Harpenden's Peter Branston still going strong after 40 years of competition

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Peter Branston has played rugby for 40 consecutive years Peter Branston has played rugby for 40 consecutive years

Harpenden RFC’s Peter Branston is celebrating a remarkable milestone after playing rugby for 40 consecutive seasons.

During his rugby career the 50-year-old has played in a variety of positions with his favourite being in the back row.

Branston even champions the fact that he remembers his first game for King Henry VIII Grammar School in Coventry which came on Wednesday 12th September 1973.

Five years of school rugby was followed by his senior debut with Broadstreet in September 1978.

Two other members of his family, his brother Dave and father Don who is still the Coventry club’s president, were in the same team.

Branston stayed there for 18 seasons in total, starting out as a 16-year-old teenager in the Fourth XV, graduating to the first team and then settling in as a second-team regular.

In that time he also had a few games for Zurich (Swizerland) and for the French team of Domont.

He came to Harpenden Rugby Club in 1996 intending to play a few seasons of Vets rugby but it was not to be because he soon found his niche in the Second XV.

He also played a fair number of first team matches – his last being in 2008 at the age of 47 against Bishops Stortford in a Herts Cup fixture.

Branston has a lot of memories which included the first team’s relegation battle against Finchley in 2002.

He skippered the Seconds to the Herts Merit Table Championship in 2003-04 and played a full season alongside his 17-year-old son Jonathan in 2007-08.

Rarely suffering from any serious injury – broken collarbones, wrists and noses don’t count – he has held together well.

Branston admits he has been lucky with the referees he has met but accepts that once he took a yellow card to prevent another player being given his second and receiving a sending off.

Whether he gives up next season is open to debate.

Although he still has a great love for the game the versatile player recognises that his opponents are getting younger and more physical as time goes by.

Harpenden wish Branston the best of luck for the remainder of the season and trust he will continue to be a fine example to those around him.

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