4:00pm Thursday 16th January 2014
By Ross McLean
ANY Kendal RUFC hall of fame would be sure to include three names which will go down in club folklore – Billy Coxon, Duncan Green and Richard Harryman.
Between them, the front row trio have amassed close to 1100 appearances and scored 151 tries, with any retirement plans shelved for the foreseeable future.
Loose-head prop Coxon (431 appearances), hooker Green (268) and tight-head prop Richard Harryman (379) have done battle side by side for the last decade.
Back in 2003, Harryman’s return to Mint Bridge from a short spell at National One side Wakefield coincided with an increased exposure to first-team action for Green.
And while there are not many certainties in life, former captain Coxon in a black and amber shirt is one – omnipresent for the best part of two decades.
At one stage or another Director of Rugby Steve Whitehead has played alongside the much-heralded triumvirate and he is in no doubt of their value to the club’s history as well as its future.
“I don’t think we have had the like before and it will be a very long time before we see the like again,” he said.
“All three are similar in nature, dedicated to what they do and don’t make a fuss. They just go about their work.
“They are known way beyond the county for their ability and they do what they do for the good of the club and team rather than their own ends.
“All three play for the right reasons. They have made sacrifices and will continue to do so and are the sort of guys that put a lot more in than they take out.
“There is more knowledge in that front row than anywhere else and to be able to rely on them, especially when the chips are down, is a nice position to be in.
“You don’t have to tell them much, they know when to turn it on and when we need a big scrum or something to turn the game around.
“They just give you a quiet nod and know what to do and when to do it and can really control games upfront.”
Only in this setting would someone as experienced as Green be classed as the junior entity, but he is and the 33-year-old is keen to extol the virtues of his partners in crime.
“Billy and Richard are just star players,” he said. “I started watching them play for Kendal’s first-team when I was a teenager and playing for the juniors.
“I went away travelling in New Zealand for a couple of years before coming back to the senior side and the two of them have given me a bit of an armchair ride since.
“They are top players and friends as well. By keeping going at such a good level they are an example to me and others – you cannot really have any thoughts of packing in early!”
Coxon’s length of service means he is steeped in the club’s fabric, making his presence felt during some standout moments – both good and bad – of the recent past.
“One of the highlights for me was the London Scottish cup game at home where overall I thought we could perhaps have won and produced a shock,” he added.
“Another was the promotion season to what was National League One, those are the two big memories.
“The low point would be the year I was captain and we got relegated without winning a game I think.
“Although I’ve been here for a while there is definitely some unfinished business and promotion from our current division is the aim.
“It would be nice this season but perhaps next year is more realistic.”
Like the other home-grown talents, Harryman does not see age or more specifically the physical nature of the prop position as a barrier to continued success.
“I’ve always played prop so I don’t know any different,” he said. “It’s a tough position to play, especially tight-head as it’s quite technical, but I’ve always done it.
“I’ve never been a great trainer to be honest, I’ve always preferred just playing but you have to train to be able to keep going and carry on.
“It’s satisfying to play as many games as I have for the club and I’m proud of that.
“We’re in a similar position now to when I first came to the club and the motivation is to turn things around and become the leading club in Cumbria again.
“We’re starting to do that and I’ll keep contributing as I’ve always done – I used to score quite a lot of tries but that side of things has slowed down a bit, old age probably.”
One thing is certainly clear though, in no way does familiarity breed contempt in the forward ranks at Mint Bridge.
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