Having slowed somewhat since his twenties, the former county schoolboy full back – hard to believe now, but true – offered his services to the Derelicts as a centre only to be shoved into action as a prop with indecent haste, from where his delusions grew and his observations of the games became rather obscure.
During an “illustrious” career, Mozza learned the laws of the game at Sutton Grammar School (then known at Sutton Manor) and played his youth and late teens rugby at Sutton & Epsom before enjoying spells as an adult at an eclectic selection of clubs including Old Suttonians, Valley RFC in Hong Kong and Hampstead RFC in north London before serious injury to his remaining good knee led to an 18-year absence from the game.
He was cajoled into playing vets rugby at Dorking RFC by Paul ‘Hunty’ Hunt, Phil ‘Percy’ Dalton and the propping legend Nick ‘Ticker’ Rogers, after his son Fraser and daughter Ella joined Dorking as minis. The interview about playing for the Derelicts, he remembers, was short.
Mozza: “Hello, I was wondering whether I could get a game for the Derelicts?”
Skip: “Can you catch a rugby ball?”
Mozza: “Yes, reckon so.”
Skip: “Well you’re in then. Bring yer boots on Saturday.”
After a couple of games floundering around at back row and centre, he asked Skip how he thought he was getting along in the Derelicts. The answer was short and to the point.
Skip: “We’re short of props”
And that was that. Mozza subsequently enjoyed six years playing prop for the Derelicts, regarding it as the best fun of his career, before a ruptured Achilles tendon prematurely cut short his participation.
Appearances since then have been sparse, restricted to the odd cameo. He played on tour in April 2016 for 30 Port-fuelled minutes. And his final outing came in December 2016 in the Scud Memorial Match. He refuses to retire from playing on the grounds that “you just never know” and “10 minutes holding up the scrum won’t hurt”… which of course it usually did.
When not distracted by rugby, he earns a crust as a journalist on a down market national tabloid newspaper where he has worked for more than 20 years. He will be 57 next birthday and can no longer bend fully nor run owing to an urgent need for replacement knees. He still thinks he’s a moderately useful prop if used sparingly, suitably hydrated and not required to run anywhere. He has every intention of continuing to tour with the Derelicts in future. He still maintains Mavis The Matador should never be selected again.
In the beginning: What On Earth Are We Doing Here?