From the ultimate high to the ultimate low

Although I didn’t realise it at the time, this would be the last traditional Thorneycroft and Allen family Christmas. Christmas was a huge occasion for the Thorneycrofts and Allens, and it was never to be the same again. For twenty-one years I had been part of a close knit family where my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins would all come together to celebrate. The person who was the responsible for keeping the family together would never again be part of this festive period. I often reminisce about these Christmases and, although I will never be able to relive them, I’m very lucky to have been part of such great fun.

At the beginning of the New Year on 12th January 1991, I played in Buck’s first league game for the Saints against Leicester and witnessed the clash of the Titans starring Buck Shelford and Dean Richards, the incumbent England number eight. We lost that day, but it was Buck who raised the standards of Northampton Saints. He was not used to losing and wasn’t prepared to even consider it now, at the twilight of his career. Buck was thirty-four years old and I was fast approaching my twenty-first birthday. To say that I was influenced by him is an understatement. This was a man who carried the respect of a nation.


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