Ex-player returns to watch his first game in more than 70 years at Westoe

Former Westoe Rugby Club player Harold Yeoman
Former Westoe Rugby Club player Harold Yeoman

The memories of yesteryear came flooding back for former Westoe Rugby player Harold Yeoman as he watched his first game from the sidelines in more than 70 years.

The 96-year-old was guest of honour at the home match on Saturday where the lads took on The Medicals from Newcastle.

Wrapped up in a blanket, the former Flight Lieutenant during the war braved the rain to watch the team in action.

Earlier this month, Harold - who is a widower - was taken on a tour of the venue which inspired his love of the game after it was discovered he had once played at the ground.

A former worker at the weights and measures department following the war, he said: “The last time I saw a rugby match being played was during the war.

“It did take me back to the time I was playing. I kept remembering little things. I remember how I broke my arm but still played the match.

It has brought back a lot of memories.

Harold Yeoman

“It’s a lot more scientific the game now compared to when I was playing, but it has brought back a lot of memories.”

He also recalled how his cousin, who was a prop forward, would travel from Whitley Bay to play for Westoe and his mum used to make him lunch every day.

Harold Yeoman was a young boy growing up in South Shields, when he was first taken to the town’s Westoe Rugby Club ground, in Dean Road, where his father, James, and older brother, Arthur, played.

It was only a matter of time before a young Harold was bitten by the rugby bug and - when war broke out - it also gave him the chance to became part of the RAF team.

And whenever he was home he would play when he could.

Pauline Fraser, lifetime support at Roseway House in Jarrow where Harold now lives, said its has brought back many happy memories for Harold.

She said: “I have been overwhelmed at the way they have taken Harold under their wing.

“Seeing his reaction at being shown around the club and coming to see the match has been priceless.

“When he’s back at the home it’s all he talks about to his friends who come to see him and the other residents.

“It has brought back a lot of happy memories for him and everyone at the club has been so friendly.”

Harold added: “I’ve really enjoyed it. I would like to come back and watch more games.”