The five former Wasps legends were selected by a five-strong committee made up of former Wasps FC president Alan Black, London Wasps Chairman Mark Rigby, former players Will Green, himself an inductee in 2008, and Damian Hopley, and long-serving former Board member Graham Wynde.
Wasps past and present joined at the Hurlingham Club to honour some of the Club’s and the game’s greatest player in an evening that encapsulates the true ethos of what it means to be black and gold.
Gordon Bendon joined Wasps as a teenage back row forward. He was soon told that he wouldn’t make it so he switched to the front row and went on to play first team rugby for over 20 years, making more than 500 appearances and winning four England caps. He died several years ago, but his son and daughter were in attendance to hear a number of his ex-teammates sharing memories of a character generally acknowledged to be ‘larger than life’.
Roger Uttley was nearing the end of a glittering career – a former England captain with 23 caps and four Lions tests - when he joined Wasps as a player. He remained part of the club for over 30 years, serving as first team coach, as well as coaching England and the Lions. He retired from his job as head of PE at Harrow School last year and now lives back in the north of England. In an entertaining Q and A he gave some fascinating insights into his long association with the club.
Roger’s last game for Wasps also marked the debut of the next inductee – Nigel Melville, a sublimely talented scrumhalf, whose career was cruelly cut short by serious injury. He had the rare distinction of captaining England on his debut in 1984. He later became Wasps’ Director of Rugby and guided them to the first fully professional league title in 1996/97 and three successive cup finals between 1998 and 2000, with the last two being victorious. He was unable to attend the dinner, but sent a message from Boulder, Colorado, where he is now President of Rugby Operations for USA Rugby.
Matt Greenwood joined Wasps from Nottingham in 1992 and stayed with the club for five years, playing a major role in the league success of 1996/97. Described by one leading rugby journalist as ‘scandalously under-rated’ he played for England A but never won full international honours. Now back in his native Yorkshire, he remains involved in the game coaching a junior team. In his Q and A, he relived some of his playing memories and paid tribute to fellow inductee Nigel Melville, stressing how much he had done to bring success to the Club.
The final inductee of the evening played his last game for Wasps in the 2007 Heineken Cup final. In his eleven seasons with the Club they amassed ten trophies. Alex King was one of the most popular players ever to wear the black and gold jersey and the warm ovation he received as he went up to be honoured made it clear that he is still held in great esteem. During his Q and A he was asked whether he regretted the fact that injuries and bad luck had prevented him winning him more than five England caps. He immediately replied that he had no regrets, as his Wasps career had more than made up for any disappointments in the international area. A true Wasp at heart.
As well as honouring the five legends, the evening hosted a series of auctions to help raise funds for the London Wasps Community Foundation and a big thank you goes to all that attended the evening and helped to make it such a special event.
Details on the 2011 Hall of Fame will available next year.