Club stalwart Polly is honoured for his efforts at Old Elizabethans
DAVE 'Polly' Perkins' remarkable contribution to the Old Elizabethans club and the wider Bristol rugby community was marked with a surprise 'This is your Life' dinner at the County Ground.
More than 100 club members, friends and officials attended the event which celebrated the former Bristol scrum-half completing 25 years as president of Old Es.
The evening traced the career of one of Bristol's most loved sporting characters, from early beginnings at Bristol Grammar School to appearances for both Cambridge and Oxford University as well as Old Bristolians.
Polly, pictured, also made 41 appearances at scrum-half for Bristol from 1966-71, scoring four tries, with the highlight being a 1970 head-to-head with the great Gareth Edwards as Cardiff came off second best after a 13-6 result.
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But to hundreds of rugby players across Bristol, Polly is best known for his work as a coach. He joined the QEH school staff in 1968 and has now completed 44 years' of service there on the training pitch and on the touchline, continuing to preach his philosophy of total rugby.
His service to the England Schools' Rugby Union has been recognised with an honorary life membership. An avid runner who has completed 14 London marathons, he has also served as the president of Westbury Harriers since 1992.
The evening concluded with Polly, thanks to the procurement of an inflatable camping mattress, reproducing his famed dive pass for one last time. Phil Cheek, the chairman of Old Es, said: "I'm not sure that before now we have really appreciated exactly what Dave has done for the club as well as the rugby community here in Bristol.
"I've known him for 40 years, and played under him at QEH where the first team, when he was coaching, had a win ratio of 75 per cent.
"There was a three-year period when that ratio went up to 95 per cent which was a remarkable achievement because of the quality of the fixture list and because Dave always wanted his teams to win by scoring tries rather than by securing territory and kicking goals.
"His contribution to our club has been huge and we're honoured to have him as our president."
Polly said: "For once I'm totally speechless. I did not have a clue that this was going to happen, but it's been a lovely evening with a lot of nostalgia."
Old Es this season failed to put a side out on two occasions and were relegated from Gloucester Two to the bottom tier in the league system, leading to question marks over the club's future.
But Cheek said: "We cannot allow the club to die, not after an evening life this. I'm an eternal optimist and we will keep going, but we do need to increase our playing numbers.
"We have good links with the school and will be trying to make youngsters realise that the club has a lot of history and tradition which we hope will prove to be attractive."
Awards – Player of the year: Tom Verber; Most improved player: Joe Singleton; Young Player: Sam Wood; Players' player, James Almond; Clubman: Dave Perkins; Character of the year: Paul Barrington.