STEVE Brooke has fulfilled many roles at Wibsey RUFC, including rugby manager, secretary, chairman and volunteer co-ordinator, but he realised partway through last season that it was time to call it quits after 12 years.

He revealed: “It is not that I don’t want to do it but I don’t have the time anymore as I have to look after my 87-year-old mum on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day. You are not on 24-hour call but you are in essence.

“I was at Harrogate Pythons last season and one of the lads had given me a lift to the match so that I could have a beer after the game, and I thought ‘If my mother rings me now how the hell am I going to get home?’

“I said to (director of rugby) Rob (Greenwood) ‘I am going to have to take a step back’, and he said ‘I am not being funny Brooky but you can’t take a step back because the lads will still think that you are going to do everything. You are going to have to finish completely’.”

Brooke also knew that the writing was on the wall for his club.

He revealed: “Rob said to me halfway through last season that we have papered over the cracks by having two winning seasons, because we just had a good team at that point. We both knew that it was coming but we didn’t want to admit it.

“The team had been together for seven years. They were 24 or 25 then and all single but now they are all married with kids in their mid-30s and have probably played 100 games or more and the bodies start feeling it a little bit and they haven’t got the time at weekends and we had a lot of retirements at the end of last season.

“We probably knew about 18 months ago before Covid hit, which didn’t help obviously, and we thought that everybody would be keen to get back but it didn’t pan out like that and we struggled last year with fulfilling fixtures and probably played less than half of what we should have played.”

Brooke not only has commitments to his mother, his wife Lisa and to rugby union, however.

He said: “I also have my job with Mad Duck Ltd, which is embroidery for workwear and sportswear - company badges, printed T-shirts etc.”

One problem at Wibsey is that some of their squad members, who are limited in numbers anyway, are not available all season due to rugby league commitments.

Brooke said: “We rely on our rugby league club (Wibsey Warriors) a lot, and it has had it’s moments but because of the crossover of seasons, and we are probably more of a rugby league community, we lose them in February - about seven players - until the end of the season and then in September and October at the other end of their season.

“We are losing them - what I call ‘leagueists’ - for about four months and we only have a core of about nine union players, who I call ‘unionists’. “We are not tapping into Bradford University either but kids prefer their X-boxes nowadays.”

But hope springs eternal and Wibsey are banking on the efforts of what is now a nine-man rugby union committee.

Brooke admitted: “That is great because there is less pressure (on each person), whereas before it had just been me and Rob.

“Rob and Joe Gregson are the figureheads and there are another seven lads to divvy roles out to, with Keith Dyas helping us with Yorkshire West meetings.

“We are also trying to set up a colts team and get a better link with the league club.

“We had an EGM just after Christmas to get some internal help because we were missing stuff, and these people have stuck their hand up but it will be a slow process.”

As for the future, Brooke said: “We are not playing at the moment but we want to play in a Merit League, but not until after the rugby league season has finished, and arrange some friendlies against such as Halifax and Bradford Salem’s development squads.

“We want to play twice a month and maybe we can attract some younger players, such as those who want to play all year around.

“We are not on our own as Old Grovians have gone, and Barnsley and Bradford & Bingley struggled last season.”

But Brooke has not been lost to rugby union altogether as he is now helping out at Halifax RUFC.

He said: “My involvement with Halifax, which came about only two weeks after the season had finished and I had quit at Wibsey, is as a consultant, which is a fancy title for my contacts list, such as arranging a physio for after the match.

“I am working seven days a week at the moment with my job so I am not going down there every week and I can’t go to places such as Hessle as it is too far away to get back in case anything happens to my mother.

“A lot of it can be done from home on my phone or computer so I can still be involved in rugby without it taking up 20 hours of my week. I will give it a year and see how it goes.”

So for Brooke it is also a case of au revoir rather than goodbye, and we hope the same also applies to Wibsey and Old Grovians.