Sonny Wilson: 25 Years of Rugby, time to hang up my boots!
Since picking up a rugby ball aged 6 for his Primary School 'Cleve Crusaders' under coach Steve Hass, Sonny Wilson has seen it all. A popular figure amongst rugby circles, I struggled to work out which teams Sonny hasn't been a part of! Over the years Sonny has laced-up for Myton Warriors, Hull Schools,Yorkshire County, Lambwath Lions, Bransholme plus several more! Now planning his retirement from the sport, here's what Sonny Wilson had to say about his 25 year rugby journey.
1. Talk us through some of the teams you've been involved with over the years.
"My first club was Lambwath Lions, the late Charlie Redfrern and my dad coached the team. I later moved to Ideal ABI which later became the first ever Myton Warriors team. I decided to join Myton because they played in the Yorkshire league so it was a step up for me and I was coached Martin Overton and Dave Leaf".
"When I was 17, my best mate Scott 'Spunky' Perkins persuaded me to play open age rugby down at Bransholme, and joining them was the best decision I have ever made! Dez Wilson, Brian Fitzpatrick and Gary Colgrave coached the team at the time .Since then Wayne Jackson, Andy Moody , Chris Cook ,and myself coached over last 6 years with Sonny Esslemont helping us out too when he wasn't busy with Hull KR. I spent 14 years at Bransholme and made mates for life".
2. Why have you chosen to hang up your boots?
"I think it's a good time to hang my boots up now because I have spent nearly all my life involved in rugby league and the body isn't what it used to be!, On top of that I have a young family and it's time they were given all my spare time now!"
3. What has rugby given you over the years?
"Rugby League has given me nearly everything in my life! All of my best mates, my current job and even meeting my wife was all down to rugby... so you could say my life revolved around the game. But in the early days I really think it taught me respect and discipline. Without it, who knows which road I could have ended up down?"
4. Who is the toughest player you have ever played against?
"This is tricky! I think the toughest player I've played against over the years was probably Karl Pryce (who ended up playing professionally for Wigan and Bradford). When I played for Hull Schools he played for Bradford schools. We heard they had this big physical 6 and on that day I think he really let us have it! Biggest 6 I have ever seen! I've also had some really good tussles with some Parker's / brownies players in the past The toughest team I think I've played was Parker's, and I'm sure those lads would agree! You ached for a few extra days after those games!
5. Who has been your biggest influence over the years?
"My teammate 'Dezy' influenced me the most. He knew when to put a arm around a player, and knew when to whisper in a players ear when their opposite number had been having it away with their wife! Dez ran Bransholme before I took over. Off the field he was the most honest person I have ever met... However he was a little bit more dishonest on it. Dez got the best out of all his team mates, and I think it was because of him I showed the bottle I did whilst I played!"
6. What is your funniest rugby memory?
This is hard as I have built up a lot of hilarious memories over the years, however the time we wound up Mike Patrick has to be the funniest! He was only a young kid and wasn't getting much game time so one morning before a game we told him that we had seen the team sheet and he was on the bench! He rocked up to the game had a banana and a energy drink. Then 5 mins later he had another banana and another energy drink, and then started taking these energy tablets! Soon as the team got named (and his name wasn't called) we just burst out laughing! He took it on the chin but he was the fastest cone boy I've ever seen!
7. Do you plan on taking a new role within community rugby?
"For now, I think I'll take a good break from the sport. Rugby has been in my life and took most of my weekends up for 25 years. It would be nice if my lad started playing! That might tempt me back to coaching maybe?
I'm going to keep my hand in the touch rugby competitions in the summer, Won't get hurt playing! I definitely won't miss playing in some of the conditions winter rugby has chucked at me so be nice to play with the Sun on my back!"
8. What do you think the future holds for amateur rugby league?
"Well I've heard rumours that there won't be a winter league next season, which doesn't surprise me! We keep loosing players due to work commitments or just lack of interest and every year more and more teams are folding! it's such a sad case of truth but the amateur game is at an all time low . Hopefully the committee can turn it around!"
9. Finally, how would you sum up your rugby career in 3 words.
"Memories for life!"