Volunteer awards – 2023/24

At the final home game of the season, Rory O’Sullivan, President of the Club, gave out special awards to two worthy recipients.

The first award was presented to David Tickner — the Supporter Volunteer of the Year. During the presentation Rory said “Dave is a someone who we only have to ask once and he gets it done. He quietly works in the background, fixing things for us, utilising his professional trade skills for the benefit of the Club. He’s like a mouse: he is there somewhere in the buildings, but you don’t necessarily see him sorting things out. We thank him for all the very good work he does for us.”

Paul Stack was then presented with the Mike Newsom Lifetime Contribution Award. The President said “I cannot think of a better person that merits recognition by receiving this prestigious Award. You are a shining example of what to do to win this Award and I hope that your rugby biography below will inspire others to follow in your footsteps at the Club in accomplishing so many things.”

Paul writes “I guess, in a strange way, it all started in 1958 when my father took me to the White City to watch the Club v Barbarians Centenary match under floodlights (there is a team photo of this match on the stairs to the Clubhouse bar). I also attended the 150th anniversary match and I’m hoping to attend the Bicentennial match in 2058, although I’ll be 112 so I might have to cadge a lift to the game..!

“However, I actually joined Blackheath in September 1964 after playing two seasons at Woolwich Polytechnic while still at school. The ground we played at was known as ‘The Poly’, then ‘Club @ Well Hall’ and now ‘The Utilita’… small world!

“My first game was on the 20th September, 1964, the day I met Mike Newsom, and started a great friendship that lasted nearly 59 years — we played Cheltenham College, away. My father travelled on the team coach, and I scored three tries playing in my favoured position, right wing.

“I played for the Brigands, the Heathens and finally, in 1967 and aged 20, the 1st. In 1968 I was selected for the Club tour to the USA. We flew from Heathrow to JFK: thirty players and 70 supporters! We flew on Thursday, played the first game on the Saturday and flew home overnight on the Saturday, three weeks later. We played 12 games, drew the first one and won 11. A fantastic tour with a lot of travelling (player welfare… what was that..?!!).

“I stopped playing Rugby in 1970 after numerous shoulder and knee injuries, and so I turned back to my other winter sport, football, playing back at ‘The Poly’ on the pitch that the 1st XV now play on (the small covered stand we now sit in was in place back then).

“In 1976, at the age of thirty, I was persuaded by the great ‘Club’ man and friend, Chris Benstead, to return to Blackheath (at that time John Legge was Coach and Ron Bailey was the Fitness and S&C Coach), but in early 1977, after another broken shoulder, I stopped playing again.

“I wanted to continue being a part of the Club, though, and asked if I could become Team Secretary to the Brigands (3rd XV) as they didn’t have one. In 1978 I replaced Bill Butler as the Heathens (2nd XV) Team Secretary, and at this time Mike Newsom was the Team Secretary of the 1st XV. In 1979 I became Joint Team Secretary of the 1st XV, with Mike. In 1980 Mike retired and I continued until 1987, when I felt that with two small sons it was time to stop!

“I continued to watch home games and act as the Match Day Liaison with the match officials and, from the early 2000s until the end of the 2023/24 season (when I resigned my post), I was the NCA/NLR Regional Secretary for London & S.E.”

The President says “Congratulations and thank you, once again, for everything you have done! And Paul — by the way, I would love to join you at the Bicentennial Match in 2058 so let’s order a cab and go together!”