Bradley Hall is a proud sponsor of the Newcastle Falcons most recent season.
Who has inspired you in your sporting career?
My dad used to take me to watch all different kinds of sports when I was growing up. We used to come to the Falcons to follow the rugby, and people like Jonny Wilkinson and Matthew Tait were the obvious stand-out players from that era. I also used to go to St James’ Park to watch Newcastle United. It was the ‘Entertainers’ era with Kevin Keegan in charge, and again it’s the obvious kind of people like Alan Shearer that I really used to look up to, with being from the area as well. Other notable characters would have to include Andy Cole and David Ginola, whom I particularly enjoyed watching.
What has been your proudest moment?
Inside the sport I would have to say that making my first team debut for Newcastle Falcons, which was down in Newport when I was still a teenager. I had grown up supporting the club and come through the academy, so it was a special night getting to pull on the shirt for the senior side. Away from rugby, it would be the birth of our two sons, Rex and Max.
What do you think are the benefits of team sport both for players and local communities?
I think friendship and camaraderie are the biggest things. It is the relationships and fun you have with the people you meet that is really important. Through sport you meet so many different kinds of people from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures. You will learn new things just from being in that company. There are also the obvious benefits that come from physical and mental wellbeing when you are involved in sport. From my own side, I started playing mini rugby at Northern FC in Newcastle when I was really young, and I just loved charging around in the mud with my little mates.
What has been the best advice you have been given?
If you are going to do something, do it properly, and enjoy it. If you really commit to something, that is when you will get the rewards. But do not forget to enjoy yourself, because people are at their best when they are having fun.
What qualities make a good teammate?
It is hard to simply list one characteristic, as the beauty of a team is that there is a huge variety of people, each who bringing their own ingredient to the mix. Attributes such as selflessness and being light hearted all contribute to a more dynamic team. I think you need a mix of big characters who bring fun and personality, as well as quieter workers who get on with things, concluding with strong leading figures who help direct the rest of the players. The main thing is that everyone buys into the same vision or goal and plays their own part in helping to bring that to fruition.
What impact has the past year had on the club and players?
It has had a massive impact on every club, in fact on every business. Specifically, for us, the initial period where games were cancelled, and we went for eight months without playing, which was really difficult. Since the resumption of games, I think not being able to have fans inside the stadium has been a huge change. It is disappointing for the players just as it is for the supporters because we thrive on that atmosphere.
How do you think the pandemic has impacted the future of sport?
Not having fans at the games has really emphasised to us how important our supporters are. Looking to the wider side of the sport, I think it is hammered home the fact that rugby needs to find a more sustainable financial footing. There has to be a longer-term strategy, because you do not know what is around the corner. We want Newcastle Falcons and all the other clubs to still be here in 60- or 70-years’ time, and the pandemic has highlighted the fact that the money has gone a bit wild in terms of what the sport can actually sustain.