the bar later on?
On the whole yes. Despite smashing the opposition at every possible opportunity before the final whistle goes - after that its shake hands and clap the beggars off the pitch and then to the bar. There is no end of teasing, mockery, joking and discussion on the punch-ups and big hits in the bar but as you said that is over a beer or five.
It's expected that boys will behave badly on tour, right?
Another big question. It’s simply, I think, that unlike a game on Saturday or mid-week, the lads are all together for say, four or five days or longer and expectations, a holiday atmosphere, pre-tour buildup, foreign climes, and the promise of cuddly options can, maybe induce some mischief. ‘Nuff said?
Do ladies-only rugby tours happen?
I’ve never been on one. Yes indeed and we often encounter the Ladies from Hong Kong and our own sides in Bangkok at tournaments around Asia. They are no Mother Teresa’s I can assure you!
The worst behavior or craziest stunt you’ve ever witnessed while on a rugby tour?
It’s completely unacceptable today and very bold even then but back in the early 90s the team went on a local tour to Phuket and in the Fines Court on Sunday one of our very Middle-Eastern looking players was dared to rush into the open restaurant opposite, dump his kit bag on the floor and run out waving his arms and shouting Allah Akbar!! The reaction was delayed to start with and then abject chaos and panic. An awful simply awful ruse – but they should have known as the rest of the team was only across the street egging on the guys and generally misbehaving?
The funniest stunt or moment you’ve ever witnessed while on a rugby tour?
I think the tale about ‘Bishop to Porn 3’ tells that one. Read and believe…
Is it true that what goes on during a rugby tour stays on tour?
Oh yes… definitely. Until now of course….Hmmm.
What happens when the above rule is not followed?
To my knowledge that has never happened. It Lore and Law in any club. There is no need to incite speculation with any tales or suggested mischief and upset girlfriends or wives so best to simply keep Mum.
What’s your favorite rugby tour destination, and why?
Thailand is an absolute haven for golfers and rugby players alike – for the good food of course! Hong Kong and Singapore are experienced player destinations but too expensive. South Africa was a fabulous destination but far too dangerous on the pitch.
The Philippines – it’s got to be the Flippers: sun, sea, Suur and comely wenches – for those not in a relationship of course!
Your favorite rugby moment?
Winning the Thailand League 1 Cup in 1993. Unique and unmatched to date.
Worst rugby moment?
Losing the same Cup in the last minute of 1992.
Best team you ever played for?
Probably that 1993 British Club side – we even had Marcus Carling playing centre then whilst his brother Will was captaining England. I even sent Marcus to the bench for defying my rule not to kick the ball to the Thai opposition. Magic moments!
Best team you ever faced?
Wasps 2nd team back in about 1979 when we at lowly Windsor RFC played away against about five England players returning from injury. Lost 77-4.
Best team you’ve ever watched?
I was in the crowd at the Sydney final in 2003 when England won the World Cup. Remember they went to extra-extra time and only Johnny Wilkinson’s drop goal ended the hysteria and started the euphoria.
World’s best-ever players?
I’ve met Jona Lomu of All Blacks fame in the flesh and would never want to tackle that munt, God rest him. The Springbok Joost van de Westhausen was again a brilliant, hard superstar – God rest him too. I do hope Justin Marshall is going to be OK now he’s on my trio of the best…but he was fabulous and now the most impartial and accurate New Zealand TV commentator.
Rugby in Thailand – how do you rate it?
When we came in 1991 it was all backs and running and skills but no emphasis or ability in the forwards. With dietary changes they are much bigger now and compete well but I fear they don’t travel well and lack some real coaching direction on being ruthless winners.
Who’s your best mate in Thailand?
No doubt: Bruce Hill. He’s the $%#@ who brought me out of my divorce doldrums and got me playing again in the late 90s. He’s been my protecting younger brother and my employer for years.
When your rugby playing days are over, what do you do?
My last game was when I was fifty – eleven years ago now. The knees had simply had enough and if you cannot get near the ball what’s the point. I don’t enjoy watching much – because I’m jealous of the fitness and fun of others playing our game I guess – and despite a wealth of misdemeanour experience I don’t coach well either. I guess I have now turned to writing?
Outside of rugby…….your high and low points in Thailand?
The highs are easy: Fun with the kids on holiday when we first came and the British Club facilities we enjoyed. The food and the capital’s ever improving entertainment. It’s a warm, never chilly haven of tropical bliss. The lows and there have been a few: my first, most unexpected divorce and loss of our first three kids later when they returned to UK. The second being when my second wife absconded to Indonesia with my son Danny. Very upsetting and frankly a vile thing to do…sniff.
Most interesting person you’ve ever met?
I have had the privilege to meet Margret Thatcher and then our own dear Queen here in Bangkok. A personal one-on-one face to face chat with Queen Elizabeth should have been my high point – but I was so stupefied with shock and awe I simply mumbled and bumbled and left her in no doubt why the Empire has crumbled!
As a precaution to others, where do rugby players hang out in Bangkok?
Today I am a little out of touch after four years in Borneo but – Soi Cowboy at Sukhumvit 23 is a perpetual oasis, Soi 33 bars have all gone and so maybe Patpong and Nana plaza – but again maybe the average rugby lad has improved from the slimy degenerates we were and they have found bijou restaurants instead?
Your favorite Bangkok restaurant?
Wow just chose one? Historically, with lots of memories and burps of satisfaction: Himali Cha Cha.
Best place to visit in Thailand?
For food, beach fun, sunshine, kids and adult sports games – Phuket’s west coast. For history and respect – Kanchanaburi and the Bridge over the River Kwae.
What’s next for you?
Book #2…already written actually just need to see how this one goes…
Any final thoughts?
Nope all those questions have quite tuckered me out.