Ian Smith has used the build up to Andy Binns’ last home appearance for Moseley by paying tribute to a man he has both coached and played with.
The 32-year-old says farewell to the supporters he has served with distinction for 15 years when Plymouth Albion visit Billesley Common this evening for the Red and Blacks’ final match of the season on home turf.
While Binns will not yet be able to hang up his boots – he rather fittingly does that on May 9 at his brother’s former club Otley – tonight’s encounter gives the Moseley followers an opportunity to thank a player who has stuck with the club through thin and thinner.
After a decade-and-a-half, two ground changes and two administrations, only in the last few weeks has Binns been able to enjoy the sort of success every player craves and if he is not the star of the show, it will be the EDF Energy National Trophy which his try went so far to winning at Twickenham earlier this month.
But whatever happens this evening, if Smith’s team don’t manage to sign off with a victory, the head coach says it won’t be anything to do with a veteran he describes as ‘Mr Reliable’.
“Andy was a youngster just coming through when I played at the club – the size of his legs has not changed since then,” Smith quipped. “He is one of those people you can trust wholeheartedly. At half time he will often contribute to the discussion and he’ll say exactly the right thing but not just because the coaches want to hear it. He is totally honest, a real team man.
“He leads by example, he is good at seeing situations early which he relays very quickly. In defence that is invaluable.
“With the two players he has in front of him, be it Charlie Sharples, Henry Trinder or Dan Norton, he is a tremendous help. They have benefited so much from having his wise head behind.”
But Smith maintains Binns has also retained the attacking instincts that marked him out as a young player.
“When I was at The Reddings he was playing outside centre and he could always pick a good line.
“He did just that on Saturday when he read what Nathan Bressington was going to do and took a pass under the posts. He did the same at Twickenham too.
“I know from experience that as you get older maybe the pace goes but what you never lose is the ability to see something before everyone else.”
In fact Binns is in something of a rich try-scoring vein. Having crossed the line only twice all season, he followed his effort in the cup final with another last weekend as Mose secured their place in next season’s Championship.
A third in three games this evening would be an even better storyline than his laboured amble across Twickenham’s open expanse last Saturday week.
However, Smith has not given up hope of tempting Binns to play for a 16th year.
“In many ways I hope this is not his last home game. I would like to see him having a future role to play,” he said.
“His experience is obviously invaluable to this group of people so I’d like him to carry on for as long as he can.
“Obviously the decision rests with him and we’ll respect whatever he says but I will suggest to him that he stays.
“I know after a couple of months of Saturday shopping things start to look a bit diffferent, there are only so many times you can walk the dog after all.”
Billesley Common will also be saying goodbye to Jack Adams and Dan Norton, both of whom have signed for relegated Bristol.
And they will not see Trinder, Sharples or Dan Williams again this term. Smith has decided to allow the England Under 20 trio to prepare for next month’s IRB Junior World Championships in Japan.