Fylde RFC's Carleton plays a generation game
Strange as it sounds for a club staring relegation in the face, there are stellar names dotted around the increasingly dwindling crowds at Fylde.
Malcolm Phillips, an outstanding centre for England, making 27 appearances for his country between 1958 and 1964, seldom misses a home match.
Bill Beaumont, the chairman of World Rugby, still takes an active interest, while there is a familiar figure positioned behind the goal posts, watching proceedings.
It’s none other than the former England flyer John Carleton, a team-mate of Beaumont’s in England’s 1980 Grand Slam-winning team.
Carleton, who was also a British and Irish Lion, assumed legendary status when he crossed for that memorable hat-trick against Scotland that cemented that Grand Slam.
Carleton’s club team back then was Orrell, the ultimate fallen giants of northern rugby, but now he has switched his allegiance to Fylde as he keeps a watchful eye on teenage son Tom, who has just broken into the Fylde first team this season.
It can’t be easy for a 19-year-old to come into a struggling side, but Carleton has acquitted himself well.
Full-back Tom is fully aware of his dad’s presence at Fylde fixtures.
He said: “My dad is behind the posts, almost every game and loves getting involved.
“He always has something to say after a game, good or bad about my own performance and about the team in general.”
Carleton is learning quickly, though when asked if everything dad tells him registers, he responds with a smile: “Sometimes!”
Tom, studying geography and politics at Lancaster University, said of his elevation to senior rugby in England’s third tier: “It is a big step-up from schoolboy rugby, which I was playing last year. It is a massive change, but I think I am finding my feet. It is just a question of adapting and trying to get better.”
Fylde are at Old Albanian tomorrow.