The club has been profoundly shocked to learn of the sudden death of Tony Brown, after a heart attack.
Tony could probably boast a unique journey in rugby circles – when the “old” “New Gables” was built in the mid-eighties, Tony was employed in one of the several factories and offices which lay in the vicinity of what was then quite a barren Aviation Way. In those days, to boost revenue, the club used to offer day membership to these organisations and Tony joined as one of this category. Despite never having played the game seriously before, Tony soon developed a great interest and keenness for the game and became a regular at training. An extremely strong young man, and a high ranking judo black belt, Tony initially turned out for one of the club’s junior sides – in those days possibly the fifth or sixth fifteen, and never looked back from that moment. Within a few years he had not only reached the heights of the 1st XV but was indeed elected 1st XV captain in the early nineties. Given his lack of rugby background, the position in which he was best suited to play was a question for some discussion – he variously played on the wing, in the back row and even in the front row. To him it was unimportant where he played – he gave one hundred per cent at all times.
Tony was hugely-respected by all the club, both on and off the field, even when he went and joined Southend for a while! One abiding memory was the sight of Tony after the inaugural Summer Ball in the early nineties, dressed only in a wine-soiled tablecloth wrapped round his muscular torso at around six in the morning, taking on all-comers in a spontaneous sumo-wrestling tournament. Vague though the writer is, I feel sure that he triumphed. After a break from the game to concentrate on marriage and child-raising, Tony decided to return to his roots and was in action as recently as last month for the Rhinos in their pre-season match against Burnham. Tony gave an enormous amount to this club and, had things not taken such a tragic turn, it is certain that he had the capability to give it much more.
Our thoughts and love go out to the family on the loss of yet another club pillar.