For the Phelan family, like so many others involved in grassroots sport, rugby has been a huge part of family life. I grew up, alongside my sister and so many of the other players’ children, on the sidelines at Racal Decca RFC. I couldn’t have been more than a couple of months old when I was first on the touch line with my mum watching my dad play.
Every Saturday was rugby day. I have so many great memories of running riot on the touch line with my sister and our friends. After the games too, once mum had served up the after match teas, I’d be jumping all over dad and the players, causing all manner of mischief.
Fast forward a few years, dad was still playing and I had just turned 17 and ready to play alongside him in the second row on a weekly basis. Anyone who has played alongside their son or their dad will know the feeling – it was brilliant, and we got to play alongside each other for a good couple of seasons. I will have to wait a fair few years before I get to play alongside my son who was born earlier this year. That’s if my body holds up – rugby can take its toll.
My partner now brings our children down to the games to support, in the same way myself and my sister were on the touch line at the same age. My brother-in-law also plays for Decca, which is fantastic. My sister is still involved and still a part of the club, and even my stepfather has played a few games for us. My uncle is the club’s tour manager, while my childhood best friend is now our winger.
The players that we idolised are now great friends. They watched us grow up and I’m sure they have stories to tell.
With the next generation of Phelan arriving with my son, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him, but Decca will be a huge part of his life just as it has been for all of us.
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