By Dusty Hare - 394 games for Tigers, plus 25 England caps between 1976-89
When I first joined Tigers in 1976 with Chalkie White at the helm we were playing flowing rugby. Risks were taken, we would attack from behind the posts, we did all sorts of things, they were enjoyable interesting times. We were lucky to have some good players that came together with a very good coach who was superb at motivating us all in our different ways, to make a very successful team. We got to a cup final in the 1977 season and went on from there.
When leagues were introduced, having been away together for three weeks on Tigers' world tour to Australasia, we were well prepared and focused together as a team. There were quite a few highlights in that first season, one of which was playing Bristol in December whilst some of the players were away in divisional games. All the press had written us off, Bristol were favourites.
Tigers 39-15 victory against Waterloo clinched the inaugural Courage Clubs Championship in 1988
We played young second team players - Jez Harris and Tom Smith - I was captain on day, and as the game went on the more we thought we were going to win. Jez and myself kept pinning Bristol back, and at the end of the game 4000 fans gave us rapturous applause. Considering there was divisional rugby on at same time, that was a lot of fans. That was a game we could easily have lost, we turned it and won the match and went on to win the league.
The Barbarians matches were always special, It's a shame we can't fit the game into the calendar at present but you can't dwell in the past. I remember playing London Scottish twice one season - once in the cup we had to go into extra time, and I still went to Grimsby the next day for another game. We were written off in the 1989 semi final against Harlequins, who had all the stars like Paul Ackford, but we won that match with that great kick through from Les Cusworth that sat up perfectly for me to score.
Peter Wheeler hoists the 1980 John Player Cup trophy at Twickenham
Passing the 7000 point mark at Nuneaton on New Years Eve, and of course being honoured with an MBE on that day, was a really great memory. In the game at Nuneaton, we had a nightmare first half, the record never looked in danger. Then the team played well in the second half and I broke 7,000 points with 10 minutes to go.
It's nice to see that some of old players are still helping out at Tigers. I feel we are going back to the old fashioned way of the club, the way it used to be, and everyone can se the importance now of running second team and junior sides.
|Pld 419, Won 304, Drew 9, Lost 106|
|Biggest win:||95-6 vs Birmingham on 17 Sep 1986|
|Most Appearances in Era:||Les Cusworth 309, Dusty Hare 292+1, Paul Dodge 266+2|
|Most Tries in Era:||Barry Evans 156, Dean Richards 82, Nick Youngs 71|
|Most Points in Era:||Dusty Hare 3423, Les Cusworth 844, Barry Evans 626|