My father, David Grantham, sadly passed away on June 21st, 2021. He played rugby, so I decided to write an article about him.
Dad was born in Lincoln on October 27th, 1946. As a child, he lived in the north of England but moved to the south when he was about twelve years old. It was around this time that he started to play rugby. Between 1965 and 1969, he was studying to become a teacher at the Brighton College of Education and played for his college team. During his studies, he spent a year in Paris as a teaching assistant and became fluent in French, which he taught for thirty years. However, it’s doubtful he played rugby in France, as he spent most of the summer term rioting with other students. This was during a period of civil unrest in Paris when workers went on strike and university students joined them in sympathy. I’m not sure why he got involved, but there you go.
In 1971, he and my mother moved to Mile Oak (a small suburb in Brighton next to where I grew up). He joined Hove Rugby club and was made captain of the fourth team. Mum recalls that rugby dominated their weekends during the season, and that she always had to wash his “filthy” rugby kit. Ha—!
Dad was fast so could play on the wing but he switched to playing hooker because there weren’t so many rugby players who could play this position at Hove Rugby Club. One of his ploys was to chew raw garlic before a game so that he could breathe the fumes over his opposite number. Nice.
He hung up his boots in his thirties but continued to support Hove Rugby Club by attending its matches. He often took my siblings and me to watch the games when we were kids. This had a profound impact on my eldest brother, who still plays rugby. On the other hand, I was always more inclined to muck about in the nearby park. That said, I do remember watching in awe when the players were scrummaging. It wasn’t until I was older that I came to appreciate the sport. Dad never said it, but he was a passionate England Rugby supporter. This was evident when he watched the national team play in tournaments such as the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup.
When he stopped playing rugby, he took up karate and earned his black belt. He encouraged my siblings and me to do it too. He continued to work out into his fifties. I can still remember his bull worker and power twister equipment, as well as the strange powdery protein drink lurking in the lower cupboard of the kitchen. He was always proud of his “guns”, which he still had up to the day he passed. There’s no doubt that he inspired me to be physically active too.
Rest in Peace, Dad.