Ipswich YM stalwart returns to first team SEVEN years after retiring!

Ian Girling playing in the 2013 Seckford Shield

Ian Girling playing in the 2013 Seckford Shield - Credit: Archant

Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Ipswich Cardinals' coach Ian Girling (left)
ES 2/12/09

Ipswich Cardinals' coach Ian Girling (left) Picture: CONTRIBUTED ES 2/12/09

That was certainly the case when Ian Girling took to the pitch for the last half hour of Ipswich YM’s 35-25 home victory over Mersea Island on Saturday.

The victory was improving YM’s third in a row but that paled into significance thanks to 47-year-old’s first appearance for the first team for what the club reckon was 14 years!

The winger retired from playing rugby union and American Football at the age of 40 – Girling is the head coach of the Ipswich Cardinals gridiron side– but has recently gained his second wind, culminating in his weekend cameo in the Eastern Counties 1 fixture.

Girling, who lives at Grange Farm, explained how his return to first-team action came about.

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“I had played one game for the second team who were playing at Diss at the weekend, and I was going to go up there,” said Girling, who has been described in one report on the YM website as a ‘living legend’.

“I didn’t finish my shift until 7am on Saturday and I said to them that they didn’t really want a 47-year-old rolling out of bed after four hours sleep to play for them!

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“I was then contacted by the first team who told me that they were required to have three subsititutes so I rushed up there with my kit and I ended up playing half-an-hour. It went OK and I didn’t make any cock-ups!”

That may be a bit modest on the 47-year-old’s part, with YM director of rugby Andrew Moore claiming that he played as well as anyone in the team.

His playing nous was never in doubt but there may have been a few eyebrows raised amongst the younger members of the first team when the man they are more accustomed to see working in the bar at the YM clubhouse, took to the field.

They needn’t have worried though as Girling has kept himself fit at the club, playing another form of the sport.

“I liked how some of the younger boys on the team saw me as one of the bar staff at the club, so it was good to get out of the pitch with them, bossing them about a bit,” said Girling who works shifts as a printer.

“The speed of the game has really changed over the years, compared to how it used to be, but I have started getting it together again.

“I stopped playing when I was 40, and it was taking me days to recover.

“But then my girlfriend started playing for the YM Cobra’s girls’ touch-rugby team and some of the lads at the club got involved to make the numbers up in training on Monday nights.

“It is a great way to keep fit and then I started going up early to have a run-out with the second-team’s backs.

“I played one game for the veterans on the evening the new floodlights were switched on at the club, then won the man-of-the-match for the seconds, playing at full-back, but it was the touch rugby with the girls, who are super-talented, that initiated my comeback.”

With the bit between his teeth again, don’t be surprised to see Girling pull on a first-team jersey once more. Whatever happens, he certainly seems to have caught the bug again.

“I think I will carry on playing,” said the veteran, who dropped down to play for the seconds before he was 40.

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