Club loyalty does not rate as high in rugby as it used to, indeed many would argue that for a player to reach his full potential he has to move clubs. Andy Binns epitomises all that is meant by loyalty, the unquestioning support of the club in good times and bad. It is one thing to be loyal in good times, it is a very different matter, however, to remain so when everything appears to be collapsing all around you and the future looks bleak.
To talk to Andy about his time with the club is to bring back memories of the roller coaster ride Moseley and its members have been on over the past eight years or so; to marvel that we have survived and to appreciate that our prospects for the future are as good as they now are.
Andy was born in Bradford on 29th June 1976. He had the good fortune to attend one of Britain’s great day schools, Bradford Grammar School, from which he came to Birmingham University to read commerce. He played his first rugby for his school and for Bradford & Bingley, where his mentor was Geoff Wappet, who was well known in West Riding rugby circles. During his first season playing for the university Andy was approached by Terry Malin to join Moseley and fourteen years later he is still with us. He sat on the bench in a league game against Wakefield at The Reddings in the 1995-96 season (with a certain Simon Binns playing fly-half for Moseley) and his debut for the first XV came the season after in an Anglo-Welsh game against Blackwood. In 1996 he was selected to play for the North Midlands U-21 side and for England Students U-21 but took a big step up when Moseley offered him a two year fulltime professional contract in 1997, the year in which he graduated from Birmingham. In the event, the club was unable to honour the latter months of that contract as it went into administration. Andy, and the other fulltime players, became unsecured creditors and it took the administrators several years to reimburse them for a substantial proportion of what they were owed. In retrospect he is reasonably satisfied with the final outcome.
Following this debacle Andy went on a fulltime Postgraduate Certificate of Education course at Wolverhampton University and became a teacher of Business Studies at Wodensborough Community Technology College in Wednesbury. He has recently been promoted to deputy headteacher at the early age of 31 and clearly has a great career ahead of him, which will allow him to deploy the leadership skills that he has shown on the rugby field. Next summer, at the end of what will probably be his last season in first class rugby, he plans to marry his fiancée who is in the Police Force.
Throughout his rugby career Andy has played mostly at centre or full back. He has captained the club twice, in seasons 2003-04 and 2004-05 and last season when Gareth Taylor incurred a serious injury. He has also won the Player of the Season award twice, in 2000 and last season. It all adds up to a formidable achievement, of which he must be proud, to which must be added the fine example he has set for the younger players.
Andy went out of his way to thank the members for their vocal support, Saturday by Saturday. He said that it really does help the players, but reminded me that the support is even more needed when Moseley are defending a five metre scrum, (Hold them out Moseley!), than when the backs are on the rampage and Nathan Bressington is about to score a brilliant try.
When asked what are his best rugby memories Andy had no doubts in citing the defeat of Coventry by 40-plus to a few on a bitterly cold and misty Wednesday night at The Reddings and staying up in Division One at the end of last season. As far as the worst are concerned he shuddered at the memory; the defeat by Rotherham by close to 100 points and the utter despair of relegation to Division Two.
Over the years Andy has kept in close touch with his older brother Simon who remained in Yorkshire. Simon sustained a serious injury in the middle of last season when playing for Otley and has now retired. The brothers will miss their regular chats about various teams and who is doing what.
Outside rugby and teaching Andy’s interests are golf (18), reading (high grade thrillers) and walking his dog, Roxy B. No doubt when he gets married his wife to be will also introduce him to the dubious delights of DIY!
It was a great pleasure to talk to Andy; the club is greatly in his debt and it is entirely right that he is to be awarded a testimonial this season. If all our young and upcoming players strive to match the example he has set for so long, our future will be in good hands.
Height 1.88m (6’2'')
Weight 89kg (14st)
Born 29th June 1976 in Bradford