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Glory days relived for former Cornish Pirates player

By WMNlynbarton  |  Posted: November 14, 2013

Harry Matthews with Cornish Pirates players

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A former Cornish Pirates rugby player got the chance to relive his glory days when members of the current team paid a special visit.

Harry Matthews, an 88 year-old resident of Trevaylor Manor in Penzance, remains a lifelong supporter of the club after playing for the team following the Second World War.

He was treated to a trip down memory lane with a chance to chat to prop Alan Paver, number eight Laurie McGlone and media officer Phil Westren.

The players also brought along a selection of old photographs and programmes for Harry.

Mr Westren has known Harry for many years having worked with him away from the club.

He said: “Harry has been a consistently steadfast supporter of the Pirates, having first played for Penzance & Newlyn RFC back in 1947 and on into the ‘50s.

“Harry played second row and was a very fine player, but he also went on to be assistant treasurer of the club for a number of years.

"He was also president of the Penzance Operatic Society and the Penzance Bowling Club.

"He has always been fantastically community minded which is why we wanted to come and visit him today.”

Trevaylor Manor in Penzance is a care home for the elderly specialising in dementia care.

The visit was the idea of Sue Godfrey, manager of the dementia care unit and coincided with the Swallowcourt Group's recent sponsorship of the Pirates.

Sue said: “Although suffering from advanced onset dementia, Harry still has a very keen interest in rugby and he regularly listens to the Pirates games on the radio.

"It is amazing to see how he just clicked into it all.

"He even made sure we remembered his Pirates tie this morning. These are obviously memories that will stay with him for a long time and it just goes to show how powerful reminiscence can be.”

Mr Matthews was born in Newlyn and learned to play rugby at Truro School.

He served in the Royal Navy during World War II and also had a spell of playing rugby for Bristol who the Pirates are playing on November 24.

One of the visiting players, Alan Paver, has played prop for the Pirates for the last 11 years.

He said: “I’ve been playing for the team since it was referred to as Penzance & Newlyn so the history of the club is very important to me.

"I met Harry when he used to come and watch games, but to actually come and visit him today and to share some of his memories has been fantastic.

“Seeing all of the old programmes from the ‘50s makes you realise that Harry and his fellow players must have gone through all the same feelings that we do today, the nerves, the jubilation of a good win, or the disappointment of a loss.

"It’s a real honour to come along and say thank you from all of the players for all that Harry has done for the Pirates.”

Mr Westren added:“Although Cornish rugby has changed, ultimately it is still sport and although the players nowadays are professionals they came into the game because they enjoyed playing rugby football as much I’m sure the likes of Harry did in years gone by.”

Trevaylor Manor is one of seven care homes owned and operated by The Swallowcourt Group.

*Cornish Pirates play Bristol at home on November 24, kick off at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased from the club’s ticket office (01736-331961), open Monday to Friday from 9am until 12 noon, or for more general information including online tickets please visit: cornish-pirates.com.

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