Mr Ipswich Rugby Club

Terry Mullett has been a player, captain and president of Ipswich Rugby Club. He tells rugby reporter MARK ARMSTRONG about his memories at Humber Doucy Lane.

Terry Mullett has been a player, captain and president of Ipswich Rugby Club. He tells rugby reporter MARK ARMSTRONG about his memories at Humber Doucy Lane

MENTION Terry Mullett around Ipswich Rugby Club and 55 years worth of memories will come flooding back.

Terry, 77, has been part of the Humber Doucy Lane club's furniture for more than half a century, but did you know he was one of the founding fathers of a third rugby club in Ipswich?

When Terry left school in 1949 as a 16-year-old he played for Northoaks, a club which was a combination of old boys from Northgate Grammar School and St Joseph's College.

“I had a bit of time after leaving Northgate before I had to do national service and a team had been formed called Northoaks.

“To be honest I'm not sure too many people remember the club. When people think of rugby in Ipswich they think of Ipswich Rugby Club and Ipswich YM but there was another team once upon a time.

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“I played there for around 18 months and we would play friendlies against local sides like Ipswich, Sudbury and Bury.

“We were quite a useful side but after I had come out of the RAF the team had disbanded.”

And so Terry's association with Ipswich Rugby Club began.

Upon finishing his two years' national service at Sutton on Hull, where Terry captained his station's team, he started working for the Eastern Counties Farmers in the grain trade, but found himself without a game of rugby to be played.

“I had a look through the papers to see where my old friends were playing and I noticed they were at Ipswich Rugby Club so I joined them - it was as simple as that.”

It was the start of an association that continues to this very day.

Terry joined the club when they played at Bourne End and was with the club when they moved to their current home at Humber Doucy Lane in 1959.

Terry started out in the third XV as a second rower but soon found himself working up the ranks, becoming a first-team regular within a year.

With no leagues for local teams to compete in, Ipswich played “friendlies” but Terry joked this term wasn't quite appropriate.

Terry took over as captain in the club's centenary year in 1970 and remembers playing a series of top matches against teams like Wasps and a President's International XV, which included Scotland international Alastair McHarg.

“We played quite a few representative teams and I remember playing against a Presidents' International XV. I can't remember the score but I think we got walloped!”

While it was commonplace for players to be plucked from the regional game by clubs, Terry said he was never concerned what level he could aspire to despite playing for representative side the Eastern Counties Wanderers.

“I only ever played for enjoyment and I never really had any thoughts of going any higher than I got.

“If someone put me forward for a representative side then that would be great but I would only ever play for the enjoyment of the game.”

Shortly after his spell as Ipswich captain, Terry moved to Lincoln on business where he continued to play rugby, captaining the Lincoln Rugby Club second XV and becoming chairman of selectors.

But upon his return to Ipswich, he began to realise that his playing days were drawing to a close.

“I was lucky enough never to have to stop playing rugby because of injury. I tore ligaments and the rest of it just as a lot of players do.

“But I remember when I was 46 playing in a social side and I was getting hammered by young lads and I knew then that it was time to give it up.”

This wasn't to be the end of Terry's involvement with Ipswich Rugby Club though and he was invited to be president in 1981, and for a second term in 1995 to mark the club's 125th anniversary.

Terry admits the game has changed immeasurably since his time at the helm but hopes the club can increase its membership base over the next few years.

“There's a lack of new members but that's the same for a lot of clubs at the moment. Young players now go off to university and often end up working there so clubs miss out on this generation.

“But it's great to see the upturn in form recently and long may that continue.”

You can bet that Terry will be there to watch it.