11 Tony Gourley

Harold Genders’s recruitment policy for the forwards to play for Fulham was that he wanted them big and experienced. Other words, like fierce and ferocious come to mind. Then, scrums were a place to fight for the ball, not just a way to restart game. These forwards could look after themselves. Not dirty – sending offs were relatively rare – but certainly hard.

Tony Gourley was a key member of the pack for the club’s first five seasons. He stayed loyal to the club when other players left in 1984, was club captain for his last three seasons and vice-captain in 1981–2. He captained Fulham against Australia in 1982.

Until he was 18, he played football and rugby union, joining Old Rochdalians RUFC after leaving school. He went training at Rochdale Hornets and he turned professional aged 20. He enjoyed nine years with Rochdale and played twice for Lancashire. In 1978 he joined Salford. In 1980, Fulham came in for him. Reg Bowden describes Tony as: “the best tackler we had. He had great enthusiasm and never took a backward step. He would always take the ball up, and is a tremendous character as well.”

Tony recalls: “There was a strong camaraderie for the players – travelling down for home matches and staying in the hotels.” A laceration of the eyeball against Bridgend in March 1985 forced Tony to retire from playing professionally.

125+6 appearances, 2 tries, 6 points