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Legends live on always

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The great man made it. But only just. About an hour-and-a-half after the final whistle of Sunday's Legends match, Martin Johnson walked back into the Tigers dressing room.

A legend among legends, Johnno was mobbed on the pitch and spent 90-plus minutes signing autographs and having photos taken with supporters, many of whom were not even born when he bestrode the rugby world.

Even in the environment of a contest organised to aid Louis Deacon’s Benefit Year and the Matt Hampson Foundation, you could see what made Johnno the best.

The game was barely moments old when the International Legends felt the full force of Johnno at a breakdown and, soon afterwards, he was the first man to support a clean break and hit the contact area with all the enthusiasm of old.

The rocking running style, the black-taped fingers, the lineout catches, the contacts hit, the leadership, the respect from both sides and the fanastic following from the stands, Johnno had it all and then some.

He was not alone either, The Tig almost shed a tear when the likes of Darren Garforth, Martin Corry, Lewis Moody, Harry Ellis, Tim Stimpson, Dorian West and Julian White were welcomed to the fray. Adding Geordan, Brett and Chutes from the current team was a superb touch too.

And what about Aadel Kardooni, probably giving a 10-year headstart to everyone else on the pitch and still spinning the passes? He didn’t even have to do it from the large shadow of a stooped Dean Richards either as the back-row legend remained firmly sidelined, directing from the touchline.

Paul Gustard looked like he could run out in league action again tomorrow, judging by the speed out of the line to make the hit, Craig Joiner and Glenn Gelderbloom emerged from a time machine to reclaim their places, while Jeremy Staunton must have enjoyed providing the 'legs' for some of his more mature colleagues.

The Hambo Legends were a treat too, with Jason Robinson showing a couple of glimpses of the old footwork and a humility with supporters which shows the true value of the man. Shaun Edwards lapped it up on the touchline as coach, enjoying some banter with the terrace, and it was great to see Hambo himself, inspirational as ever, on the touchline.

And Spreaders played it beautifully as ref, reacting with the crowd and ignoring touch-judges Peter Short and Jim Hamilton as much as possible!

Any more and The Tig would have been unable to bear it, but we just about pulled through. Thank guys for an amazing afternoon, so glad you allowed 16,500 of your fans to share it.