RIP: LES LITTLE - Former Ironsides 1st XV Captain

The Club is sorry to announce the recent death of a former First XV Captain – Club Legend Les Little.

If ever a man was born into the wrong surname then it was Les. A genuinely huge man, in presence, humour, beard and waistline, Les joined the Club from Merton RFC around 1970 as a teenager at the suggestion of another Club great, Geoff Ashby. Geoff recalls Les as an immensely strong teenager with a huge appetite and, later in life, outrageous eating exploits in the Nazmin Tandoori on Garratt Lane.

Bob Ockendon recalls the story of Les removing the road sign from outside East Grinstead Rugby club which he lifted clean out of the ground, concrete stabilisers included ! 

Initially a Centre then gravitating into the pack, by the end of his playing days at the Ironsides Les was a fearsome tight head Prop leading an uncompromising pack.

In his mid-20’s Les joined Harlequins for a short while (starting a trend for our Junior Centres to eventually end up in the Harlequins 1st XV you might say) but missed the social life at the Ironsides. Les came back to the club in 1980’s and in today’s parlance you would have thought he had been to Hogwarts for a few seasons, such was his mastery of the “Dark Arts”. Les brought this acquired knowledge to Ironsides packs of the time and this reinforced the Ironsides reputation for hard Rugby.

One match in particular in the old Surrey Cup was a notable win against Old Alleynians in the Surrey Cup who at the time were probably one of the strongest “Old Boy” teams in Surrey. Prior to the introduction of a League structure, the Surrey Cup was the pre-eminent Competition for Junior Rugby in surrey and the Ironsides progressed well that year only to lose by the narrowest of margins away at Camberley.

Others recall that, as a sideline, Les would temporarily be installed as Landlord of Pubs with a poor reputation, no doubt bringing his charm to bear on any troublesome clientele until the Pub became peaceful again.

Despite his fierce reputation and appearance, Les had a good sense of humour and his respect was well earned. He knew when to behave and when not to, you might say.

An unfortunate knee injury blighted his playing for sometime (Les was much later to admit that he came back from the injury before it had correctly healed) and eventually forced his early retirement from Rugby.

We were delighted that Les was occasionally able to join some of the Ironsides Old Guard reunions in recent years and, while we are sad that he can no longer be with us, Les Little’s name will grace our stories for many years yet.



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