Returning to Sharmans Cross Road clubhouse must have been like stepping into an episode of Cheers for Birmingham & Solihull’s Ed Orgee where the faces were mostly familiar and everyone knew his name.
After two years away from the club with whom he became synonymous – and 18 months out of the sport – the former Bees captain is well and truly back in the Black and Gold fold and prepares to make another appearance against Cinderford tomorrow.
He will do so alongside many former team-mates like Jim Jenner, Mark Woodrow and Matt Long, all experienced players who helped lift the club to the most glorious moments in its history – the Powergen Cup win over London Wasps and fourth-place finish in National One.
For all the constants, however, many things have changed and the 32-year-old is keen to emphasise just how different things are compared to when he left in May 2006 amid rumours that his career might be over.
Having proved the doubters wrong and spent a season playing and rehabilitating with La Rochelle in France and another travelling the rest of the world, Orgee is once more an important cog in the Bees’ engine room, even if his emergence has been down to the suspension of another ex colleague, Alex Davidson.
“I can’t stress enough how different things are here,” the second row says. “I was initially reluctant going back but it’s totally changed.
“Playing with some of the guys you know gives you a real confidence when you think who they are – and I probably wouldn’t have come back if there hadn’t been some people I know but there is so much more enthusiasm, everyone is highly motivated and a big part of that is because of what Russell [Earnshaw] has brought to the place.”
More differences. As well as being in another league, Orgee left Bees in the First Division, they are also at a different end of the table and have gone full time with a view to restoring former status.
Earnshaw was the key player in that decision and in doing so as publicly as they have, Bees are now there to be shot at for everyone in National Two.
But while Orgee, Jenner, Long et al provide a connection with past glories, most of the squad are new to Solihull and are intent on building a name of their own. Wing Simon Hunt is the division’s joint top try scorer, Rob Connolly is the new skipper and coaches Earnshaw and Eugene Martin are the brains behind Operation Phoenix.
Attempting to pour water on that particular fire tomorrow will be the Knight brothers, Paul and Dave, who moved to Cinderford in the summer and one-time captain Mark Cornwell, all of whom will be trying to generate their own cheers.