Leicester Tigers appearance record-holder David Matthews is celebrated in a special edition of the club’s matchday programme this weekend.
Saturday’s European Challenge Cup tie with Italian club Calvisano (3.00pm) sees the club celebrate David’s lengthy association with the Tigers, which began as a teenager in 1955.
Matthews made 502 first-team appearances and also served as captain, coach, director, president and life member before his death this summer at the age of 82.
And the legendary back-rower features on the cover of this weekend’s 100-page matchday magazine, which includes a section looking back on his life and playing career, as well as tributes from past team-mates, players and supporters.
Club chairman Peter Tom leads the praise of the man described as the ‘Legend’s Legend’.
“David did so much for the Tigers as a player and captain, then as coach, director, president and life member. But he was also so much more than that to so many people,” he says.
“It was a privilege to play under his captaincy and to call him a friend over all those years.
“He is, without doubt, an all-time great of this great club and he gave remarkable service to the Tigers.”
Ian ‘Dosser’ Smith – who himself turned out more than 300 times in green, white and red – remembered his close friend’s reaction to the European Cup Final win in 2001.
He explains: “Tigers of any generation regard David as the legend of legends. Different people know him in different ways – friend, mentor, guide, brother, father – but talk to anyone in rugby of his generation and of the next generations and you’ll see how big his influence has been.
“We talked together a lot, about rugby and about life in general, and if I can think of one moment that encapsulates him it was at the European Cup Final in Paris in 2001 – I said to him at the end ‘What do you think?’ and he started to well-up and he said ‘Without a doubt this is the greatest day in Tigers history. It has taken 120 years to get here and we all share in that history and getting to the club where we are’.
“I see him as the club’s greatest single influence because he wasn’t just a player, or just a coach, or just president or Board member because he did all of that and made a massive contribution to all of us.”
You can read more tributes to Matthews in this weekend’s matchday programme, available around the ground for just £3.
The Tigers matchday magazine has been refreshed this season with fresh features, a new look and more pocket-friendly size to allow supporters to keep up to date with the goings-on at both Welford Road and the club’s Oval Park training base.
This latest edition also includes a preview of European opponents Calvisano, a look at the Challenge Cup competition, and all the usual updates from the club’s development pathway, community team and Junior Tigers Club.