When someone as decorated as Kevin Maggs casts an envious glance at your achievement, you know you’ve done something pretty special.
That was Richard Stott’s situation on Saturday when he broke a modern day club record with his 284th appearance in the famous Red and Black.
As he led Moseley out against Bedford the affable second row was rewarded for his outstanding service with a warm ovation from the Billesley faithful. It was a fitting tribute to a loyal servant.
It was also something that Maggs, a man with more than 70 test caps, a Triple Crown, a Celtic League title and the experience of two Rugby World Cups on his CV, knew he could not claim.
“I would have loved to have played the amount of games he’s played at one club,” the head coach admired.
“I think it’s going to be a rare thing nowadays. You won’t see people achieve what Richard Stott has achieved and that’s all credit to him.”
Indeed since John White tempted him from the bench at Gloucester in the summer of 2000, Stott has continued to be the benchmark by which the region’s other locks are measured and while many have come and gone through the revolving door that is semi-professional rugby, the 33-year-old has remained a constant. Some have sparkled, others have flattered to deceive, Stott has remained consistent.
“Andy Hall was here when I first arrived with Alex Hadley, then Dai Hallman, Tom Skelding, Dan Tuohy was here for a bit, Paul Arnold, Aly Muldowney, Andy Hall came back, then you’ve got the current lot – guys like Paul Spivey and Dave Lyons. There’s been quite a few,” Stott recalls. “But I started off as a back row, which is what I was at Gloucester. I moved into the second row, which is not a problem.”
Indeed Stott’s debut, which came at Waterloo on September 9 that year, was as a No.8. His first start came the following week after a hand injury to skipper Ian Patten.
“We think he is going to be quite a player,” was White’s prophetic assessment after his new signing’s 20-minute cameo at Blundellsands, yet it was nearly two months later before he made his home debut in the Tetley Bitter Cup defeat to Worcester. He ended up playing 21 times that season, ten as a replacement, and his real breakthrough came in 2001-02 when he started 24 matches and was a substitute on three other occasions.
And then the next campaign brought Moseley’s apocalypse, victory off the field in which the beleaguered club won the right to stay in Birmingham was not matched often enough on it and Mose were relegated to level three.
Stott made the decision to leave. “It was a case of reassessing where I was and playing at as high a level as I could,” he says. “I had a couple of opportunities with clubs around the area and decided to go to Cov, which started off all right but it didn’t go particularly well as other issues arose.” Those issues, which limited him to just eight games at Coundon Road, led him back to Bournbrook where Steve Ojomoh had tried to steady the ship but needed an experienced second row to help.
Stott was reintegrated from the bench in the win over Bracknell and once Ian Smith took over in the summer of 2004, the policeman has barely been out of the side since.
Only once in seven seasons has he failed to make more than 20 appearances and in 2006 he was a mainstay of the side that returned to the second tier.
Better was to come. “The cup final at Twickenham,” he recollects. “Days like that you can’t pay for, it was a once in a lifetime thing with that bunch of boys and you don’t forget that sort of thing.”
Stott was part of a Moseley pack that harangued Premiership-bound Leeds to distraction – and he has the National Trophy winners’ medal to prove it.
But while it might seem obvious to the outsider to look at afternoons such as the one at Twickenham as high points, Stott suggests the real joy. and what he will look back on most, is being part of something. A long career is about the journey and not the destination nor even the stops en route, attractive though they might be.
“You tend to remember the boys you have played with rather than the games you have played in,
“We have always had that ethos at Moseley that we want to play for each other and when we really need to we all pull together.
“Especially when we have had times that have been talked about as being comparable with the best teams in the league. You can be proud of that.”
That hasn’t necessarily been the case this season although the second row stock is probably as deep as it’s ever been during his time at the club.
As a result he has had to bide his time to break Andy Binns’s record. Indeed up until Christmas he had made just four starts but then injuries and suspensions gave him a chance over New Year.
Which leaves the next landmark – 300 appearances.
“You can’t look too far ahead. There are boys I started playing with who have had injuries or gone elsewhere. You have just got to go with what comes your way, which is something you learn as you get a bit more experienced.”
Both Maggs and White would vouch for that.